Sign in to follow this  
Daytona74

Unpicking "Golden Triangle"

Recommended Posts

Daytona74

Hello,

does anybody else think that "Golden Triangle" is one of Jan Hammer's true masterpieces from "Vice"?

This song goes beyond even Jan Hammer's signature 1980s sound, in that it incorporates instruments that were kind of a long shot in the 1980s.

For example, it appears that the main melody is driven by a (sampled) Chinese guzheng:

 

Then we've got the percussion, especially in the mid-section, which sounds a lot like sampled Burmese circle drums:

 

And finally, the flute section sounds like a Burmese nose flute:

 

I think Jan Hammer really went above the call of duty on "Golden Triangle", and I think it's one of the finest examples of world music of the mid-80s.

And the great thing is that this track still, after 30 years, doesn't sound antiquated. I could imagine this still today as underlying music for a Cathay Pacific commercial or for a "Visit Asia" TV commercial of some sort, and you'd probably never guess that it's 30 years old.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vicegirl85

I can see where you're coming from, and wish I had the musical knowledge to have discovered the pieces you found!

I tried playing all of them at once; pretty cool.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daytona74
vor 16 Minuten schrieb vicegirl85:

I can see where you're coming from, and wish I had the musical knowledge to have discovered the pieces you found!

I saw something on TV a while ago where somebody was playing a guzheng, and they were playing a piece that really made that guzheng sound like "Golden Triangle", so that sparked my curiosity, and I simply went on youtube and did a bit of research...

Edited by Daytona74

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dadrian

Idk much about Japanese instruments, but that plucked sound on the DX7 synth is called "KOTO". Same thing?

...and yes, incredible piece of music. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Crockettt

Yes, Jan used "Koto" patch from DX7.

Guzheng is a Chinese traditional plucked musical string instrument and Koto is Japanese.Guzheng has more strings (21-27), more bright sound (like harp) and strings are different lenghts. Koto has 13 strings sounds more clicky, has more earthy tone, and strings same lenght.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daytona74

oh ok ... then maybe I was a little quick to assume that Jan Hammer actually sampled a guzheng for this track.

But still, I think this is one of his greatest tracks. It kind of stands out against his other, equally great work. He went "sideways" into other genres like reggae with "Cool Runnings" and "Boat Party" as well, but "Golden Triangle" is my favorite of his tracks that went slightly outside his usual sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dadrian

I missed the "sampled" part of your original post. Forgive me. I didn't mean to seem like I was correcting you. I was only trying to learn something about the instrument names. Thanks for this really cool post.!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daytona74
vor 1 Stunde schrieb Dadrian:

I missed the "sampled" part of your original post. Forgive me. I didn't mean to seem like I was correcting you.

Oh no, no problem at all...

I confess that my knowledge of 80s synthesizer voices and sound patches is much more limited than I'd like it to be. I can probably tell a Fairlight from a Synclavier listening to it, and I know that the ARR1 patch on the Fairlight is what gave Jan Hammer and half of 80s synth music those breathy harmonies... but that's about where it ends.

80s synthesizers still fascinate me. Maybe one of these days I'll pick up an old DX7 off eBay. It's been decades since I had lessons, but it'd be kind of cool to own and be able to play on an instrument that defined the 80s like only a handful of others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dadrian

Gotcha. I'll confess anything outside Jan Hammer sounds are not my specialty either--I'm a bass player. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Den Taylor

Yes, that main sound is a Koto patch. The one in the DX7 is definitely a contender but I believe Jan revealed in the Mag interview that it's the Koto from the Fairlight. And being familiar with the sound library of that synthesizer I believe the Fairlight is what he used for most of the other parts in Golden Triangle. So I'm sorry to burst the bubble a little but apparently Hammer used mostly factory patch samples for this song. But it's still ingenious to craft something like this out of them! And of course the credit goes to the Fairlight people too who recorded these instruments. I believe in the same Interview Jan mentions that these instruments are mostly Gamelan from Indonesia.
So yeah, with South East Asia you got at least the region right, Daytona. ;-)

Edited by Den Taylor
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Den Taylor

After comparing the two Koto sounds I can now defintiley say that Jan used the Fairlight patch for Golden Triangle. As I said before most sounds come from the Fairlight except that dark Moog sound in the background that Jan used so many times in other cues. There are two sounds in the song that I cannot identify though, both some type of Gamelan I think. I assume(d) that there were from the Fairlight too but I cannot find them in the library....and so far I haven't been able to find them in the DX7 either.

The first is that triangle or high pitched timpani like sound that can be found in that long intro from the Original episode version.
You can hear it at 0:02, 0:08,0:14, 0:17 etc. He changes the pitch too.
 


I love this!
(The main sound here btw should be mallets - most likely one of the Fairlight Marimba patches. Or the Kalimba. In the background is low Conga (Fairlight or Linndrum, but I think its Fairlight))

The other one is that metallic like cymbal sound in the actual song after the drums have cut off. It starts to fade in at 4:21. That is such an amazing sound!
It bugs me that I couldn't track it down yet....Dadrian?
Of course it's possible that these are two sounds he had sampled himself. But I hope not. *grin* (would love to do a Golden Triangle cover one day - which would be no easy task)

Btw....if you check out that whole sequence from 4:00 on (in the CD version which is much longer and has flute!) and listen closely it is just so brilliant how Jan is using so many different layers, with stereo panning, fade ins and fade outs and blends them all together! I only discovered a couple of these sounds when I put on my headphones (I just got me a decent pair).:radio: As a matter of fact I'm discovering some layers in his other tunes too that I havent noticed before! Even the Miami Vice theme. Whaaaa? Jan never ceases to amaze me... O.o

So please folks - listen to his stuff with some head- or earphones if you haven't already (preferably higher Quality). Especially Golden Triangle! (But use the CD Version instead of this youtube-version, you will hear the different layers much clearer)

And forgive me for saying this, but  in a way its a shame that such a brilliant piece was "only" used for a TV series albeit Miami Vice. It means that not many get to appreciate this song and hear its full potential as they really should, even within the Miami Vice viewership (since not everyone bothers to buy the Hammer Collection and is happy to just watch the show which may or may not include the Golden Triangle episode).

Edited by Den Taylor
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dadrian
3 hours ago, Den Taylor said:

After comparing the two Koto sounds I can now defintiley say that Jan used the Fairlight patch for Golden Triangle.

I was thinking I read it was from the DX7 in my Keyboard Player '85 issue. I dug it out a minute ago. I remember it being on the page where the vinyl insert is located with all the info on how he made those cues. Den, you are correct! Good ear. There is a great "KOTO" patch on the DX7, and I just got mixed up after all these years. Thanks for the reminder!

Check out this link--particularly the bottom right corner:

http://jan-hammer.net/images/scanned/img016.jpg

Some of the other questions you have may be answered on that page, too. 

Den, I believe have that Fairlight Koto sample if you need it. 

Edited by Dadrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Den Taylor
Zitat

I was thinking I read it was from the DX7 in my Keyboard Player '85 issue. I dug it out a minute ago. I remember it being on the page where the vinyl insert is located with all the info on how he made those cues. Den, you are correct! Good ear. There is a great "KOTO" patch on the DX7, and I just got mixed up after all these years. Thanks for the reminder!

Well, where he did use the DX7 Koto is in Castillo's Theme. :-)

I've noticed something else with the Koto in Golden Triangle. When he uses it at the beginning to set up the actual song - I think this is only in the CD version - he added a layer of distorted guitar beneath it. Which then accompanies the song as kind of rhythm guitar. Check it out! It is hard to hear in the youtube or vinyl version - or it is jut not there and was only added for the CD version.
How many changes did Jan actually make to the themes for the CD release? And did he make them only for that release?
 

Zitat

 

Check out this link--particularly the bottom right corner:

http://jan-hammer.net/images/scanned/img016.jpg

Some of the other questions you have may be answered on that page, too. 

 


Thanks! I'M familiar with that interview but only read it once so far. So yep, sure enough he mentions that he put the Koto through the Rockman! Haha, ok my bad. So we're hearing the same instrument but with the Rockman it sounds like two different instruments - Koto plus guitar....it kinda sounds to me like he did add some actual rhtyhm guitar though. (?)
And he says he used 24 tracks (which I meant with layers), that's crazy and sounds about right. xD
Also he says the gamelan and trash can (!) sounds were found by Will Alexander from Fairlight. That leaves the question - did he give these samples only to Jan or are they part of the official library? Like I said, I couldn't find them yet.....but maybe Jan did some crazy pitching or distortion with these samples which makes it harder to discern.

For now I'm surfing the net for javanese Gamelan samples and am also checking out youtube videos. Only a question of time I guess. *grin* (There are some great sounds to be found anyway)
 

Zitat

Den, I believe have that Fairlight Koto sample if you need it. 

Thanks but as I mentioned before I have the whole Fairlight library and also from the DX7 - that's how I was able to compare the two Koto sounds. ;-)

 

Edited by Den Taylor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dadrian

The magazine interview I believe states that distortion sound is just the Fairlight Koto being ran thru the Rockman distortion (probably to an FX bus so he could combine and control the dry and wet sounds). He did this with many other sounds throughout his tenure on the Rockman also. 

Edit: okay I read the rest of your post haha

Edited by Dadrian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Den Taylor

Ok, I think I figured it out...
The two sounds are indeed from the Fairlight II, I'm pretty sure I found them. However, apparently he tweaked them a little and that's why I couldn't recognize them right away. The first is because of the conga beneath it, it appears to be one of the bowl presets. And the cymbal like sound is a preset called bells trash (or something similar to that). That Jan mentioned trash cans in the interview was a major clue here, hehe! However, he put a second sound layer on it which is a Kalimba or Marimba. So again I couldn't recognize it first since I thought it was only one sound. And it seems like he did some equalizing on both the bowl and bell sound and god knows what else...Jan is one sneaky bastard! lol 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this