So I have an expression pedal that I rarely connect to my Memory Lane. Rarely. It controls the feedback, and when pressed all the way down, can send the Memory Lane into huge self-oscillation. I use it sparingly, for just enough oscillation to transition songs every once in a while, or build, or add texture, whatever you like. But when I’m not using it, I disconnect it completely from the delay…because it’s way too easy to accidentally hit it; and if you’ve ever had a Memory Lane, the oscillation can get luscious. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes the sounds I find to be luscious, might not have the same level of lusciousness to other people. Hence, to avoid accidental lusciousness, I disconnect the expression pedal and let the Memory Lane default back to where I have the repeat knob set.
However, on Sunday morning during rehearsal, I forgot to unplug it from when I had been practicing (all that really means is turning on lots of delay, hitting a note, and then just smiling for hours) earlier that week. So we’re doing ‘Amazing Grace.’ Just our acoustic player, and two other vocalists. I’m not doing anything. Which is what I planned. But that is hard. So I went in for just one note. Just a simple swell. One note, to glide above the melody, and slowly decay behind the acoustic picking. So on go the fuzz and all the delay pedals. So, it’s obvious where this is going. Yep. Lusciousness. Tons of it. But it’s worse. See, I run everything in true bypass loops. So, the expression pedal has been all the way up, oscillating whatever white noise from the power supply it’s picked up and whatever bleed it’s gotten from the bypass loops (let’s be real here, even with quality bypass loops, signal always finds a way…definitely stole that from Jeff Goldblum…great actor who isn’t afraid to leave the pathway a bit..Pittsburgh was a killer film…please see it, just without the ‘please’), since I turned my rig on about an hour earlier. Yes. One hour of built up self-oscillation. That I haven’t heard or noticed, because the bypass loop is keeping it out of the signal chain.
So I hit the bypass loop, so that the Memory Lane can assist in the swell. And the sound that came out, was the most ear-piercing, high-pitched…you know those sounds that you can feel in your brain, and they make the room look like Topher Grace and Tommy Chong in bell-bottoms? (That 70′s Show, people, do I really have to spell it out?) Ya. It was…uh…incredible. I have never heard that sound before. Nor do I care to again.
(Jeff Goldblum in all his ‘choice of acting roles’ splendor. Remember when these were good effects? Ya. Me too. I was 9 when this movie came out. I remember seeing it at a friend’s birthday party. I covered my eyes at parts like this. I told myself it was because my parents had said not to watch PG13 movies; so then if I closed my eyes at all the ’13′ parts, I’d be okay. But really I closed my eyes because I was just absolutely freaked out. Hey man, that T-Rex used to look really real. However, this movie does contain the iconic line, delivered fantastically by Mr. Goldblum: ‘But John, when Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.’ Classic.)
But a terrible, more-treble-than-a-hacked-Yngwie-Malmsteen-face-melter-through-a-stock-strat-bridge-pickup-into-a-non-British-made-AC15-with-three-year-old-unmarked-made-in-China-tubes sound, is not what this post is about. This post is about that fact that right before I went into the ‘what ended up being the epitomy of anti-minimalism’ swell during practice, I thought to myself, ‘You know, I should just be quiet right now, so that the vocalists can get their harmonies down; and then I’ll add it in during service.’ Yes. Which of course means that I probably would not have noticed the position of the expression pedal or its plugged-in status, until the rest of the congregation also noticed. For some reason, I decided to try it in practice first. That……is what we call grace. Undeserved, supernatural favor. There is absolutely no other way to describe it. God smiled on me yesterday. I mean, this blog has somehow become my ‘honesty’ outlet for every mistake I make. Not sure why. So that I can get my confession out of the way here, without any real personal responsibility, thereby alleviating my guilt so that I can then continue to act like a jerk to the people I actually see face to face? Very possible. I hope not, but… But if this luscious (okay, that’s just a straight lie now) self-oscillation were to have actually happened during service, I’m not sure I could have admitted it even here. Grace…is a good thing.