Daniel Mintseris On Creative Wurly Comping

June 1, 2010

DM-pic-2_resizedThe Wurlitzer Electronic Piano is loved the world over for its vintage sound. Songs like Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and Beck’s “Where It’s At” are just three of the countless Wurly classics.

My rig of choice these days is a Wurlitzer 200A with a MIDI controller on top and my MacBook Pro on the side, loaded with Ableton Live and other goodies. I feed my Wurly into the laptop through a MOTU UltraLite interface for realtime processing, sampling, and looping.

 Daniel Mintseris is known for his work with artists like Marianne Faithfull, Peter Cincotti, Martha Wainwright, and Teddy Thompson. He and cellist Dave Eggar just released Convolutions for Cello, Piano, and Electronics, an experimental album inspired by 20th-century classical music. Visit Daniel on MySpace.





/uploadedImages/keyboardmag/articles/Key0610_Play_Wurly_Ex-01.jpgThe Wurlitzer’s sharp attack and full, barking low end are great for rhythmic, percussive playing that borrows ideas from strummed acoustic guitar, bass, and even drums. In Ex. 1, I put a spin on a classic funky figure that recalls the Hohner Clavinet as well as slapped electric bass. Notice the beefed-up bottom end and the auto-wah. Extreme articulation really makes this figure work, so “spank” the accented beats and barely touch the ghosted sixteenth-notes for that “muted string” effect. CLICK FOR AUDIO.


/uploadedImages/keyboardmag/articles/Key0610_Play_Wurly_Ex-02.jpgEx. 2 is another rhythmic pattern, with “strummy” right-hand octaves and crunchy left-hand power chords. I process the sound with Albeton’s Saturator overdrive and highpass EQ, and use compression to bring out the grit and crackle. Work on keeping your right hand steady and relaxed here. CLICK FOR AUDIO.


/uploadedImages/keyboardmag/articles/Key0610_Play_Wurly_Ex-03.jpgIn Ex. 3, I’m playing a gentle 6/8 pattern, atmospherically enhanced by the Grain Delay effect in Live, bandpass EQ, and a touch of slow Leslie speaker simulation courtesy of Native Instruments B4. Try it yourself with different keys and chord progressions, keeping consistent octaves and fifths in the right hand, and basic two-note voicings in the left. CLICK FOR AUDIO.


/uploadedImages/keyboardmag/articles/Key0610_Play_Wurly_Ex-04.jpgEx. 4 turns up the groove with a steady eighth-note “hi-hat” and “snare” in the right hand, and a syncopated bounce in the left. Remember that the Wurly is all about articulation and feel. Keep the backbeat strong, the upbeats laid back, and dig into the bass notes. CLICK FOR AUDIO.


/uploadedImages/keyboardmag/articles/Key0610_Play_Wurly_Ex-05.jpgThe dreamy, percolating sound of Ex. 5 shimmers from timed reverse and filter delays. Turn the tremolo up, roll the right-hand octaves and fifths lightly for waves of texture, and use wide left-hand intervals to create full, pulsating pads. The trick with a sound like this is to find open voicings that carry over well into the next chord. CLICK FOR AUDIO.

Keep up-to-date on the latest news
Get our Free Newsletter Here!

You Might Also Like...

No Records Found.
Show Comments

These are my comments.

Reader Poll

What best describes your dream job?

See results without voting »