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Is This Really a Harp?


Acho

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A long time ago, I asked my dad about the instrument in the backgrounds after the word “become,” and before “tell me” as well as a touch in the ending. He explained to me that it’s a harp, and I’m guessing he meant one that you pluck. 

 


it’s been ages now, so wondering someone could fact-check because I listened to it again lately. Seems unusual seeing how this is mostly guitars. 

 

Also, regarding the spoken intro, is that her natural voice ? Sounds lowered and filtered. 

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You'll have to forgive my brevity because I'm currently holding my phone up to my ear at work trying to pick out the sound. It could be a harp but without headphones I couldn't be concrete on that. I will have a proper listen when I get home and amend my post, but I'm having trouble hearing it at the moment. There's no listed credits in the personnel for "harp" or even additional strings so it might just be a high chord played on acoustic guitar. I've replicated similar effects before, particularly on one with lighter gauge strings. It seems unusual to me that a pop song would include such a small sample of a harp - usually, pop music of the time would take full advantage of the use of such instrumentation, with powerful swells to reinforce a chorus. Like I said, I'll have a proper listen later but it could to either way. It's either a very small sample of a harp being played or a high chord on a classical acoustic guitar, that would be my guess.

 

As for her spoken word piece at the beginning, it seems to match the cadence of her voice. Interviews from around the time of the song's release are readily available and match rather well. There's definitely some studio magic going on to make her sound clearer and overall better for the sake of the teenage drama hosted in the song but it's mostly her. She may be employing a mild filter to make it seem like she's speaking through a telephone almost? I know it was a popular trope of the time.

 

I'll do a bit more research and report back.

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5 hours ago, Rhoda said:

You'll have to forgive my brevity because I'm currently holding my phone up to my ear at work trying to pick out the sound. It could be a harp but without headphones I couldn't be concrete on that. I will have a proper listen when I get home and amend my post, but I'm having trouble hearing it at the moment. There's no listed credits in the personnel for "harp" or even additional strings so it might just be a high chord played on acoustic guitar. I've replicated similar effects before, particularly on one with lighter gauge strings. It seems unusual to me that a pop song would include such a small sample of a harp - usually, pop music of the time would take full advantage of the use of such instrumentation, with powerful swells to reinforce a chorus. Like I said, I'll have a proper listen later but it could to either way. It's either a very small sample of a harp being played or a high chord on a classical acoustic guitar, that would be my guess.

 

As for her spoken word piece at the beginning, it seems to match the cadence of her voice. Interviews from around the time of the song's release are readily available and match rather well. There's definitely some studio magic going on to make her sound clearer and overall better for the sake of the teenage drama hosted in the song but it's mostly her. She may be employing a mild filter to make it seem like she's speaking through a telephone almost? I know it was a popular trope of the time.

 

I'll do a bit more research and report back.

Sounds good. When I was little it even sounded wood-windy. Now it seems like it’s sequenced, very weird. I’ve always hated how they snuck strange sounds in simple, guitar/piano songs. 

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Okay, I've relistened to it on good headphones. I really can't decide. It sounds like light tapping on an electric guitar that's being run through a mild delay or another kind of filter. You can hear it again quite prominently playing a different melody at 3:00 as she sings "somebody else". It's likely not being played, it sounds sequenced and very "digital" to me, if that makes sense.

 

It's a curious oddity though. I like things like that. I have never paid any real attention to this song before. It's amazing what you can hear in some music when you actually... listen?

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Edmachine

If you're talking about the up and down arpeggios, they sound like just a soft, sine-y synth to me. Actually, they remind me of the Udar, in fact very much of the first bit in this video:

I'd expect a harp to be a bit sharper, so to speak, with a bit more twang.

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3 hours ago, Edmachine said:

If you're talking about the up and down arpeggios, they sound like just a soft, sine-y synth to me. Actually, they remind me of the Udar, in fact very much of the first bit in this video:

I'd expect a harp to be a bit sharper, so to speak, with a bit more twang.

My middle-school self decided that it might be a sequenced synth with reverb. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
mr quick
On 12/7/2020 at 1:12 AM, Acho said:

My middle-school self decided that it might be a sequenced synth with reverb. 

this is right, it's just a programmed maj7 arp of a soft, probably sinewave synth. the effect on the intro vocals is just a mids-only EQ curve

Edited by mr quick
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