I first recorded my piece “Put The Lever Down” in 1981.  I wrote the hook while jamming alone in a parking lot outside a rink where my dauighter was competing in a skating competition.  I recorded the whole piece, from first note to final mix, in 5 hours with Andrew Maness on guitar played through an octave divider to simulate bass, a cheezy rhythm box for electronic drums, and Erik Lindgren engineering.  In those five hours we recorded and mixed several parts on various amplified and acoustic harmonicas–there was a useful formula for electric harp ensemble in there, but I wasn’t really interested in a “signature sound” at the time (foolish me), so I didn’t pursue it in a series of pieces.  You can hear what those five hours produced at broadjam.com/rhunter; look for “Put the Lever Down”.  If I may say so, it’s a pretty passionate piece of music in its own wierd way, and it’s certainly one of the most unique electric harp pieces ever recorded.

I decided recently to do a new version of the piece with a more modern rhtyhm section sound.    You can hear the latest version at broadjam.com/rhunter under the name “Lever Down (Remix).”  I completed a mix several weeks ago, and I liked it fine, but now I’m going back in to tinker some more.

The main thing I’m tinkering with (other than getting rid of a lot of clutter in the midrange) is the harp sounds.  The first draft of the remix contains a pretty raw harp sound that’s very similar to the 1981 original (which was recorded through a Boss BF-2 flanger into a tweed Fender Champ amp that Erik Lindgren had rescued from somebody’s sidewalk trash in Cambridge a few days earlier–don’t ask me why anyone in their right mind would throw out a working Tweed Champ; maybe it was a revenge thing).  It’s a hot sound, but I decided I wanted something more obviously electronic. 

What I’ve done for the latest mix, which should be completed this week, is put two pitch shifters on the harp, one set to a perfect 4th down, the other to an octave down. You hear the 4th down first, then the octave down, then both together. I put a lot of effects on the pitch shifter too, and it comes out sounding something like a distorted tenor sax that adds a lot of weight to the harp.

I may mess with it some more–I might add an octave and a perfect 5th up, too–but I’ve already got something more electronic than what I started with.  And for this remix, fresh sounds is the name of the game.

That reminds me: got to put some strings on it too to add some high end sheen.  A producer’s job is never done, at least until just before deadline.