Steal This Sound, Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock”
By Mitchell Sigman
Wed, 1 Jun 2011

0611_screenshotVox combo organs are unquestionably the king of cheesy ’60s organs, but Farfisa’s colorful axes are a close second. Perhaps Vox won favor with its sleeker lines and sexy integral Z-shaped stand, but Farfisas can be heard on numerous classics including Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days,” and Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” Farfisa made a brief comeback in late ’70s new wave with Blondie, the B-52s, and New York avant-punk duo Suicide dusting off the cobwebs and rocking out. This month we’ll recreate the classic weedy tone of “Crocodile Rock” using Native Instruments Massive.

Step 1. Select the VA-PWM wave and dial the Pulse Width setting to about two o’ clock for a medium width pulse wave on oscillators 1 and 2. Going too extreme in either direction gives it away as a synth, but there’s room in the middle to explore different tones.

Step 2. Set oscillator 1’s pitch at zero, and oscillator 2’s pitch at 19.00—this is an octave and a fifth up. Now turn oscillator 1’s Amp control all the way up, and oscillator 2’s to about 50 percent. With this mix, the fifth generated by oscillator 2 becomes more of a tone color than an obvious interval.

Step 3. Select “Lowpass 4” in the Filter 1 menu, and set the cutoff around two o’clock and resonance around nine o’ clock. Careful— go too bright and it’ll sound artificial.

Step 4. Since envelope 4 is the default for volume, click on “4Env”, then set the attack at zero and the level all the way up; set the decay controls the same. S-Loop and Morph aren’t used, but set Release very low.

Step 5. No ’60s organ is complete without woozy vibrato, right? Drag and drop “5LFO” to the small modulation destination box below the pitch display in oscillator 1, and repeat for oscillator 2—a green “5” should appear. Click in the number box to its right and set the mod amount for both oscillators to 0.20. Make sure the Mono button is pressed; this will assure that only one LFO is affecting vibrato for all voices, just like on a real organ.

Step 6. For additional realism, I inserted a little warm-sounding overdrive courtesy of Logic’s Dist II plug (set to “Growl”), and a low-shelf EQ set to 370Hz with –17dB of cut for a substantial low-frequency rolloff.

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06-2011 Steal This Sound: Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" by KeyboardMag
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