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Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:46 am

Thanks Desmond.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Kwaidan » Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:05 pm

I'd also like to add that J.J. Jeczalik (Art of Noise) also worked with Kate Bush during the 80's, as well as other artists.

It was well known that J.J. was a sought after Fairlight Programmer during that time.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby The Elf » Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:26 pm

That sounds like a very close emulation, Desmond. Nicely done!

Do I take it you have a collection of the original Fairlight library then? Hmmm... We should talk!!! ;)
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:45 pm

Fairlight samples have been around in various forms for a while. I'll let Steve join in and mention Zero-G's Nostalgia, and other people have put up their samples on the internets over the years, and for other discontinued samplers like Emulator II etc - I've mostly just grabbed them as they come along for curiosity (and for situations like this thread :) but I won't put up links because of questionable copyright.

If you want a legit collection of Fairlight sounds for Kontakt and other samplers, Zero-G are doing the Nostalgia samples (which includes the Fairlight stuff and a bunch of other stuff, authored by our very own Hollowsun) for about $100, which sounds like a good deal, especially if you don't wnt to do all that tedious mapping and looping stuff ;)

http://www.zero-g.name/dlg/cart/index.php?action=desc&pn=250&c=31&page=
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby The Elf » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:03 pm

Yep, I do have a few Fairlight goodies from down the years, but a definitive library would be interesting (though not necessarily very useful, to be truthful).

Once you've spent a week sampling, looping, mapping and legato-izing an ARP Pro-Soloist your home-spun sampling days are over! Never again! :crazy:
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:10 pm

The Elf wrote:Yep, I do have a few Fairlight goodies from down the years, but a definitive library would be interesting (though not necessarily very useful, to be truthful).

Yeah, exactly. It has a nigh novelty/curiosity value, and it has value if you are recreating something from that era, and of course you can get creative with the old stuff too. Look what Kate Bush did with that one library sound! But it is very simple compared to what we have these days.

I guess we can think of it as a slightly more modern Mellotron - the quirks, charisma and character are the charm, rather than the technical quality.

The Elf wrote:Once you've spent a week sampling, looping, mapping and legato-izing an ARP Pro-Soloist your home-spun sampling days are over! Never again! :crazy:

*cough* Keymap Pro *cough* Redmatica are awesome *cough*...

It makes multi-sampling almost a pleasure... :)
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:15 pm

desmond wrote:
Peter Conz Connelly wrote:Are you on about the melody bit or the breathy C / D# chord that plays throughout? I don't know about the melody but I do know the breathy chord is the SarahIIx / Arr sample (the most famous and mostly used Fairlight sound) played constantly with SH!T loads of reverb.

Hmm. I don't think that's the case. Certainly the Arr1 sample is pretty legendary, but I'm listening to the song now and noticing a few interesting things:

- The main pad that's holding the notes/chord underneath is really nice - there is a texture in there (definitely not from Arr1) that makes it really attractive. Certainly the breathy quality might come from Arr1 in there somewhere as a layer - it's pretty plausible in any case. But I don't think it's "the whole story", if you pardon the pun ;)

You can most clearly hear it on the intro and end fade out of the stuff as that chord holds after everything else has ended. I'm gonna dig out my copy of Arr1 and compare I think... :) You never now, that interesting texture might just be something as simple as an aliasing artifact, but I think there's something else in there, or at least it's a different sound to Arr1.

- The main riff sound is also the same sound playing chords throughout the song - I'd never realised this before. Hence the "I wrote that song on the Fairlight around that sound" comment from Kate.

- The main riff has a fairly obviously slap back echo on it which helps smooth it over and disguise it further.

My *guess* is that it's a string or orchestra hit sample, with a pitch envelope (or portamento) and lo pass filter envelope to give it that "bark".

We really are anoraks, eh? :)

Desmond, I loaded in the SarahIIx (Arrr) sample into my Series III, added a HUGE reverb with massive decay, played C/D# then faded up the sound... it sounded uncanny.. and that was without anything else going on or going to tape, etc. I even fiddled with the filter for more authenticity :lol:

Does anyone know if it was a Series III or IIx on Running up that Hill? The factory drums samples (set13, IIRC) that came with my Series III sound exactly like the ones on that track.

The woman who sang the arr is called Sarah Cohen, think she was a Fairlight employee. I wonder where she is now and if she realises how famous she is!!!

Definite anoraks tho ;) and I LOVE it!!!

P
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:48 pm

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:Desmond, I loaded in the SarahIIx (Arrr) sample into my Series III, added a HUGE reverb with massive decay, played C/D# then faded up the sound... it sounded uncanny..


Not sure what that means - do you mean it sounds like the part on the record, or just that you really liked it? If the former - audio clips or stfu :)

Did you listen to my clips of the pad and compare? I would have thought the series 3 would be too clean - the track itself is really noisy and grungy. Definitely early Fairlight or early digital reverb at least imo.

If the latter - well yeah, who doesn't like *lashings* of reverb occasionally :)

(It's a bit synth programming tip of mine, use a large reverb in wet mode before the filter only for a huge patch, if the synthesiser allows those routings.)

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:Does anyone know if it was a Series III or IIx on Running up that Hill? The factory drums samples (set13, IIRC) that came with my Series III sound exactly like the ones on that track.


It came out in 1985, so it might have even been made in 1984, which seems a bit early for a series three. All the promo pics I've seen are with an earlier model, so I'd guess it was a series 2 - however, the factory library might be the same samples, just resampled at a higher fidelity for the series 3 version... Not sure.

If it was done early 85, it's possible she got an early '85 series 3 and used it, but my guess it's it's still too grungy for a 3...

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:The woman who sang the arr is called Sarah Cohen, think she was a Fairlight employee. I wonder where she is now and if she realises how famous she is!!!


Yeah I know - they needed a female voice and she was the only lass around, so they roped her in. Imagine telling her then that her voice would be on countless hit singles for the next twenty years... :)
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Mart584 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:11 pm

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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby BJG145 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:17 pm

...only other offerings I've spotted so far apart from Nostalgia are Cult Sampler and this offering from Pro-Rec. I'm kind of surprised there aren't more.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:06 am

desmond wrote:
Peter Conz Connelly wrote:Desmond, I loaded in the SarahIIx (Arrr) sample into my Series III, added a HUGE reverb with massive decay, played C/D# then faded up the sound... it sounded uncanny..

Not sure what that means - do you mean it sounds like the part on the record, or just that you really liked it? If the former - audio clips or stfu :)

Hi Desmond,

I got it to sound very nearly as close as the record. I can't remember what reverb I used, this was in 2003 or something, but I did assign the Series III filter to LPF the breathy vox. It wasn't exact but I came to the conclusion even if Kate tried to replicate it today, she'd get close but not exact. There are probably a lot of factors that contributed to that sound, I can also hear tape hiss.

I'd imagine it was mostly IIx... but them drums... I aint heard them on any II libraries. Maybe Fairlight recorded them from KB, from that track, and added them to the SIII libs ;)

I really did like your exampled posted... VERY impressed with how close they sound.

P
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:05 pm

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:I got it to sound very nearly as close as the record. I can't remember what reverb I used, this was in 2003 or something, but I did assign the Series III filter to LPF the breathy vox. It wasn't exact but I came to the conclusion even if Kate tried to replicate it today, she'd get close but not exact. There are probably a lot of factors that contributed to that sound, I can also hear tape hiss.


Interesting - I tried all the usual suspects for that lovely mid character (all the other string samples, Arr1 etc), and the *only* sound I could get it with is the Cello2 sound, the same one Kate said she "wrote the song around" - because the tail of the sample is what does it through a long reverb.

It's funny, because that record was one of my all time fave and important "pop" tunes, and the characteristic of the opening and closing pad is *sooo* burned into my consciousness because every time it's played it's the first thing you hear - for me it's actually *the* signature of the track - you know, the bit of audio that instantly tells you what song is coming.

And the reason I'm confident on this is the second that Cello2 sample accidentally went through the reverb, my consciousness instantly pricked up and went "I know that!". It was quite dramatic - so much so, that if you play a different combination of notes with the exact same sound, my conscious brain ain't bothered - it doesn't take the slight bit of notice. Nothing registers. Up to the C/D# though, and straight away it comes to life and goes "Hey!".

And it only does this with the Cello2 sound.

Now of course it's possible that the Arr1 was filtered down to close the filter slowly, which might help get some character into the reverb (did the IIx have a filter and filter envelope on the samples? Can't remember...) I'll have a play and see if I can get close. But I'm still 99.8% sure it's Cello2, with whatever processing/reverb/freezing applied. And very noisy/grainy. *Awesome* sound. I love frozen reverbs...

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:I'd imagine it was mostly IIx... but them drums... I aint heard them on any II libraries.


Yeah, I had a quick listen to the IIx drums, didn't sound close, but wasn't really concerned at the time with them. Maybe a bit later I'll have a listen and see what I can hear/recreate, if we're going to definitively finish this puzzle :)

And yes, I am nostalgia-cly jealous of your Series III :)

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:I really did like your exampled posted... VERY impressed with how close they sound.


Thanks - like I say, I was only doing this through small cheap speakers and the sounds don't match completely - I could get them closer with some effort and critical listening/adjusting I'm sure. For me the main riff has a slightly sharper, "synthetic" quality which might be some aggressive EQ or something.

For me though the goal was to work out what it was, and I think, for me at least, I've achieved that. I'm not sure the audio examples demonstrate it as much as when you are playing around - it just feels like it's all in the right ballpark.

Great thread - this is something that's bugged me for a long time - rather surprising that it was me that ended up working it out for myself... :)

I like these "classic" sound deconstructing threads (SOS should do proper articles on this I reckon).

Anyone wanna have a go at the main big synth riff on Go West's "We Close Our Eyes"?
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:34 pm

You could be very spot on Desmond. Your examples are accurately close. I kinda hear there is something different going on with each note too. To me, it is also THE sound that I assoiciate with the track. I remember having this discussion years ago, on a Fairlight forum maybe, and the guesses at what the sound was made of were intersting. I kinda heard it somewhere in real life, can't remember what, but it was to do with something electrical (a lift / sub-station springs to mind) and I recall someone mentioning a recording of an Air Raid siren.

I do love these discussions too. The main lead riff you posted, is the closest replication I have heard yet.

Cheers,
P
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:11 pm

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:I kinda hear there is something different going on with each note too.

On the main riff? Yeah, there's at least some FX splashing, as the top note has more delay than the other notes on the riff.

Also, the sound when played back from software samplers is a bit "weedy", especially on the upper notes - on the record it's more satisfying chunky and meaty, due no doubt to the Fairlight's playback stages, and tape and whatever processing they did.

It's also a bit wetter than my version (I wacked it through the UAD EMT Plate on a short plate setting to make it wetter and thicker, which works quite well, but could've done a little more).

Like I say, these are all differences which add up, but the core sound is that one, I'm sure. I've tried replicating this on synths on the past, and haven't got close to it - as the OP said, it has this weird attack character.

In any case, I'll say that I think the reason this sound is so captivating is not so much *what* it is, but the context of how it's used. Sometimes people get caught up on a particular sound they like in a record without realising that it's often the context which makes it so effective. So in my book, what makes the lead part so brilliant is half the mechanics of what the sound is, and half the role that riff plays in the composition/arrangement - and the two together make a really effective hook for the track.

Good stuff!
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:22 pm

desmond wrote:
Peter Conz Connelly wrote:I kinda hear there is something different going on with each note too.


On the main riff?


No, with the C/D# Pad. Might just be separtion. The Fairlight would throw a note out at each output channel (each card was monophonic) which could be routed and panned independantly on a console so maybe this is what I'm hearing... or it could just be the movement of the note played at a lower pitch. The D# sounds smoother.

:)

P
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 27, 2010 1:26 pm

Peter Conz Connelly wrote:No, with the C/D# Pad. Might just be separtion. The Fairlight would throw a note out at each output channel (each card was monophonic) which could be routed and panned independantly on a console so maybe this is what I'm hearing.

Oh, I see what you mean - dunno, I'll have to defer to your experience on that one. That's a level of detail I hadn't got to ;)
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:13 pm

Ahhh, I just love a bit of Bush


:bouncy:
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:57 pm

I had a quick look at the drum situation. Obviously, making those early drum machines sound good (as opposed to dull, flat, dead and monotonous) requires a fair bit of skill. The drums on the record are pretty good sounding, and quite heavily processed.

Using the IIx samples I was able to get close to the kick and snare - the snare is quite squished and fattened on the record, and liberal use of the UAD 1176LN, EMTT140 and the SSL Buss Comp was getting it close. The record *could* imho have been using those samples.

But I couldn't get anywhere near the tom sound - none of the toms or tom-like sample in the IIx set I have could get me in the ball park, evening with quite a bit of processing. Can' rule it out, of course, we never know what they did. They might just have tried the library toms, thought they were rubbish, and sampled their own toms and used those.

Or the drums might be coming from something other than the Fairlight. Difficult to say - and I don't recognise the drum character from any of the drum machines around up to that point (and I'm fairly familiar with them - although I didn't look exhaustively).

I don't have any of the factory library from the III, so can't comment on those. I don't even think I've heard them (not in a record, I mean.)

My vote is still I think it was the IIx used on that record, and not the III, for all the sound quality reasons we've already gone into. Plus if Kate Bush got her own Fairlight, she was using someone else's in 1984, and there are plenty of pictures with her and a IIx (but not a III) - so I can't see buying a IIx for fifteen grand and then a few months later buying a III when it came out for £40K in time to use it on RUTH.

So, reasonably confident it was a IIx used. But don't know the source of the drums definitively yet.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Jonnypopisical » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:22 pm

I did a very quick mock up of the track and loaded in the Linn 9000 drums I had on EXS24 - the toms, kick and snare all sounded like the same (unprocessed) samples - the toms in particular were identical - it was the first samples I loaded - I think I just got lucky! I'l be working on the track proper in a few weeks time....
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:40 pm

Hmm interesting... again, the kick and snare were close (after some judicious compression) but I don't think it's the actual samples. It's just how drum machine kicks/snares sounded back then - low, chunky, and once you've bigged em up and swathed them in lashings of reverb a lot of the individual character gets changed and evened out anyway. I think with any of these boxes you could get a kick/snare sound that most people would think is the same without critical listening.

Jonnypopisical wrote:the toms, kick and snare all sounded like the same (unprocessed) samples - the toms in particular were identical


The toms again I couldn't get near, at least with a quick play and my Linn9000 EXS/Ultrabeat kit ;)

Audio clips please :)

In addition to the 80's drum machine vibe, there's also a slightly synthy/Simmons-ey quality to the drums as well (it's not a Simmons kit, but it has a kind of synthdrum-ish quality in there.)

Listening to the record, I think there's two sets of toms panned left and right anyway, one brighter and one darker...

Anyway, do post your track when it's done, be interesting to hear how successful you were with it...
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