New Jerusalem

(Part 2A - Parts & Arrangement)

One of the difficulties of playing 'New Jerusalem' live is remembering the chorus chord changes. Although each chorus starts out with the same repeated E minor to C major movement, variations occur later on, with the result that no two consecutive choruses are the same - and since this long song has six choruses, staying on top of the variants is a challenge. The solution? Well, as the New York cop said to the elderly tourist asking the best way to get to Carnegie Hall, "Lady, you gotta practice".

So, where chorus 1 changes to a happy-sounding G major chord under the lyric 'going to build Jerusalem' seven bars in, chorus 2 goes to the relative minor chord (Em) instead:

'New Jerusalem' Chorus 2 end

Here's a mix of the whole section:

At the point where Barbara sings 'dream', the music undergoes a transformation: the loud dynamic becomes quiet, the key changes from E minor to Bb major, and percussive keyboard sounds in the backing take on a more luxurious quality. At the same time, soft synth strings and a bass drone (played on respectively Prophet-5 and Minimoog, a combination I used a lot in those days) play the following lyrical sequence:

'New Jerusalem' Dream sequence keys

Accompanying the soft strings and bass line is a chiming part I programmed on a DX7 synth:

Programmed percussion (courtesy of an Emu SP-12 sampling drum machine) maintains a light beat throughout:

The icing on the cake is this wonderful psychedelic noise I sampled from the soundtrack of an old film, which I pitched to the key of music. I also added harp arpeggios, a sure way of signifying this is a musical dream sequence! Hey, someone should make a video of this tune.

E n t e r   B r i t t a n i a

The dream sequence continues with a section in which Brittania (the female personification of our little island) appears and speaks to the audience in riddles. Here's how it sounds:

Here's the keyboard chart for that passage:

'New Jerusalem' Mid Keys

[ Watch guitarist Beren Matthews play the first four bars ]

Meanwhile back at the dream sequence, Barb accompanies her lead vocal with three-part BV's. (Did Brittania have a female backing vocal trio? We'll never know.)

'New Jerusalem' Mid Vocals

Under the line 'my ships are sinking' (bar 4 of the vocal passage) we introduce a Brian May-style guitar choir played by Jakko Jakszyk.

'New Jerusalem' Guitar Choir

Interesting little percussion part, played on sampled boobams.

When we play the song live Beren plays the anthemic melody marked in red on the score, culminating in a triumphant high C power chord. You can see him playing the melody (and the funky part he plays behind the ensuing keyboard solo) in this video. Contains edit - do not adjust your sets!

Ke y b o a r d   S o l o   # 1

One of the perks of writing long songs is you can include as many solos as you want. I greedily take three in New Jerusalem, the first of which came out like this:

'New Jerusalem' Keyboard solo #1

Calling all keyboardists, guitarists, saxophonists, woodwinds, brass, string, harmonica and kazoo players - try playing your own solo over this backing track! I find the G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F minor scale works well for this one.

The solo is followed by a bridge section (as notated last month) which concludes with these vocal harmonies, sung over a slowing tempo:

'New Jerusalem' Bridge 3A

T h e   B i g   J

This brings us to Hubert Parry's immortal intro to the hymn Jerusalem, which gives me shivers up the spine every time I hear it. A fantastic, stirring opening melodic theme with beautiful mobile harmonies. The music you see here is written for organ, hence the bass octaves (played with a coupled pedal stop to create automatic lowoctave doubling). BTW 'D.L.M.' stands for 'double long measure', a metrical term indicating the number of syllables in the lines of each stanza of a hymn - not a commonly used abbreviation in rock circles!

Parry's 'Jerusalem' intro'

On the last chord of the organ music we play another bridge, again decorated with vocal harmonies:

'New Jerusalem' Bridge 3B'

A round of vocal choruses follow. When we get to chorus no. 5 I play a solo which quotes from Parry's hymn tune ('And did those feet...')

'New Jerusalem' Keyboard solo #2'

O v e r   &   O u t

Our journey through the troubled psyche of the British nationalistic mindset concludes where it started, with a riff heard at the intro of the song - as you'll recall from last month's article, it's played on a keyboard patch called 'Fairvox', originally a Fairlight CMI vocal sample. The riff starts with a slight variant (marked in red), straightens itelf out then goes a bit oo-er (as we say in the trade) for the second half of the passage, where the bass line mutates slightly. We refer to this final instrumental passage as the 'mad verse', for reasons which should be obvious - Gavin excels himself with a crazy 'rhythmic illusion' described in detail in the 'Drums & Recording Notes' section of ths article (see link below).

'New Jerusalem' final instrumental verse Keys

Watch Beren play the 'mad verse' bass line

The deranged rhythmic battle comes to halt with a truly horrible chord, followed by a pair of massed stabs and a classic G.B.R.E. (Great British Rock Ending) where everyone goes bonkers.

'New Jerusalem' Ending Keys

Here's the latter few minutes of the album mix of 'New Jerusalem', featuring Gavin Harrison on drums:

F u r t h e r   R e a d i n g

New Jerusalem (Part 2) - Drums & Recording Notes
Last month's article New Jerusalem (Part 1).
More Beren Matthews guitar videos


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

Return to top

All text, images and audio files copyright of Broken Records, UK.
Please do not reprint, upload or share without permission. Thank you!