Monday, April 15, 2013

the story behind the Hammond

Every good instrument should have a story, a touching journey through time and the elements endearing every wise and weathered note to your nostalgic ears. Take for example the stories of Paul McCartney’s old Hofner violin bass with accompanying decade-old black and white photos so iconic that one forgets all about the instrument’s characteristically weak tone and appalling lack of sustain.
My Hammond Romance Series Stage II Rhythm, is accompanied by no such charm. Just a call from my father-in-law about a call from his best friend about a call from his plumbing customer whose anxieties about her leaking fixture were compounded by the lack of space in her garage. That dusty old organ that hadn’t been used in years. “I’d like it to go to a good home” the elderly woman said. Mine is a good one.
Romanceless, indeed. However, the faded plastic buttons and retro style of the organ piqued my curiosity as to it’s origin and led me to do a bit of research online. My results were equally mediocre. One had just sold on for £1.49. But every good instrument should have a story.

“It was 1977 when the two young lovers eventually decided that New York City was not a place to raise a child. Brooklyn was home, but too many bad news reports and police sirens rang in their ears along with the persistent nagging of an uncle who was retiring in Florida and who had just scored a  piece of land for an incredible price in a place called Deltona. It sounded to the couple that the town would be safe for the newest addition to their family who would irresistibly come in just a matter of months now.

The young father remembered his young father playing the wall piano in the sun-drenched dining room on Saturday afternoons. His home too would be filled with music. So, after the baby came and all the necessities were arranged in her white and yellow room, Mother acquiesced to her husband’s insistence.  Considering the ample income from the young man’s new management position at the dairy plant, within several weeks, the Hammond would complete their home.”
I am in love with this organ. It’s quirky multi-colored buttons labeled with pictures of instruments the sounds of which share no correspondence to the noises coming out of the speakers are none-the-less adorable. The click-buzz-hummmmmmm that welcome’s you when you flip the switch seems to say, “Hey, there. It’s been a while. So glad you plugged me in, let’s jammmmmm-hmmmm”
I embarked on The Rafter project determined to capture a warmer, fuller sound than I had on my previous EP.  My mind’s ear heard keys of some sort, MIDI organ sounds probably. But as I moved the recording process to my home, I am now left working with what I have on hand. So I rolled the Hammond from the living room to my office/studio, stuck a condenser mic in it’s mouth and hit the record button.

Below is a sample of a riff from the Hammond that you will hear again on the album. I’m quite proud of it:

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