On the Run (instrumental)

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"On the Run"
Instrumental by Pink Floyd
from the album The Dark Side of the Moon
PublishedWorld Copyrights Ltd
Released1 March 1973
RecordedJanuary 1973
Songwriter(s)David Gilmour
Roger Waters
Producer(s)Pink Floyd

"On the Run" is the third track[nb 1] from British progressive rock band Pink Floyd's 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon.[1][2] It is an instrumental piece performed on an EMS synthesizer (Synthi AKS). It deals with the pressures of travel, which, according to Richard Wright, would often bring fear of death.


This piece was created by entering an 8-note sequence into a Synthi AKS synthesiser made by the British synthesiser manufacturer EMS and speeding it up, with an added white noise generator creating the hi-hat sound. The band then added backwards guitar parts, created by dragging a microphone stand down the fretboard, reversing the tape, and panning left to right. There are also other Synthi and VCS 3 synthesizer parts, made to sound like a vehicle passing, giving a Doppler effect. The 8 note sequence is played at a tempo of 165 BPM, while both filter frequency and resonance are modulated. Near the end, the only guitar part is heard: a chord over the explosion of the presumed aircraft, which gradually fades, segueing into the chiming clocks introduction of the following track "Time".

When The Dark Side of the Moon was performed in 1972 (before the album was released), it went under the title "The Travel Sequence" and was, instead of a complex electronic instrumental, a more simple guitar jam, without the use of synthesizers and other electronic instruments. A short clip of this is played on the DVD Classic Albums: Pink Floyd – The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon and can also be heard on all performances of Pink Floyd playing the album live in that year.

'We had originally go an "On the Run," a different thing, which is on a live one if you've heard one of those bootlegs, you might have heard a different version of it than is on Dark Side of the Moon. We had a sort of guitar passage, but it wasn't very good. We'd just got this new synthesizer, a briefcase model EMS-1 [Synthi AKS], and in the lid there was a little sequencer thing. I was playing with the sequencer device attachment, and came up with this sound, which is the basic sound of it. Roger sort of heard it, came over and started playing with it, too. Then he actually put in the notes that we made...it was his sequence, that "de-di-doo-de-di-dil"- -whatever it was. He made that little sequence up, but I had got the actual original sound and I actually was the one doing the controlling on the take that we used. Then we chucked all sorts of things over the top of it afterwards.'


  • At 27 seconds into the piece, the sound of a female voice on a loudspeaker can be heard; apparently an airport public address system. The announcer says "Have your baggage and passport ready and then follow the green line to customs and immigration. BA 215 to Rome, Cairo and Lagos". Engineer Alan Parsons later reused this sample on the Sea Lions in the Departure Lounge bonus track of the 2007 Deluxe Edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination by the Alan Parsons Project.
  • At 1:54, Roger "The Hat" Manifold, Pink Floyd road manager says: "Live for today, gone tomorrow. That's me", then laughs.


In a contemporary review for The Dark Side of the Moon, Lloyd Grossman of Rolling Stone described "On the Run" as a "standout with footsteps racing from side to side successfully eluding any number of odd malevolent rumbles and explosions only to be killed off by the clock's ticking that leads into "Time."[4]

Live performances[edit]

During the first official performance of Dark Side of the Moon, at the Rainbow Theatre on February 17th, 1972, a version of this song was played with guitar, keyboard and drums instead of the synthesizer track that appeared on the album. Subsequent performances matched the album version and, at the end of the song, a model aeroplane would fly from one end of the arena to the other, appearing to crash in a brilliant explosion. The same effect was used in the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, but with a flying bed rather than an aeroplane. The Division Bell tour would reuse the aeroplane, only this time with the back of it in flames for additional effects.

A live version of the song can be heard on the Delicate Sound of Thunder concert video, although it did not appear on the CD release. Another live version appears on the CD, vinyl, and DVD releases of Pulse.

Roger Waters and his solo band performed this song live in 2006 through 2008 during their tour, The Dark Side of the Moon Live.

The song was used by longtime public address announcers Tommy Edwards and Ray Clay of the Chicago Bulls organization during the Michael Jordan era as the theme for the visiting team at Bulls home games. This also marked the first use of songs of any kind in the live setting in the NBA.



  • Peter James – footsteps
  • Roger "The Hat" Manifold – spoken vocal

Other versions[edit]


  1. ^ Some CD pressings merge "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" and if these songs are considered to be one song then this song is the second track.
  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5.
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X.
  3. ^ Kendall, Charlie (1984). "Shades of Pink - The Definitive Pink Floyd Profile". The Source Radio Show. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  4. ^ Grossman, Lloyd (24 May 1973). "Dark Side of the Moon". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 August 2017.

External links[edit]