Mellotron history and function

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Mellotron history and function

Post by øøøøøøø » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:20 pm

Hey y'all.

Here's an article I wrote on the Mellotron-- talks some history, some engineering/mechanics, and ends with a Spotify playlist of Mellotron tunes.

http://flypaper.soundfly.com/produce/ho ... o-special/

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by shadowplay » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:11 pm

Cool article. On more recent material, I hear a fair bit on Dungen records.

An older but incredibly freshMellotron favourite is Camel - Never Let Go, which has a snazzy Mellotron solo 2.30 in give or take but it's mainly just a great song. Sadly all the YouTube links are down but this Spotify one might work.

Weird it works on non mobile; Camel - Never Let Go

Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider also has tasty Mellotron and scores a near unbeatable 'Istari' on the scale early seventies scientists working at the University of Canterbury developed to stratify prog rock.

I'd also go into bat for Gentle Giant's - Pantagruels Nativity

The prog I like tends to come from the flute and Mellotron solo end of the spectrum, as opposed to the more rocking side, so I find a lot of Mellotron love.

I could go on all night but probably of limited interest and I've a feeling someone like mijmog could just ride in and make me look like a prog neophyte in possession of only vestigial cape credentials.

I'd also recommend Sergius Golowin - Lord Krishna Von Goloka which is has a Mellotron in every bite (very much reminiscent in style to Popul Vuh) and is IMO one of the most magical and underrated albums of all time.

Btw could anyone confirm if it's Mellotron on Outdoor Miner?

D
Last edited by shadowplay on Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by Singlebladepickup » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:21 pm

There's a cool video of Sir Paul McCartney playing one for people at abbey road studios, and he shows how playing one note played a sample of like a full band with guitar and keys, and could be transposed into a different key with the push of a button. Then he played strawberry fields intro, and people clapped.

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by BoringPostcards » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:21 am

Very interesting article. I learned a lot. Thanks man. :)
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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by StevenO » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:58 am

Singlebladepickup wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:21 pm
Then he played strawberry fields intro, and people clapped.
That reminds me of the Simpsons episode with Bart as the "I didn't do it" boy, so he tries something new and says "wizzle wozzle" and people are confused because they only want him to stick to schtick. :D


Excellent thread, Brad. :-*

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by MechaBulletBill » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:54 pm

I know an organ tech who recently said to me "I shouldn't start talking about mellotrons coz i might end up talking for two weeks without stopping".

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:03 pm

shadowplay wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:11 pm
Btw could anyone confirm if it's Mellotron on Outdoor Miner?
Assuming you're talking about the vox humana, I always assumed it was Colin Newman's voice doing that bit, as that's what it always sounded like to me. I'm not sure if Mike Thorne had a Fairlight in 1979 (or if they even existed at that point), but the continuous 'Aaaaaah' thing was certainly possible with plain old tape, as 10cc confirmed.

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by shadowplay » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:17 am

UlricvonCatalyst wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:03 pm
shadowplay wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:11 pm
Btw could anyone confirm if it's Mellotron on Outdoor Miner?
Assuming you're talking about the vox humana, I always assumed it was Colin Newman's voice doing that bit, as that's what it always sounded like to me. I'm not sure if Mike Thorne had a Fairlight in 1979 (or if they even existed at that point), but the continuous 'Aaaaaah' thing was certainly possible with plain old tape, as 10cc confirmed.
Yeah you are probably right, just cleaver clogs with tape. Had pretty much died by that time, at least OMD aside. This is both magnifient and Mellotronatical ; OMD - Stanlow. Really influential on East India Youth - Carousel too.

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by mijmog » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:55 am

Great article Brad, really good read. Thanks for this.

One of my favourite pieces of Mellotron playing is in the track Voyage by Family, almost "epic post rock" in its style. A bonkers track off a great, often ignored album, quite advanced for '68 too - the use of tape loops and elements of music concrète really fill out their sound.

And yes, as David mentioned, the last Dungen record "Akt Dit" is full of great Mellotron - having seen them live a fair bit recently I can safely say I have incurable GAS for the Mellotron M4000D. They do a nice medley of a few instrumental tracks from "Tio Bitar", "4" etc all with the Mellotron playing a large role.

Discuss: Is the M4000D the most postmodern instrument ever built?

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by shadowplay » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:04 am

mijmog wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:55 am


Discuss: Is the M4000D the most postmodern instrument ever built?
Trentemoller has one of those too. I had a child ask me for one with a straight face, they didn't know they were the best part of two bags of sand but still... :D

I knew you come in with some sort of fandango choice.

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:48 am

I love Outdoor Miner.
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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by shadowplay » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:38 am

mijmog wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:55 am
Dungen

OT and apologies but that Dungen - Häxan (Versions by Prins Thomas) record has been getting a lot of play in our house recently, it's beautiful. Goes PERFECT with that low, golden early winter light. i know you'll been on this ages ago but it just bears saying in general, it's lovesly as my youngest is wont to say.

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:18 am

shadowplay wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:11 pm
Cool article. On more recent material, I hear a fair bit on Dungen records.

An older but incredibly freshMellotron favourite is Camel - Never Let Go, which has a snazzy Mellotron solo 2.30 in give or take but it's mainly just a great song. Sadly all the YouTube links are down but this Spotify one might work.

Weird it works on non mobile; Camel - Never Let Go

Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider also has tasty Mellotron and scores a near unbeatable 'Istari' on the scale early seventies scientists working at the University of Canterbury developed to stratify prog rock.

I'd also go into bat for Gentle Giant's - Pantagruels Nativity

The prog I like tends to come from the flute and Mellotron solo end of the spectrum, as opposed to the more rocking side, so I find a lot of Mellotron love.

I could go on all night but probably of limited interest and I've a feeling someone like mijmog could just ride in and make me look like a prog neophyte in possession of only vestigial cape credentials.

I'd also recommend Sergius Golowin - Lord Krishna Von Goloka which is has a Mellotron in every bite (very much reminiscent in style to Popul Vuh) and is IMO one of the most magical and underrated albums of all time.

Btw could anyone confirm if it's Mellotron on Outdoor Miner?

D
Yeah man.

I stuck to older references for two reasons--

1) if I didn't, then 99,000 people would be all up in the comments talking about "what about Strawberry Fields, blah blah." I figured probably better to stick with the most familiar stuff that almost everyone likely knows.

2) with more contemporary stuff, I honestly can't be 100% sure in every case what is real Mellotron and what's a virtual emulation. I figured for this reason better to stick to stuff that predates M-Tron and the digital Mellotrons etc.

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Re: Mellotron history and function

Post by shadowplay » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:36 am

øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:18 am


Yeah man.

I stuck to older references for two reasons--

1) if I didn't, then 99,000 people would be all up in the comments talking about "what about Strawberry Fields, blah blah." I figured probably better to stick with the most familiar stuff that almost everyone likely knows.

2) with more contemporary stuff, I honestly can't be 100% sure in every case what is real Mellotron and what's a virtual emulation. I figured for this reason better to stick to stuff that predates M-Tron and the digital Mellotrons etc.
Yeah totally get you on that, it's definitely rare later on bar OMD who were well known for using a real Mellotron.

It's a lovely sound. On the first camel track Never let Go I love the Mellotron, especially the sort of gliding string parts at the end of the 'flute' solo and the fact that the tracks sounds really pretty fresh.

Btw anyone who likes that track and doesn't fancy the whole album should have a look at Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present: English Weather, which is IMO an expertly compiled collection of tracks on the fringe of prog and some well known tunes, you are getting the benefit of a lifetime of digging. Worth it just for BelleGonzales epic song Bottles IMO.

Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present English Weather on Spotify only 12 of the tracks

D
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