Shutter on the Scene [9:55] 18.5Mb

Shuttered Sorrow

Perhaps the most interesting thing to mention in respect of this particular track is that the credit to the Mellotron is actually bogus. When recording the tracks it became clear that the other sections built around it would have to be scaled up or down according to key, and rather than record and re-record the Mellotron tracks it was easier to record the entire Mellotron sections (strings and some choirs) via sampler through MIDI. The difference is that the samples used are not commercially available ones, but recordings of my own M400 placed into a digital sampler without any effort to noise reduce them, tweak their EQ, normalise them or generally mess about with them to make them 'acceptable'. Sure the Mellotron is a noisy instrument - it has thirty five open playback heads for starters, not to mention a red hot output - but in my experience any samples offered so far by a variety of commercial ventures have been flawed by the manufacturers trying to edit them in some way. (Or loop them, heaven forfend) One other cardinal sin is for a sample library to be recorded directly from the tape or digitised tape source, instead of via a Mellotron. Not only does this make the sound far too clean, it also does not introduce the pleasing distortions that the instrument introduces to the music.

Mostly for this reason, sampled Mellotrons can be spotted a hundred yards away no matter how they are buried down in the mix. If nothing else I show here that making a sampled Mellotron sound like a Mellotron is still possible. Given the fact that there are precious few of these magnificent instruments in circulation, samples are the easiest (and cheapest) way to access the sounds that made this instrument famous. It would be a pity if their legacy was left to a handful of enthusiasts like me and some badly constructed and unrepresentative sample libraries.

This is also available on YouTube.