Double Double MIDI Trouble

I just recorded a solo version of one of my fave film themes: Jerry Goldsmith’s main title to the 1967 spy spoof In Like Flint. I’ve adored the melody since childhood, and I blame it for instilling the love of chromaticism that made possible my extraordinarily uncommercial career.

I’d previously posted another version of this tune, performed upside-down on a friend’s lefty guitar. But that was all-analog — this time it’s digital. And I’ve used the video to highlight a favorite MIDI technique: doubling recognizable guitar sounds with non-guitar synths and samples.

I've been obsessed with this score since dinosaurs ruled the earth.

I’ve been obsessed with this score since dinosaurs ruled the earth.

It’s funny — being able to trigger pretty much any sound from the guitar isn’t necessarily as liberating as you might think. Sure, when you first try it out, it’s thrilling to conjure an electric piano sound from the fretboard. But who wants to hear some schmo noodle aimlessly on electric piano when they could be noodling aimlessly on guitar?

For better or worse, I find myself using this technique repeatedly. When I double a part effectively, the result still seems like part of the guitar cosmos. It feels like expanding the palette, as opposed to vomiting on it. (Not that I’d be above vomiting on a palette if it helped create a cool painting.)

Did anyone else encounter this sort of childhood musical contamination? A melody, progression, or tone that infected you early on, and colored everything after? I’m not talking image, like falling in love with the Beatles on Ed Sullivan or Nickelback on the CBC because they were so frickin’ cool. I mean a primal sonic imprint. Anyone?

19 comments to Double Double MIDI Trouble

  • Oinkus

    You running out to those Fishman amps in stereo ? It sounds great , love the midi stuff just makes things more fun to throw goop all over it and then shake it around! See you seem to be really liking the new guitar too (won’t mention Babicz bridges again) always more fun to play something you put together yourself. I think the sounds of Jon Lord playing a Hammond are infused deeply into my soul. Always been a huge Ritchie fan too Fireball is one of the first albums I ever owned. The guys used to jam at my house and play Lazy on my moms organ and through some awful gear but it was incredible and is burned into my brain.Right around the time I decided I wanted to play rock instead of classical, dropped the horns and picked up the Silvertone the parents bought out of the Sears catalog in the 50s.

  • joe

    I’ve been using the pair of LoudBoxes for live shows. (Though for these recordings, I’m just going direct to disk.) They’re working out well, though the product I want doesn’t really exist: An absolutely minimal stereo amp for use with computer audio. Something with enough power and headroom for drums, and with no EQ, built-in effects or anything else. (Because all those things can be controlled in software.) The LoudBoxes are awesome, and I can’t believe how well they do what they do. But I long for something with more power and fewer features.

    Oh, I’m ecstatic over this guitar. Now I only want to play big, heavy pieces of wood.

    Deep Purple always fascinates me. I tend to think “Hush” was the first truly heavy-sounding record. Plus, as a lyric, “Some stupid with a flare gun” is right up there with “plants and birds and rocks and things.” I think I want to make an album of the title. 😉

  • Grant

    As a kid, I used to adore the theme for this ancient, U-Boat themed DOS game I would play called “Wolfpack.”

    Not surprisngly, somebody uploaded that weird little, vaguely Russian-sounding dirge onto youtube. Did it influence everything after? I’m not sure. But I also remember being fascinated by the atonal harmonics that popped out when Kurt Cobain raked the strings between chords on “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

    As an aside, that guitar is awesome. I tend to think special things happen in that middle ground between Fender and Gibson styles.

  • I think for me, hearing Vince Guaraldi’s score for the Peanuts animated specials as a kid really opened my eyes. The music was sort of playful, but also sophisticated, and had a very different effect on the visuals compared to how I had heard music incorporated into other TV shows.

    Shortly thereafter, I started seeing the Schoolhouse Rock spots during my weekly saturday morning cartoon binge, which made me realize that songs could be about science or history, not just the 70s pop staples of love gone wrong or thinly-veild sexual innuendo. That was a game-changer.

  • NotSoFast

    Is Miss Eden to blame for the love iI feel when the full band kicks in for the I Dream of Jeannie theme?

    Anyhoo, yeah I love the doubling with MIDI too. Bass and Guitar are *tight* when its the same instrument. And some wet strings below the lead come up naturally as the notes sustain and gives a smooth cool.

  • Sebastián Enríquez

    Mr. Joe, maybe is not the topic but, have you ever heard about the B-Bender? Kinda cool thing that bends B string up to C with the movement of the strap.

  • Danny

    funny ‘notsofast should mention “i Dream of Jeannie” , the theme that plays when the bad sister (anti- jeannie) enters the room, and plot, is soooo rad. in fact, joe, the fuzz is outstanding. check it. But the sort of j. bond/spy music did it for me. the bad sister theme is kinda like that, but the theme song to the cartoon “Inspector Clouseau” killed when i was a young trumpeter (2nd grade). i think the spy stuff is straight chromatic. i have a few songs that utilize the spy angle, but it can be easily overdone. but a little Mancini never hurt. accept for the theme song to M*A*S*H*, suicide is painless. that is gut wrenching. note to joe: like how i tied the question in w/ fuzz boxes, a shared favorite subject, although somehow alan alda crept in. how does he do that?

  • mwseniff

    My musical imprint came late in life for me at age 21. The tune is “One More Red Nightmare” from the King Crimson album “Red” it is always playing deep in my brain. This album came out in the fall and I took up bass guitar the next spring, I moved to electric guitar by summer and began building my ” inner Fripp”. I was lucky enough to be encouraged by my pal that played bass, he was very patient and we were soon jamming daily (he was also a big King Crimson fan ).

  • Jermaine Eyum

    My first musical memory is my mom’s Spike Jones 78s, specifically “The Blue Danube”, “My Old Flame”, and “Holiday for Strings”. If nothing else this predisposed me towards satirico-comedic musical presentation and pretending to be a chicken onstage.

  • NotSoFast

    I really liked the video and song – well done! I was a kid in the 60s and all that stuff ate into my memory when it still had the record button on. Sure the Beatles & English invasion, Motown, pop bands like the Grass Roots but also the whole musical zeitgeist – little kids didn’t control the channel or the tv so we picked up Mancini, Ellington, BJ Thomas, Carpenters, and more than a little Roy Clark. TV theme songs got repeated over and over and over and over.

    However I think whenever I play its soft pop melodies from Grandma’s car radio and commercials are always lurking, inappropriately reaching out, touching me, touching YOUUUUU.

    • joe

      I think maybe your grandma and my folks had the same care. My little kid impression of the ’60s was all cushy soft rock. Grass Roots … Fifth Dimension … Glen Campbell … the Association. THAT was the sound of my ’60s, not Hendrix or the MC5. And I still love that genre. 🙂

  • George Harrison’s do-do-do-do riff in And I Love Her. I just love how it comes in, as if from the shadows, raising and lowering its eyebrows, as it were. For years I’ve been taunted by it, because I think it’s just so… almost annoyingly cool.

    But Joe, dig the piece and video. Great sounds, esp on the Gudinov chords. Curious, what’s your footswitch setup here? I see the two in front of you and I’m guessing the one on the right is a standalone drum machine? With a midi switch off screen to trigger the loops in Mainstage?

  • John Jones

    The first three notes of Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath. I can only imagine being a teenager in 1970. Just getting back from the record store with a strange album titled simply Black Sabbath fitting for the creepy album art. At first the rainstorm? Rainstorm what the hell am I listening to? Who put………….. BOOM!!!!!! WWWWWWAAAAAAAAA WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. WWWWWWEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUUU. Mind blown. Life changed. Wow.

  • Danny

    I never thought about the poor alienated youth putting on sabbath for the first time. Changed ’em. The Stooges did that to me. “You can do that?”

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