New Jerusalem

(Part 1)

I always felt the Stewart / Gaskin song 'New Jerusalem' would be a good subject for an Inside The Music deconstruction, but I was somewhat daunted by its dense arrangement. However, a combination of recent events forced the issue. Having played the song live in 2019 (which was a blast) the audio and MIDI parts were all assembled on my computer hard drive, making it easier to analyse and notate the music. At the same time, the blazing orange skies of California and impending US election made me feel this was the right time to bring back a piece of music which warns of the twin dangers of environmental destruction and unthinking nationalism - and from an English perspective, never has William Blake's 'green and pleasant land' been more in danger of turning into a giant supermarket car park, while the gloating, profit-crazed overlords I scowl at in the song lyrics are certainly having a field day right now. Roll on the Revolution...

As with most of our songs, 'New Jerusalem' started life as a keyboard riff:

'New Jerusalem' Intro keys

The riff (which became the intro of the song) is played on a keyboard patch called 'Fairvox', originally a single Fairlight CMI vocal sample. I used this sound a lot on The Big Idea - it's mono, lo-fi, heavily compressed, utterly synthetic, and has the rare distinction of sounding great over a five-octave pitch range! When we played 'New Jerusalem' live I imported the sample into my Korg Kronos keyboard and added a little stereo reverb - it sounded great.

Pattering away behind the main riff is a little sequenced rhythm part played on a Yamaha DX7 synth:

'New Jerusalem' Intro DX7 part

As mentioned last month, such small, unassuming sounds can help make a song tick. You'll notice that this part features a series of syncopated quick-moving chords with left-hand single notes (marked in red) filling in the spaces - not the kind of thing I'd play live, but if you play it slowly you'll hear how the top notes of the chords pick out a somewhat quirky melody.

There's a lot going on in this intro! The DX7 part is doubled by a xylophone sample in the upper octave:

The intro percussion was programmed using an Emu SP-12 drum machine and Casio FZ-1 sampler keyboard:

This big keyboard sound (played on a combination of a Roland D-550 brass patch and sampled harpsichord) adds an epic quality:

Timpani and low octave piano samples big up the bass line (sounds like '60s TV music!):

Guitarist Beren Matthews gives it some welly:

Here's a mix of the intro:

V e r s e   1

Moving on, the opening verse of the song is based on an ever-changing series of sad-sounding chords. The original keyboard sounds for this passage are hiding on a floppy disk somewhere, so I've created a 21st-century version here!

'New Jerusalem' Verse 1 keys

I added this orchestral music (including oboe and trumpet parts, not notated) to the last eight bars of the verse:

'New Jerusalem' Vs1 orchestral parts

B r i d g e   /  C h o r u s

Here's the main keyboard part for the bridge and chorus (I suggest you use your thumb to play the bottom two notes of the right-hand Am11 chord in bar 3 :) On the recorded version of 'New Jerusalem' the left hand part is replaced by a busier bass line.

'New Jerusalem' Bridge keys

'New Jerusalem' Ch1 keys

C h o r a l   P a r t s

The song choruses feature Barb's three and four-part backing vocals (apologies for that note marked in red, I don't know what I was thinking of!)

'New Jerusalem' Ch1 BV's

The choruses also feature the mighty 25-voice Amorphous Choir singing parts based on Barb's BVs:

'New Jerusalem' Ch1 choir

G u i t a r   P a r t s

The live guitar parts on 'New Jerusalem' (played by Beren Matthews) are based on the original 24-track recording, which features (among 10 million other things) a combination of Jakko Jakszyk's real-life guitar and guitar samples played by myself. In the first half of the song, Beren doubles the intro bass line in classic heavy metal style, plays power chords on the bridge and switches to a clean sound for the chorus chord changes pictured below.

'New Jerusalem' chorus guitar chords

Watch Beren play his stage parts

More guitar videos here

Here's an extract from the album mix of 'New Jerusalem', featuring Gavin Harrison on drums:

(To be continued)


New Jerusalem (D. Stewart)

I close my eyes and hold my head in shame
As we sink beneath the waves
I'm still wondering who to blame
There's no sun in the sky and no birds left to sing
In the country of the blind no-one notices a thing

See the lords of this land rub their hands in glee
'Cos the green fields and mountains are their private property
And the sound that we hear as we stumble down the road
Is the ticking of a time bomb getting ready to explode

But we don't worry 'bout a thing
When we can sing Jerusalem

Sing Jerusalem with your banners flying
It's a requiem for a nation dying
Lift your voice but don't lift a hand
To build Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land

Home is the hero with medals on his chest
Free to push a broom in the land he loves the best
For the green fields of England are like a foreign land
Where once lay pleasant pastures now shopping centres stand

And the hills of the north have been stripped of every tree
While the mad men of industry pump poison in the sea

But we don't worry 'bout a thing
When we can sing Jerusalem

Sing Jerusalem with your banners blazing
Sound the horn and beat the drum, oh what hell you're raising
National pride our favourite theme
Sing Jerusalem but remember it's only a dream

I close my eyes and in my dream Brittania comes to me (and she says)
My ships are sinking, my hopes are drowning, set me free

We don't worry 'bout a thing
When we can sing Jerusalem

Sing Jerusalem with your banners flying
It's a requiem for a nation dying
Fly the flag but don't lift a hand
To build Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land

Sing Jerusalem, you're not singing any more
Too tired to carry on as you march to war
Raise your voice when things go wrong
Sing Jerusalem but remember it's only a song

Oh my country (sing Jerusalem)
Oh how I love you (it's a requiem)
Hand in hand, divided we stand
Gonna build Jerusalem way up on these clouded hills
Just like we always planned

To build Jerusalem...
In the country of the damned


Thanks for reading!

Dave Stewart, UK

'New Jerusalem' by Dave Stewart, © Budding Music 1990.
From the album The Big Idea by Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, ℗ Broken Records BRCDLP-03.
See Inside The Music Vols. 1 & 2 for more Stewart / Gaskin song deconstructions.

Stewart / Gaskin home page

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