Synchronicity II

  • Artist: The Police
  • Album: Synchronicity
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Year: 1983
  • Producer: Hugh Padgham, The Police
  • Engineer: Hugh Padgham
  • Studio: AIR Studios, Montserrat
    Le Studio, Quebec, Canada


Pitch Shift
This tune offers analog pitch shift, through tape speed manipulation. The Intro reveals a 'start tape' effect.
Electric guitar is made to feedback steadily at the desired pitch in the studio first. Then the tape machine is punched into record from a standstill. Ordinarily, this is bad practice. Engineers experienced with tape hit play first, wait for the machine to reach speed, and then punch in to active record.
Here, Hugh Padgham deliberately starts the tape machine rolling while already in active record mode. It is recording as the tape machine ramps up to proper speed. This means the early part of the recorded track occurs with the machine rolling slower-than-specified. For the mix we hear, the machine is played back at the specified full speed from the get go. When it reaches the beginning of the previously recorded guitar track, it is playing much faster than the speed at which it was recorded. So, initially, the tone is played-back at a much higher pitch. As it plays on, we approach the part of the guitar track where the recorded speed reaches the playback speed, so the pitch dives steadily and precisely down to the proper pitch.
The haunting, unnatural chirps that opens the tune result, all created through analog tape-based pitch shifting.

Note the faint ghost of an echo on the Lead Vocal throughout the tune, adding support and rhythmic excitement. It is particularly revealed at the end of vocal lines or in the spaces between crisp words ending in consonants.


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