Re: [Harp-L] simulate horn section

Robert Hale wrote:
<What is the most horn-like effect I can get from one harp and a processor?
<Pitch shifter?
<...all of them in a stew?

A pitch shifter can do octaves as well as other intervals.  Whatever interval(s) you're using, the short answer to your question is that a pitch shifter set to an octave down is a good starting point for horn simulation. 

The harmonica is a (free) reed instrument.  The easiest thing to emulate with a harmonica where horns are concerned is other reed instruments, e.g. the saxophone.  According to research by Roland and Yamaha, most of a listener's perception of a musical sound is shaped by the attack, i.e. the initial portion of the sound.  it's the attack that tells us what instrument we're actually listening to. If you start with a reed instrument, it's relatively easy to convince the listener that you're playing a different reed instrument, as opposed to a brass instrument, piano, bells, etc. That said, I heard an arrangement of Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" by Sandy Weltman where the harmonica did a pretty convincing job of emulating a trumpet, with no FX at all.  Just get those attacks right...

Harmonicas generate a lot of energy in the upper mid and high frequency ranges, not so much down low.  An octave pitch shift down does a lot to put the harp into the same range as a tenor sax, and from there it's just about what you play.  Adding higher octaves, fifths, etc. gives you very interesting timbres, but I doubt that most people would perceive those sounds as coming from a (real) horn. 

In my opinion, the most important effect for any electronic musician is a delay. For harmonica, the next most important (in my opinion) is a pitch shifter.  Right after that are vibratos, rotary speaker FX, and autowah.  The last thing in line  for harmonica is chorus, flanging, and other time-based modulation FX--they're nice, but not essential.  (Those are personal opinions based on what I like to hear, not dictates from on high, of course.) All of these FX are available in robust form in most multi-FX devices at very reasonable prices.  I prefer the Digitech RPs and Zooms.

Regards, Richard Hunter

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