Love Will Tear Us Apart – Intro and More

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Intro and More

This post gives a bit of background and musical information about the song Love Will Tear Us Apart.






Love Will Tear Us Apart is a song that was released by Joy Division in 1980, a couple of months  after the tragic death of their lead singer, Ian Curtis. A dark lyric is matched with an atmospheric backing track. The song is built around a fantastic melodic bass riff written and played by Peter Hook. Most of the rest of the accompanyment consists of a drum track and keyboard parts played on an ARP Omni 1 synth. Bernard Sumner has previously stated that he used a Solina String Ensemble synth for the recording of this song Рbut he is playing the ARP Omni 1 in the official video.

The intro, a middle section and the outro do have guitars on – in some versions you can also hear a guitar playing a D5 chord most of the way through the track. Bernard Sumner has confirmed that live Ian Curtis played guitar during the song and that he was taught a D major chord in order to do so, a D chord can be droned throughout the whole song. In fact during the verse the keyboard part is an arpeggiated D5 chord (D-A-D-A) over the implied repeating Em-D-Bm-A chord progression.

As a little aside, apparently before recording the vocals Ian Curtis was given a Frank Sinatra album to listen to by Tony Wilson (Factory Records boss) and encouraged by both him and Martin Hammet (producer) to sing a little more like Sinartra. Did Ian Curtis take their advice? Well I think the vocal track definately shows his baritone voice developing, but you decide if that was down to listening to Sinatra or not!


The Intro – a mystery

The intro is firmly rooted in 8 bars of an A chord from the bass – See the video below where Hooky shows you how he plays the bass part. This is accompanied by an A5 chord played on the guitar – there is also an acoustic guitar that plays an accented part over the top of the chord. Bernard Sumner says this was played by him on an EKO 12 string acoustic.

The official video of this song was a filmed ‘live’ performance – however the sound quality was poor so the music track was swapped for the studio version – hence there is a mismatch in the sync of the video.

The mystery part is that Ian Curtis is clearly seen holding down an open G chord during the intro – (the rock version with the D note on the B string – see chart), why was he holding down a G chord when he should be playing a A chord???

Well I think I have found a solution – the chord over the intro sounds like a A7sus 4 – so if the top part of the G chord is combined with an A5 chord then a A7sus4 chord is the overall result. The open G string being the dominant 7 chord tone of A7. The overall chord would have no third, but a susupended 4th – the D note.


What is also clear from the video is that in the middle section and the outro the guitar and bass are playing an A chord, but Bernard Sumner can clearly be seen playing a D5 chord (D and A notes) over the top on the keyboards. The D note is the fourth in A major.

In the outro the bass and guitar move to a D after 8 bars for the little D to Dsus4 outro riff. This works really well with the track.


I have posted a couple of video lessons on this song.

Lesson One: Chords and riff

Lesson Two: Fuller lead part & intro/outro


Peter Hook’s Bass part



If you have any questions then just drop me a line.

Guitar lessons in Bristol, Backwell, Nailsea and Keynsham.

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1 Comment

  1. Ethos

    I actually have some fans on a Facebook page related to this stuff. I’ll share your post with them and see what they have to say. I’m sure they’ll love it though.


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