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Topic: Mellotron

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  1. #1

    Mellotron

    I have one! I mean a real one with original cartridges.
    I´m thinking about the best way how to sample this beast.
    Anyone ever heard the existing Mellotron sample sounds?
    What was wrong with it and how would you trigger/program the weird respsonse you get when playing softly?
    Best regards,
    Michiel Post


  2. #2

    Re: Mellotron

    My "problem" with Mellotron is that when I hear the one in 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', I go, OMG! But when I hear how a real mellotron sounds (or unprocessed samples) my ears begins to bleed. These things sound cold and harsh!


  3. #3

    Re: Mellotron

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexcremers
    My "problem" with Mellotron is that when I hear the one in 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', I go, OMG! But when I hear how a real mellotron sounds (or unprocessed samples) my ears begins to bleed. These things sound cold and harsh!

    Cold and harsh? That's why they are good!

  4. #4

    Re: Mellotron

    Quote Originally Posted by Not Dudley Simpson
    An Ondes Martenot or a Baldwin electric harpsichord, however...
    Heath
    I second that about sampling an Ondes Martenot...

    John.

    P.S. Any news about the Clavichord?

  5. #5

    Re: Mellotron

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexcremers
    My "problem" with Mellotron is that when I hear the one in 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', I go, OMG! But when I hear how a real mellotron sounds (or unprocessed samples) my ears begins to bleed. These things sound cold and harsh!

    One of my favorite albums of all time!

  6. #6

    Re: Mellotron

    Me too! At age 15 or so...living in England...this record made me want
    to become a musician. And here I am.

    It's a silly record of course...but magnificent too. This band, and this record in particular, has been so unfairly maligned. I mean...I love 3 chord songs too...and everything from Hank Williams to The Clash...but this stuff was so wonderfully imaginative. Imagine...a double album with four 20 minute songs...err...movements...err....whatever!

    I wish I could figure out how to get the record cover (so wonderful to the mind of a fifteen year old!) into MY post!

    Rob

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Mellotron

    As a sample maker (my own), sample user, Mellotron owner, engineer, and follower of Yes (among others) back in the days, I'll give my two cents on various aspects.....

    Topographic Oceans, side 2 for example.....if you have your own real Mellotron lying around, do this. Plug the quarter inch mono output on the back to the input of a mono compressor. Set the compressor to a very high ratio such as 6:1 or 10:1. Run the output of that into a delay. Delay the signal 40-60msec. With the undelayed signal going left and the delayed signal hard right (through your console), bring up the two channels and add a fair degree of reverb. There, now you have the Topographic Mellotron. It's the extreme compression/delay/reverb that gives that specific wash. You can also do the same thing (with less reverb) to get the "Heart Of the Sunrise" intro Mellotron.

    Now having said that...imo, do NOT clean up the warble/etc of the Mellotron before making an archive set of samples. In other words, don't make an archive consisting of all that above processing. I tried that in the early 80's and it sucked as an archive.

    What I finally did (which worked very well) was sample each note from all my tape sets into a digital recorder. One 8 second note at a time. Dry and in mono. Took me a week. Over the years, I've then sampled that into various samplers.

    I did have a strobe tuner hooked on the output at the time to order to twirl the Mellotron tuning knob to get the notes in relative tune for the initial notes, but I did NOTHING to try and stop the periodic warbling and screwy wow/flutter during individual notes...and no compression...because it's the junky sound of the raw Mellotron that's where the magic is ....that adds to the beauty of the sound when you DO apply all the above compression etc when recording.

    I don't know what you mean by the sound of fast triggering. All you get there is the rubber roller hitting the tape during the tap of a key. Which comes across as the same sound when you trigger your own homemade mellotron samples this way. When I play softly on the Mellotron keyboard, it's the same sound. No velocity exists. Either the rubber roller hits the tape and capstan or it doesn't.

  8. #8

    Re: Mellotron

    Yes!!! Baldwin Electric Harpsichord please!!! Mr. Post, you'd be a good developer to do it...

  9. #9

    Re: Mellotron

    I'm with Justin. Bring on the electric harpsichord!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Sep 1999
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    Dallas, Texas
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    5,755

    Re: Mellotron

    re: Mellotron in great albums of the past...

    Anything you hear on classic albums like "Tales..." is much more a result of classic and experimental studio technique than the raw input.

    We live in a time where there is great capability being offered to musicians at a very low price.

    But along with that comes the "equal and opposite reaction" of less originality being applied to the raw material. As evidenced almost perfectly in this discussion and many others, people get a sample (Mellotron in this instance), and are disappointed (even baffled) when it doesn't sound like what they've heard on an album.

    No one take this as a "put down," please, but rather as a call to experiment with these sounds. We have so much available to us!! People couldn't have dreamed of what it would be like to have enough delays and effects to cover every channel, or to have hundreds of tracks to create with--with no bouncing required!!!!

    Don't just take samples out of the box and expect to create recordings of distinction. For all of the tools we have right now, it is still exactly as difficult to create a truly distinctive piece of art as it was in the 1970's. In fact (if you have not lived and produced music through all that time), you would be surprised at how very little has actually changed.

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