I had an idea for a song last week, something slow and heavy, inspired in part by Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced”. I put a drum track, synth drone, and bass together quickly, then recorded a few harp parts over it. I still need to do the vocals and a solo, not to mention a final mix and mastering, but I’m excited by the sound of this thing already, so I’m putting a little taste out there for your listening pleasure.

Richard Hunter with LowlandsHere’s the piece, called “If I Open” (copyright 2011 Richard Hunter/Turtle Hill Productions, all rights reserved, of course):
“If I Open” by Richard Hunter ROUGH MIX EXCERPT

First things first: there are no guitars on this recording. The instrumentation consists of synth bass (the Manybass VST plugin), a synth pad (drone) sound (courtesy of Wusikstation 6), and sampled drums (The Steven Slate Collection Metal Hybrid set, to be exact, plus percussion by Drumcore 3). The things that sound like big metal guitars? Those are harmonicas (a Seydel 1847 in G and a Lee Oskar low F) running through my RP355, using a couple of heavy metal patches from my latest patch sets for the RP350 and 355.

There are three main harmonica parts, one of which uses a low-pitched distorted sound, and the other two a higher-pitched sound with flanging on it. Both sounds use the Roger Mayer Octavia distortion effect from the RP355, one of my favorites–it doesn’t just add distortion, it adds octave overtones as well, and it really puts a big mean edge on the harmonica. I also used a little bit of a Master Volume amp modeled patch with a fast, deep vibrato that I used previously on my recording of “Pull of the Moon”.

I don’t think it’s amazing that you can get these sounds on a recording–in a modern computer-based recording studio you can do damn near anything to a source sound. I DO think it’s amazing that you can make these sounds on a stage, live, using a road-worthy device that costs under $200.

Sounds like this change the game for harmonica players. If you can make a harp sound like this on stage with inexpensive gear, then it’s not Chicago in 1955 anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with Chicago, but if you want go somewhere else, now you can.

For more info on my patch set, check out my store at this site.