Hal­lelu­jah, cho­rus!

Computer Music - - Make Music Now -

Cho­rus ef­fects at­tempt to do as their name sug­gests – trans­form one sound into many. This is achieved by play­ing copies of the orig­i­nal sig­nal back with slight vari­a­tions in pitch and de­lay time. The Ham­mond or­gan had a prim­i­tive ver­sion of cho­rus­ing, and you may al­ready have no­ticed the sim­i­lar­ity to Ken Townsend’s ADT ef­fect em­ployed by the Bea­tles at Abbey Road.

The tech­nique got an­other air­ing in the 70s, when it was used to thicken the sound of string ma­chines such as the Solina String Ensem­ble.

How­ever, most mod­ern cho­ruses can be traced back to Roland. Yep, them again! In 1975, Roland re­leased their much-lauded JC-120 Jazz Cho­rus gui­tar am­pli­fier which, as you’d prob­a­bly guess, fea­tured the first ap­pear­ance of the com­pany’s ‘Di­men­sional Space Cho­rus’ ef­fect. This fab­u­lous fat­tener was ef­fec­tively too good to be con­tained, and by 1976, it had been dis­tilled into a stomp­box: the Boss Cho­rus Ensem­ble CE-1. In 1979, Roland trun­dled out a ded­i­cated rack-mount­able unit: the Di­men­sion-D.

The cho­rus ef­fect be­came all but com­pul­sory in the 1980s. It was the sound of the New Wave, and MTV-ready rock­ers slathered it all over their basses and gui­tars. Cho­rus cir­cuits found their way into synths, too. Roland’s valiant ef­fort to bring low-cost poly­phonic synths to the masses re­sulted in a num­ber of sin­gle-os­cil­la­tor in­stru­ments with a cho­rus tacked onto the end of the sig­nal path to add the nec­es­sary width. In­stru­ments that didn’t have a cho­rus fea­ture were more of­ten than not plugged into a cho­rus pedal. It was the 80s, af­ter all!

Need­less to say, the orig­i­na­tors would soon be joined by a host of im­i­ta­tors. By the end of the 70s, Elec­tro-Har­monix had brought out their Small Clone pedal. It was pretty pop­u­lar at the time, but th­ese days it’s pos­i­tively de­i­fied, thanks to be­ing cham­pi­oned by Nir­vana’s Kurt Cobain.

“Cho­rus was all but com­pul­sory in the 1980s”

Moder­ately suc­cess­ful upon re­lease, the Small Clone be­came an in­stant clas­sic the mo­ment Kurt Cobain patched one in

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