Re: [Harp-L] simulate horn section
- To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [Harp-L] simulate horn section
- From: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:20:54 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
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- Reply-to: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Robert Hale wrote:
<What is the most horn-like effect I can get from one harp and a processor?
<...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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