Tony Duhig of Jade Warrior - his home system, including the Roland guitar synth and the Emulator.
Tony Duhig is best known for his service with Jade Warrior, culminating in last years' epic Horizon album.
When I was eighteen I was listening to The Shadows, Duane Eddy and so on, which just goes to show how old I am! Eventually I met up with the other half of Jade Warrior, Jon Field, and started to listen to his jazz albums too. They included instruments you just didn't hear in rock 'n' roll music, like harps and vibes, and when we started a band around the age of 23 we integrated all those into our duo approach. All the other band members left because they were too musical; at that stage we played a sort of "jazz without technique", partly because I was using unconventional guitar tunings since I'd taught myself.
I'd never made any reference to the way other people played; nowadays open tunings are quite common, but we've been playing chords for ages which would have been considered as dischords a few years ago. Anyway, we eventually settled down with a Revox 2-track to do some recording for a couple of dance dramas, one called The Phoenix and The Dove and the other called Jade Warrior, from which we took our name. After a while we got a contract with Vertigo and our first album gave us the opportunity to do all sorts of studio tricks, such as multitracking choirs ages before 10CC did it on I'm Not in Love. In some ways we've been making the same album over and over again since then because we're always looking for certain effects, using orchestral textures from a rock viewpoint. That's why composing on an Emulator helped us a lot on Horizon because we were always interested in the power and size of a classical orchestra.
On Horizon we used the Emulator, a Roland GR500 guitar synth with the 808 controller, a LinnDrum, various acoustic and electric guitars including a CSL 6/12 string doubleneck and an Ovation, and of course flute, congas, percussion and a choir. Jon didn't take part on that particular album but normally he'd be playing flute, congas and so on, and we tend to use any instruments we can get our hands on to get the effects we want whether we can actually play it or not. The drum machine's partly programmed but partly played by hand to get a more human feel, since we'd rather have a few new misses than allow the music to become mechanical.
In the past no-one's believed that we haven't used synthesisers, but up till now they've definitely lacked depth and expression. With the introduction of sampling, synthesisers have really come of age as far as we're concerned, and the Emulator let us cut out a lot of overdubbing and allowed us to write really big pieces. On something like Riding The Maker you've got sampled gongs slowed down on tape, resampled and played with your whole arm laid across the keyboard!
As well as sampling we use a lot of tape techniques, including varispeeding gong sounds to bend their pitch. The main echo unit is a Space Station, but we also use tape echo from a Revox; the rest of the recording equipment is a Fostex A8, a Seck 18-8-2 mixer (the flightcased model) and an Ampex 1" 2-track for mastering. On Horizon we bounced up to 16-track for mixing at Chapell's but they didn't believe the tapes had started life on a Fostex! The performance can be amazing if you're very careful with it, and again the desk is a little hissy but there are ways of getting around that.
The guitar synth's controller is a lovely guitar, and I mainly use the synth for fanfare-type sounds. Now I've got hold of the new GR700 synth which is programmable, and of course that's a huge advantage. I'm going to use the existing controller rather than the new one because I've got used to it, and it has a better guitar tone because the new one's designed to produce the minimum of harmonics. Of course the triggering performance is more reliable on the new synth module, but I never had any significant problems on the old one because I tend to play large, slow chords on it rather than fast stuff.
Our next piece is provisionally titled The Epic and it's really a history of the world in twenty minutes. We're looking for epic scale, but of course that presents problems both in recording and performing it. We have some Emulator pieces already recorded for it, but since we're looking for immense size rather than immense volume the live performance is going to involve a massive choir, lots of musicians and a spectacular setting. Yorkshire TV are interested and we'd like to record the piece live, ambisonically, perhaps in a church somewhere. The intention is that once you've heard it you'll never need to hear another piece of music again!
Feature by Tony Duhig
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