Effectology, Vol. 3: Cello Concerto for Guitar and Effect Pedals
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Posted: 29 June 2009 09:55 AM

http://www.ehx.com/blog/effectology-cello-concerto

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:00 AM | Link to this reply (#1)

CELLO CONCERTO for GUITAR AND EFFECT PEDALS

Part 1

In Episode 3 of Effectology we present the Electro-Harmonix Orchestra performing a original composition called “Cello Concerto for Guitar and Effect Pedals.”

Using a series of EHX pedals I was able to transform the sound of a regular guitar into the sound of a cello, string section, and solo horn.
In this post I will explain how I produced the cello and string section sounds.

If you do not own the pedals listed below, experiment with similar effects you have at your disposal.

There is never just “one way” to do things in music. By experimenting with different elements you may discover new sounds that are all your own!


THE CELLO

The first sound heard in the Concerto clip is one very similar to a solo cello. The pedals I chose for this sound were the HOG and the Holiest Gail Reverb.

There are four major instruments in the string family. Listed from highest pitch to lowest are the violin, the viola, the cello and the double-bass. They are all built the same way. The instruments are made of many pieces of wood glued together. The body of the instrument is hollow, creating a resonating box for the sound. Four strings (sometimes five on the double-bass) made of animal gut, nylon, or steel are wrapped around pegs at one end of the instrument and attached to a tailpiece at the other. They are stretched tightly across a bridge to produce their assigned pitches.

The violoncello or cello is the tenor voice in the string family. While shaped like a violin, the cello is much larger and is held between the player’s knees.

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:00 AM | Link to this reply (#2)

Part 2

The first thing I did to find this sound was to lower the pitch of my guitar into bass range of a cello. For this I used the HOG’s “Octave Bend” feature and the supplied expression pedal.

To tune the pedal more accurately than by using my foot I adjusted the pitch by hand using the fine tune knob located on the left side of the pedal.

Keep the foot pedal in the heel-down position with the HOG’s Exp. Reverse switch in the on position. Turning the fine tune knob clockwise will now lower the pitch of the guitar.

I lowered the overall pitch of the guitar down to the key of A. This is actually the range of a baritone guitar.

(The optional HOG foot switch controller allows you to save different tunings as presets!)

Normally a cello is played using a bow made of wood and horse hair.
The action of a bow on the cello’s strings produces a note with an attack much slower that that of a guitar played with a pick or fingers.
To slow down the attack of the guitar (in order to emulate the cello sound) I lowered the “lower” slider of the HOG’s envelope section.
The result was a slightly slowed down envelope, which was just the effect I was looking for.

To add the proper ambiance or space to the HOG’s sound I used the Holiest Grail reverb.

I chose a setting to mimic a small concert hall. I discovered by adding a small amount of the Grail’s “Spring” effect, a midrange resonance boost brought the cello sound to life.


STRING PADS

At 32 seconds into the recording I added a string section to the cello’s repeating line. To produce the string section sound I recorded two tracks using the effect chain seen below.

The Black Finger Compressor increased the sustain of the guitar to allow chords to ring or float for a long period of time.

OPTIONAL: Soul Preacher version.

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:02 AM | Link to this reply (#3)

Part 3

The POG was used to create a small amount of sub-octave and a large amount of the +2 octave.

The Poly Chorus provided the doubling or ensemble effect to make the sound much large than it really is.  The Poly Chorus is an analog device that has by nature a very limited high frequency response.  The output of the POG contains frequencies much higher than the Poly Chorus was ever designed to reproduce. Unable to reproduce these high frequencies, the Poly Chorus distorts in a very unique way.

This distortion added a very high-pitched raspy noise on top of the original signal. With the Poly Chorus feedback increased, the raspiness increased as well.

This rasp reminded me of a sound I heard produced by a real orchestral string section.

One of the finest studios ever built here in Chicago was called Universal Studios. I was very luck to have played guitar on hundreds and hundreds of sessions in their Studio A. This room was gigantic, large enough to hold a full rhythm section (guitar, bass, drums) and a full orchestra including percussion and choir!

I sat right next to the large string sections. After we would record a basic track, the string section would often add a second part.  As the strings overdubbed their next part, I would take my headphones off and listen up close to what the strings really sounded like in an isolated environment.

I was amazed at how much upper-end noise and garbage was produced by all the bows rubbing against the dozens of strings.  This noise is not often heard in the finished track when it’s masked by other instruments or reverb.

The Poly Chorus distortion reminded me of this “real life” noise.

I used the Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai set for a long repeating delay and reverb using the decay knob.


You will notice in the String Pad effect chain I used a volume pedal right before the Memory Man delay. Using a volume pedal allowed me to slowly fade in each chord producing swells while removing the guitar’s original attack.

I recorded this piece using an Ibanez Jem guitar direct into the computer. No guitar amps were used. If you are using a guitar amp, set it for a very clean, flat or neutral sound.

Below is a screen grab of the Pro Tools session.


Thanks for listening and please experiment!

Bill Ruppert

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:02 AM | Link to this reply (#4)

my mind if officially blown. smile

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:20 AM | Link to this reply (#5)

My favorite Effectology series video, from my favorite guitar-related manufacturer!

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:38 AM | Link to this reply (#6)

Hey Bill, Someone mentioned on HCFX that it sounded a bit like the music from ‘a clockwork orange’ that got me thinking…I’d love to hear an effectology version of the opening music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL4cFjmnQT8

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Posted: 29 June 2009 10:39 AM | Link to this reply (#7)

Very awesome.

I didn’t realize the presets on the HOG save the expression positions as well

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Posted: 29 June 2009 11:21 AM | Link to this reply (#8)

Beautiful :love:

If I didn’t already have all those pedals, your demo would have sent me directly to eBay to acquire them all.

Info about the value and pricing of vintage gear? Click here.
http://www.ehx.com/forums/viewthread/1929/

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Posted: 29 June 2009 11:28 AM | Link to this reply (#9)

Brilliant.  Great work. 
Just when I convinced myself that I don’t REALLY NEED a POG2, you go and do this.
I would assume that a similar cello sound would be possible using the POG2?

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Posted: 29 June 2009 11:35 AM | Link to this reply (#10)

Speaking of the opening music of Clockwork Orange, at 1:10 I noticed the Totentanz theme (Lizst.)  The theme is also heard in the soundtrack to the Shining. 

Kubrick must have really loved that theme.  I’d be willing to be it is slipped into scores of other Kubrick films too, though I can’t think of any other examples.

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Posted: 29 June 2009 03:04 PM | Link to this reply (#11)

Wow! Bill, that is just amazing!

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Posted: 29 June 2009 11:40 PM | Link to this reply (#12)

electro-melx
Clockwork Orange was a favorite movie of mine!
I never thought about doing the sound track.
Thanks for the great idea, I may do it.
If anything I will watch it again this weekend!

Thanks again.
Bill Ruppert

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Posted: 02 July 2009 03:21 PM | Link to this reply (#13)

Is that string pad sound possible with just a compressor and a Hog (with delay after of course)? I thought that instead of the volume pedal you could set up the slow attack on the Hog and go for it.

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Posted: 02 July 2009 08:49 PM | Link to this reply (#14)

jbeckl

Give it it a try!
One of the important ingredients in my brew was the Poly Chorus.
It really did add an X-factor to the sound that I never expected.
Th POG also has a +1 octave detune and +2 octave detune slider which helped fatten up the texture besides the analog Poly Chorus.

That said, I am sure you can find a similar sound with the HOG and other modulation pedals.
As I said before there is “no one way”.
Keep trying different things till you find your sound.
You just NEVER know what you will find till you try it.

All the experimenting may lead you down paths you never thought you would find.
I can not tell you how many times that while searching for one particular sound I have found something new and totally unexpected.

Experiment!!!

Bill Ruppert

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Posted: 03 July 2009 05:29 PM | Link to this reply (#15)

So amazing, never thought those sounds could be produced by a guitar. I’d really like a Polychorus now, but I’m hoping that I can hold off until an    
XO version comes out. Any chance of that happening soon?

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