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Beyond
the Pale

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Matthew Fisher on 'AWSoP'

From a BBC Radio Merseyside Interview, 1992


Interviewer
What was the session for Whiter Shade of Pale like, and how did you come by the intro [sic]. I mean, it's based on a classical piece, isn't it?

Matthew Fisher
It's based on lots of things or at least two different Bach pieces, plus there's an awful lot of it that isn't really based on anything, it's just me. It's a bit of a hodge-podge.

Whenever you read, look in books it says the introduction [sic] was based on Bach.

Yeah, just 'cos someone writes something in a book don't make it true, you know. It wasn't a kind of a note-for-note crib which I think a lot of people, you know, that read these things like this in books and probably wouldn't know Bach from the back end of a bus run away with the idea that I you know that we just took some Bach tune and sort of said well that will do, let's use that. And it wasn't that at all, it was just like a coupla notes here and a coupla notes there and the rest of it was me.

What are the pieces of Bach that inspired that? I mean I'm pressing you on this because it's about the most famous introduction [sic] in Rock music and so people are fascinated to know how that came about.

Right. Well the long note, the long held note at the beginning with the descending bass line, I suppose is like Air on a G String, you know, like that's used in the 'Hamlet' adverts, and the ... um ... the sort of [sings] 'da dada diddle ah' bit is rather like a choral prelude, well some people call it Sleepers Awake, I think, that's the English. It's very, very similar but not exactly because the bass line is different. You see, the tune had to be changed a bit to accommodate the actual bass part that was going on. So those are the two things anyway.


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