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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 Jonnypopisical » Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:04 pm

Anymore insights from anyone?

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

Postby fatbenelton » Sun Jul 25, 2010 1:12 pm

The Elf wrote:

It does sound reminiscent of my old JX-8P, so a JX-10 would do it too..

I was thinking MKS70/JX10 or JX8P...It's got that soft/rich quality to it.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:16 pm

I honestly don't think it can be anything other than the Fairlight. At that time, Kate was enamoured with the Fairlight and wrote everything on it. According to interviews, the only other synth she had at that time was a CS80, which she largely ignored once she'd discovered the joys of the more organic possibilities with the sampler.

I've tried to recreate this patch on a conventional synth, and while I could get close, I couldn't get close enough - the envelope behaviour is quite weird.

If anything thinks they can get this sound with a simple analog synth like a JX8P, I'd like to invite them to give it a go, see how close you can get and post up some audio clips...
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:27 pm

I had a quick listen the other day and I can certainly hear "Sampled" and "Fairlight" characteristics, particularly on the lower notes (where I'd guess they were played lower than the original sampled pitch). I have a JX-8P (which is my main current, go to, analogue synth) and had an MKS70 a few years back and neither of these sprang to mind (not like they did with the intro to Slave to the Rhythm). I think I am going to have to have a PROPER listen to this ASAP and see if I need to eat my words. lol

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

Postby Neil C » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:05 pm

On the credits for the album the only mention of keyboards is this:

Vocals, Sampler [Fairlight], Piano, Written-by, Producer - Kate Bush
(in the general credits)

and in the individual track credits:
'Sequenced By [Synthesizer] - Kevin McAlea' (on Waking the Witch)
and
'Synthesizer - Kevin McAlea' (on The Morning Fog) .

***

The individual track credit on Running Up That Hill is 'Balalaika - Paddy Bush'.

http://www.discogs.com/Kate-Bush-Hounds-Of-Love/release/193414

So that suggests a Fairlight on Running Up That Hill.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:14 pm

I doubt it was a JX-10 or MKS-70 as they weren't out till 1986. "Running Up That Hill" was released in August 1985.

The JX-8P was released "late '85" according to Pete Forrest, so is unlikely.

Also in Forrest's A-Z, Bush is not listed as any of the well-known-users of any of the Roland kit - just the CS-80 (on The Dreaming), a couple of Hammonds and a Rhodes. Also, the A-Z doesn't deal with digital synths, just analogue.

I know Forrest isn't always accurate with these dates as they're sometimes based on the dates of service notes rather than actual sales, so take the info at face value.

Listening to the track it sounds in the ballpark of a bowed instrument - whether it's a sample that's been tweaked, or a synth that's been sampled and tweaked I can't say, but that's my 2p.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:16 pm

Neil C wrote:On the credits for the album the only mention of keyboards is this:

So that suggests a fairlight on Hill.

You beat me to it while I was typing..! :D
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:07 pm

nathanscribe wrote:Listening to the track it sounds in the ballpark of a bowed instrument - whether it's a sample that's been tweaked, or a synth that's been sampled and tweaked I can't say, but that's my 2p.


Yeah, I get the same vibe, at least from memory (haven't gone back and relistened yet). Like an aggressively bowed cello, possibly manipulated a bit in envelope, pitch/ filtering, and with some delay on it.

Hey, if we could make this a little forum project, that would be great - this sound has always bugged me. Maybe we should each make a stab at doing a recreation and post up audio clips of our results, as some sound design fun..?
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby The Elf » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:09 pm

nathanscribe wrote:I doubt it was a JX-10 or MKS-70 as they weren't out till 1986. "Running Up That Hill" was released in August 1985.

I just said it was reminiscent of a JX-8P - I'm not nailing it to that synth, or any other. Plenty of synths can assign envelope to pitch. I'm not convinced it's a Fairlight, since the length of the pitch lift doesn't seem to speed up/slow down with the pitch of the note, but it's really hard to tell for sure.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby Axonaut » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:44 pm

Hey, if we could make this a little forum project, that would be great - this sound has always bugged me. Maybe we should each make a stab at doing a recreation and post up audio clips of our results, as some sound design fun..?

I don't want to spoil the fun, but you could ask Del Palmer, who did some of the synth programming for that album, AFAIK.

http://www.delpalmer.com/page13.htm

pm me if you need his email address or phone :tongue:
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:52 pm

The Elf wrote:I'm not convinced it's a Fairlight

Even though she only worked with the Fairlight at that time, the song credits only list the Fairlight, and she herself said in an interview that it was the Fairlight?

Of course, we don't know for sure, but there is significant evidence to say it most likely was the Fairlight with some unknown sound.
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:03 pm

The Elf wrote:I'm not convinced it's a Fairlight, since the length of the pitch lift doesn't seem to speed up/slow down with the pitch of the note, but it's really hard to tell for sure.

Can the Fairlight not apply pitch bend to a sample in the playing? Not a facetious question, I genuinely don't know. I've seen one in the flesh but not been lucky (?) enough to use it...

Regarding the JX thing, I wasn't assuming you thought it was a JX, I was just repeating what I'd found regarding whether it could have been. :)
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:07 pm

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

Postby The Elf » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:25 pm

nathanscribe wrote:
The Elf wrote:I'm not convinced it's a Fairlight, since the length of the pitch lift doesn't seem to speed up/slow down with the pitch of the note, but it's really hard to tell for sure.

Can the Fairlight not apply pitch bend to a sample in the playing? Not a facetious question, I genuinely don't know. I've seen one in the flesh but not been lucky (?) enough to use it...
I've never used one either, but I'm guessing it's capabilities were pretty limited. If it *is* a Fairlight, then I'm as intrigued as everyone else around here! :D
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Re: Kate Bush - Running up that Hill - main synth sound

Postby desmond » Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:47 pm

You know what - after a few minutes of playing around (I loaded the intro chord so I can have a nice listen. It's certainly not Arr1, drenched with reverb or not - it doesn't sound like it at all) I've come to the conclusion it is, as I suspected, almost certainly a modified version of the Fairlight's cello patch - this has the characteristic pitch sweep build into the sample.

It's not there yet, and is a bit munchkinny in a way it isn't on the record, but is very similar in characteristics.

Not only that, but while I was setting up FX sends, I accidentally sent this patch to the lone droney reverb I was testing the Arr1 sample on, and all of a sudden that weird character I was describing in the pad was there!

I'm going to play around with it more, but at the moment, I'm 99% sure it was the Fairlight, and about 95% sure it was one of the Fairlight cello factory samples (or at least one of the strings, haven't played too much yet), albeit edited a bit, FX, etc.

This has been fascinating for me. I'll see how close I can get it, and post audio clips etc.

Edit: Ok, I'm now 99.5% sure it was predominantly Fairlight string samples - there are a few with the right kind of character, including Cells, Violas and Violins. I don't know exactly which patch does what, but it's those for sure. And it's the main riffs, the chordal parts, and the sustaining background chords. And basically this means that apart from the real instrument parts (and possibly drums) then I can easily see how the whole arrangement was done on the Fairlight. It totally fits sonically.

Will have some fun working through the options and putting together some audio to listen - I think's it's pretty convincing. It certainly clears it up for me.
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