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Modern Music Tips | The H949 Harmonizer®

Modern Music Tips is a series that examines practical and creative ways to use effects processing in contemporary music productions.

Fraying The Fabric Of Time With The H949 Harmonizer®

A classic tool for adding sonic dimensions to your tracks

The H910, release in 1974, was the world’s first commercially available Harmonizer. It combined pitch change with delay and feedback. Artists could perform live and instantly create harmonies with unprecedented polyphony. Building on the legacy of the H910, the H949 was Eventide’s first 'de-glitched' pitch-shifter. Produced from 1979-1984, it introduced the MicroPitch effect, which used a proprietary single-sideband modulation technique for precise control of small pitch shifts. The H949 also offered unique flange, reverse, and randomized pitching effects made famous by the most groundbreaking artists of the last half-century. The H949 Harmonizer plug-in is a door into a timeless world of creative musical effects mayhem. 

To demonstrate its effective use in modern music production, we have picked a song entitled “Her Noble Spirit”, from the Change Request LP, RiteOnRed. This particular track is perfect for applying the sonic character of the H949, as it’s a Drum & Bass production (à la Roni Size or LTJ Bukem), making use of many of the numerous and distinctive H949 sounds.

 

Part 1: Drums

The drum programming of this track is only eight tracks separately, therefore a group mix bus is used for the section. These 8 drum channels are bussed to an aux return and that return track has an insert send feeding this first H949 Dual Harmonizer effect. 

Using an artist preset from Damian Taylor—Preset: Blurry Thick Percussion—perfect for driving the over presence and punch of the whole drum mix in parallel. Then, the original drum bus is mixed to taste against the H949 aux effect return channel.

H949 Dual Harmonizer - Blurry Thick Percussion Preset (Drums)

Part 2: Guitar

The rhythm guitar accent mutes emerge as a way to propel the harmonic motion of this song quickly forward. It has an interplay counterpoint with the pushed drum programming that’s contrasted against the synth bassline sequence. 

For this necessary rhythmic pedal effect, a really intense and fast attacking slapback delay is used—Preset: Ghost Delay—to give the guitar transients longer sustains cast atop a cascading sheen of modulating of delays.

H949 Harmonizer - Ghost Delay Preset (Guitar)

Part 3: Keys

The keyboard elements in this track are a mixture of one-take chord samples, layered with echoing brass swells and detuned upright piano chords lingering off into the distance. 

Since there’s already an inline delay effect on the three parts that make up this pattern—Synth Pad One-Shots, Brass Section Echos, and Detuned Distant Piano—just a slight amount of delay is used from the delay menu on the H949 Dual Harmonizer—Preset: Dub Delay—giving just the essential amount of character and regenerative color.

H949 Dual Harmonizer - Dub Delay Preset (Keys)

Part 4: Synths

The synth parts of this track are similar compositional utility, using a mixture of one-shot lush swells layered on top of pads and brass sounds. The idea with this particular sound design is to create long, sustained decaying tails on these synths, as to interplay with the shorter delays of the keyboard sounds and their respective rhythmic pattern accompaniment.

H949 Dual Harmonizer - Don’t Drop It - Guitar Preset (Synths)

This clever preset—Preset: Don’t Drop It - Guitar—that has been designed around a guitar for its source, is actually a total polyphonic instrument sustaining device. 

Extending the life of short notes, this setting cascades a lush, glitchy crystal sheen over the upper-mid-range of the signal, brightening up the instrument’s upper-range timbre. One of the most unique sounds of this machine as the end results sounds like a string section on top of the polyphonic pad layers.

Part 5: Vocals

This spoken word sample used here features the wisdom of the great Maya Angelou. Expounding that it’s a virtue to brave daily existence while still, nobly remaining positive and poised. This monotone speech gets an inline harmonic distortion treatment courtesy of Newfangled Audio's Saturate—Preset: Getting Hotter—making the timbre of her voice really begin to cut through.

Then, this vocal is aux sent to an effect return channel with an H949 Dual set in long delay modes, pairing with an outer space factory reverb setting with Blackhole® —Preset: Neutrino—otherworldly sonic texture.

Saturate - Getting Hotter Preset & Blackhole - Neutrino Preset

Uniquely its own thing, this one-of-a-kind effect—somewhere between a delay, a reverb, and the infinity of outer space—Blackhole is perfect for adding artificial spacious sheen and lush metallics to the decaying long reverbs it is known for. 

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