New Order’s “Blue Monday” Played with Obsolete 1930s Instruments

Released 33 years ago this week, New Order’s “Blue Mon­day” (hear the orig­i­nal EP ver­sion here) became, accord­ing to the BBC, “a cru­cial link between Sev­en­ties dis­co and the dance/house boom that took off at the end of the Eight­ies.” If you fre­quent­ed a dance club dur­ing the 1980s, you almost cer­tain­ly know the song.

The orig­i­nal “Blue Mon­day” nev­er quite won me over. I’m much more Rolling Stones than New Order. But I’m tak­en with the adap­ta­tion above. Cre­at­ed by the “Orkestra Obso­lete,” this ver­sion tries to imag­ine what the song would have sound­ed like in 1933, using only instru­ments avail­able at the time— for exam­ple, writes the BBC, the theremin, musi­cal saw, har­mo­ni­um and pre­pared piano. Quite a change from the Pow­ertron Sequencer, Moog Source syn­the­siz­er, and Ober­heim DMX drum machine used to record the song in the 80s. Enjoy this lit­tle thought exper­i­ment put in action.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sovi­et Inven­tor Léon Theremin Shows Off the Theremin, the Ear­ly Elec­tron­ic Instru­ment That Could Be Played With­out Being Touched (1954)

Meet the “Tel­har­mo­ni­um,” the First Syn­the­siz­er (and Pre­de­ces­sor to Muzak), Invent­ed in 1897

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy Played With 167 Theremins Placed Inside Matryosh­ka Dolls in Japan

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Comments (66)
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  • CC says:

    Cool. Except none of these instru­ments are “obso­lete”.

  • Tim says:

    And there were any num­ber of eccentric/electronic instru­ments around then, such as theremin, ondes martenot, etc.

  • clark weichmann says:

    Fas­ci­nat­ing. The year the game changed was not long after, with the Ham­mond Nova­chord in 1938. A true polyph­non­ic syn­the­siz­er. one has been ful­ly restored (and played) by Phil Ciroc­co.

  • clark weichmann says:

    The Nova­chord was hard­ly a toy. Here is a frag­ment of one of Phil’s pieces.

  • Dr. Greg says:

    Extreme­ly cre­ative in dress and demeanor. Loved the lay­er­ing effect of var­i­ous instru­men­tal tim­bres. Very 21st cen­tu­ry in rhyth­mic pat­ter, but melod­ic and har­mon­ic moods are inge­nious­ly inter­wo­ven to per­fec­tion!

  • Msg says:

    And most of them aren’t “1930’s” either. Dul­cimers have been around since ancient times, the lap harp is from the mid 19th cen­tu­ry. Musi­cal saws became pop­u­lar in “moun­tain music” dur­ing the late 1800’s.

  • John L Rice says:

    Dan, I saw it post­ed by Stingray Pašić

  • Andy says:

    I saw it on both the lou reed group and the space junkies group

  • cole says:

    i found ya through a post on red­dit. you’re mak­ing the rounds!

  • weaselly says:

    I saw it via ‘Open Cul­ture’ on Face­book, from where it was shared almost 2000 times. :)

  • Mr Scorpio says:

    Appar­ent­ly the ‘home made’ sequencer was called Pow­er­tran, not Pow­ertron. Just Say­ing. :-D

  • D. says:

    Love the orig­i­nal, love this cov­er ver­sion; I’d just like to point out that the “orig­i­nal” link refers to the remix from 1988, the actu­al orig­i­nal ver­sion (which is more pow­er­ful, in my opin­ion) can be found here:

  • M.B says:

    Gene Ween(Aaron Free­man) direct­ed me to this via his Twit­ter. Great video.

  • Tarvo Merkällinen says:

    and now in the full 7:30 Min­utes please :P

    AND as 1988 mix.… BEACH BUGGY! :D

  • Wim G says:

    I was won­der­ing how they’d do the frogs, but they took a pass.

  • Bill Jonke says:

    Keep this sort of thing com­ing. It rein­states my desire to hear things done with actu­al instru­ments and peo­ple actu­al­ly singing! I LOVED this!

  • G. Grabo says:

    “Obso­lete?” “1930s”? Can always tell when an ‘under 30’ is writ­ing arti­cles.

  • Second Hand says:

    It does­n’t link to the orig­i­nal. It links to the 1988 remix, which is sub­stan­tial­ly infe­ri­or to the 1983 orig­i­nal.

  • jrstrs says:

    How can a musi­cal instru­ment be con­sid­ered obso­lete? dig­i­tal media has obvi­ous­ly come to the con­clu­sion that copy edi­tors are obso­lete…

  • Dave says:

    Not sure that any instru­ment is ever “obso­lete”… if it does­n’t make sounds any­more, it might be *bro­ken* but no “obso­lete”. But one thing is cer­tain, that drum sets and string bass­es are def­i­nite­ly *not* “obso­lete” in any sense of the word. :)

  • sergio cocco says:

    what’s the marim­ba type thing seen at 3min & the radio/analog box with lamp that get’s twid­dled at same time mark..??

    most drum fx can be done w a sim­ple drum of course,
    they did leave of the hand­claps ;)

    Now i want an Arthur Bak­er & Afri­ka Bam­baataa rmx :)

  • Raul Castro says:

    Greet­ings from San Fran­cis­co Bay Area. I hope to claim some respon­si­bil­i­ty for shar­ing you clip on Face­book with our friends. This is worth shar­ing and I hope to hear more from your Orkestra. Where to buy the audio record­ing?

  • Stuart S says:

    Angus, who was in many bands over the years includ­ing The Kaisers, has his (main­ly ukulele-based) YouTube chan­nel, Gugug.

    Noth­ing about this new project on it, as yet, but it looks and sounds incred­i­ble.

    The Kaisers mim­ing on some Chica­go kids TV show in the 90s:-

  • Porthos says:

    Now that’s a cov­er.

  • Dave H. says:

    Got here via links from both The 80s Under­ground and Sir­iusXM 1st Wave Face­book pages.

  • Natan says:

    Richard Blade just shared this on his Face­book page as well

  • tracy says:

    obso­lete in the sense that no one plays those instru­ments any­more. can’t remem­ber a time i’ve seen a theremin being played.

  • fartbro9000 says:

    IF the writer is more into stones than new order; then sure­ly they would hope for this cov­er to have a hard­er, defin­i­tive back beat in the sound; but instead its a plod­ding song that sounds like a metronome; its inter­est­ing but almost pol­ka, and like some­thing in the cred­its of one of those new crime dra­ma shows where its about the ear­ly 1900s but they play nick cave in a slo mo action scene. Fan­tas­tic, but a bit con­trived and iron­ic ha ha swarmy cutesy. I guess this is the sort of schtick peo­ple desire now; and also, you can like both stones and new order, and like the kinks and joy divi­sion! why not.

  • djlace says:

    It’s pow­er­tran. Not pow­ertron.

  • Stevie says:

    Heaps of peo­ple play those instru­ments. I have been to sev­er­al shows this year (it is ear­ly March!) where a theremin was used. If you see films, I bet you have watched a movie this year that fea­tured one on the sound­track.

  • Matthew says:

    Saw a post by MTV Live

  • Bill Jonke says:

    I LOVE this! They’re actu­al­ly singing and play­ing instru­ments. Far cry from what any­body’s doing today!

  • Jeff says:

    I want more Orkestra Obso­lete but can’t find a web page. Help!

  • freddiee says:

    Hor­rid. Just hor­rid.

  • HeidiSue says:

    good music, and I loved see­ing the theramin, though I would­n’t say it was obso­lete, as I saw it on stage, played by Joe Bona­mas­sa two years ago. and isn’t it fea­tured in the Star Trek theme?

    still, cool video and ter­rif­ic music

  • Wolfbrigade says:

    It’s instru­ments you could find in 1930 mean­ing they could of used any­thing pre­vi­ous­ly up to 1930…

    Appar­ent­ly peo­ple can’t take 20 secs to read beyond the title. Just have to run to the com­ments to sound smart.

  • Norm says:

    On my news­feed, it was a per­son named ‎Kim­ber­ly Brook Israel‎ who shared it to the group “Shoegazed & Con­fused” which is a group focused on shoegaze/nugaze music.

  • Dollartooth says:

    Lots of folks here who seem to know every­thing about music except how to enjoy it. Cheers for demon­strat­ing how knowl­edgable you are on obscure musi­cal instru­ments guys, that was great. You are the clev­eremest peo­ple on the inter­net.

  • Dollartooth says:

    If play­ing smartest man in the room keeps the black void from engulf­ing them for anoth­er day, I say let ’em have it. Poor sods.

  • GN says:

    It’s played on instru­ments that were AVAILABLE in 1933, accord­ing to both this post and the Youtube descrip­tion. So you’re basi­cal­ly com­plain­ing that the video title is impre­cise, which is true, but a bit…you know…nitpicky?

  • Stephen says:

    ‘Instru­ments’ is plur­al, so you should­n’t use ‘it’s’. And the oth­er gram­mar you get pub­licly wrong is ‘should have’ and not ‘should of’ which of course makes zero sense. Smart enough for you?

  • Stephen says:

    sorry—the above was @Wolfbrigade

  • Raphael Pungin says:

    I loved the song so much, I made my own ver­sion of it too!

  • Barbara says:

    Jer­ry Col­pitts shared to the Spit group (dance club in the 80s in Boston) and TVOD by Tony V

  • thomas says:

    this is mad­ness. you can feel the bond between art and music with this tal­ent­ed peo­ple. peo­ple just see the final results but even greater is how you get there with that idea and the edi­tion of the video plus the tec­ni­cal knowhow of every instru­ment.

    total­ly mind blow­ing.

    i admire you

  • BigJoe says:

    Lets stop pick­ing apart the his­toric accu­ra­cy for fksake…it’s great art! Well done. Real­ly loved this. More please.
    Found via FB.

  • Brian Gonzalez says:

    That would be us.. and we love the cred­i­bil­i­ty of your site.

  • Shan says:

    Caught it on the BBC news Face­book page.

  • rick says:

    If they’re being used, they’re not obso­lete. That saw? Still sold today.

  • Bryce says:

    Nice sam­ple. Where is it from? Just dis­cov­ered the Nova­chord Restora­tion Project. Hard to believe this instru­ment is from 1938. Music of the elec­tron indeed:‑QH-dQsAok

  • ChrisP says:

    Not sure why they went with 1930s, but the arti­cle says they chose only what was avail­able then, not instru­ments cre­at­ed then. Also, with­out hav­ing done any research, the year an instru­ment was cre­at­ed has noth­ing to do with its pop­u­lar­i­ty dur­ing a cer­tain peri­od..

  • Jason says:

    The frogs were in Per­fect Kiss.

  • mervin says:

    The marim­ba type thing is a Theremin.

  • Stephen McArthur says:

    I agree.…not sure what an “obso­lete” musi­cal instru­ment is. Unusu­al, rare, sel­dom-used, but not “obso­lete.” As a sax play­er, I think they should have includ­ed a C‑melody sax­o­phone.

  • Bjoern says:

    Very nice ver­sion, but I think it is mis­lead­ing that this would have sound like this in 1933.

    The record­ing tech­nique used here is too state-of-the-art as well as the over­all pro­duc­tion, mix­ing and mas­ter­ing (which has quite an impact). Maybe a live ver­sion with orig­i­nal micro­phones and amps could cre­ate a more real­is­tic illu­sion ;)

    But apart from that: great!

  • Jon says:

    The rea­son that you’re “tak­en with the adap­ta­tion above” is that it sounds more like good old dis­co rather than a link to some­thing for­ward think­ing like house. If the New Order track had this straight­for­ward beat it would’ve been just anoth­er record­ing rather than some­thing that inspired peo­ple to link up dis­co with Kraftwerk, etc. This record­ing is cool for what it is but they’ve killed the vibe of the quirky, robot­ic feel of the orig­i­nal.

  • Bud says:

    I found it cour­tesy of the Sir­iusXM 1st Wave page

  • Daneen says:

    I agree, I think “vin­tage” would be a more appro­pri­ate word, but this is pret­ty awe­some nonethe­less!

  • Luccia says:


  • J. Bruce Wilcox says:

    As a club DJ from the late 70s through the mid/late 80s- this song was just the best. Peri­od. I still have it in reg­u­lar rota­tion.

  • Milt Lang says:

    The frogs were in Per­fect Kiss, not in Blue Mon­day.

  • Tomos Lewis says:

    Mar­co Collins post­ed this to his FB page.

  • Richard Wadd says:

    Click bait head­line as many have point­ed out. And would you have heard it in this “orches­tra­tion” in the 1930s? Uh…

    And I’m not sure how per­cus­sion, bass, piano, etc is par­tic­u­lar­ly ground break­ing (much less Theremin…)

    I was hop­ing for some­thing real­ly cre­ative and exot­ic. Instead we got a “post-mod­ern juke­box” ver­sion of a song that’s much cool­er in its orig­i­nal form.

  • Tom says:

    Why would you write a review of a remade song and make it a point to pref­er­ence in the review how you nev­er liked the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the song “because” you are a Stones fan. That just aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly imma­ture. “We” don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly care about your pref­er­ences, we are inter­est­ed in the song and the artist and many of have an affin­i­ty for the Stones along with New Order.

  • Rich says:

    Well, Georges Skookum­chuck Popham did. That’s how I got here.

  • Lisa says:

    Dam­ages You can’t list A vibe and data is proof of the crimes! Red­mond did it…!

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