The Iconic Sounds Of Synthesis – ‘On The Run’ From ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

When it comes to iconic sounds of synthesis, few changed the shape of popular electronic music than the sequenced synth on Pink Floyd’s On The Run, from Dark Side Of The Moon.

In this short BBC video, David Gilmour explains how the On The Run sequence was created on the EMS Synthi A. The Synthi A was introduced in 1971, so it was a brand new tool when Pink Floyd was using it. Dark Side Of The Moon was released in 1973 and went on to sell 50 million copies.

Unfortunately for synthesists, the Synthi A is one of the rarest production synths ever made. Fans of the sound have turned to other synthesizers to recreate the classic sequence (E2 G2 A2 G2 D3 C3 D3 E3) – some more successfully than others.

Here are a few examples:

This two-part tutorial combines a look at some of the basics of using the DSI Mono Evolver and how to create the famous On The Run sequence.

The second part demonstrates recreating some of the original track’s specia effects sounds.

Here’s a take on the classic sequence, recreated on the Moog Little Phatty:

In the video below, effects guru Bill Ruppert demonstrates creating a version of On The Run using Electro-Harmonix effects pedals.

In the modular synth version below, the Analogue Systems RS200 is programed with the sequence, driving two rs95e oscillators:

Here’s a take using the freeware synth KX-SYNTH-X16:

Next up is a version on the classic Roland TB-303:

The version below uses the microKorg XL. A DAW is used to send the 8 step pattern for the lead sound and the hihat.

In this version, the Doepfer Dark Energy is sequenced by a VST:

The next video features some relatively inexpensive modern gear including the Doepfer Dark EnergyDoepfer Dark Time and Vermona Mono Lancet:

This take features the classic Sequential Circuits Pro One:

The inexpensive Korg Monotribe is capable of a pretty good version of On The Run:

Here’s a Korg Volca version of On The Run:

While none of these versions really matches the original, the versions above demonstrate how the unique qualities of each synth put their stamp on the result. And recreating this iconic sequence can help you gain a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of your own gear – and a better appreciation for the classic original.

Here’s a version recreated on an EMS Synthi AKS:

Here’s a version on the Korg MS-20 DIY Kit, controlled by XAOC DEVICES Moskwa step sequencer:

Check out the different versions and let us know what you think of them in the comments!

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14 thoughts on “The Iconic Sounds Of Synthesis – ‘On The Run’ From ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

  1. Pink floyd did some great music . I think on the run is the one track that doesn’t have the hippy connotation .This is a classic piece of music and it is good to see these demos.
    Someone said the middle class wallow in the idea of Isolation whilst the working class rally against it.

  2. So the suggested sequence is E2 G2 A2 G2 D3 C3 D3 E3. But in the top video with David Gilmour, he appears to be playing C3 C2 Eb G F Eb F Bb. Even if the key is different, it still isn’t the same relative notes. Anyone care to comment and clear this up for me?

      1. No, don’t trust Gilmour. Listen to the album slowed down. Then listen to the PULSE version slowed down. They’re two different sequences. Apparently people think if it’s going fast enough, it doesn’t matter.

  3. Good to see this. Don’t listen to talking heads who claim there wasn’t sampling in 1972. Tape loops had been around for some time.

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