“I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WRITING AS
a means to find what effects work best for
you,” says jazz-rock vanguard Oz Noy.
“When you write music in your own
voice—only you know what sounds will
fit. Players look at all the effects on my
pedalboard and ask, ‘How did you get
there?’ The answer is through composition
“Dry sounds are fine for groove-oriented
stuff, but I prefer a wet signal for
melodic material. Chords sound bigger,
and the additional sustain can add meaning.
I’ll often use echo or tremolo to add
depth and vibe to a slow song. That vibe
can lead you where you want to go.
‘Underwater Romance’ from my latest CD,
Schizophrenic [Magnatude], is a good example.
I was checking my pedals. I had a long
delay, and a light tremolo. The sound led
me to the open-sounding chord melody
that begins the song.
“Another effect-oriented inspiration on
that song is less obvious, but it was equally
important. I had been meaning to record
a ballad with a slow, ethereal loop in the
background. I played a part through an
Xotic RoboTalk into the looper on a Line
6 M13 Stompbox Modeler, and then I halftimed
it, which lowers the part by an
octave. You can hear it adding texture
when the band comes in about a minute
into the song. I don’t think I would have
been able to write ‘Underwater Romance’
without the effects.
“When I first started writing my own
material, the ideas came from grooves and
harmony, but I wanted to fill out the sound
once I started applying them to the trio
concept. That led to using effects for
orchestration. Certain licks or rhythms
can lead to effects ideas, and I’ve come to
use specific effects in specific ways. To me,
the Leslie is a very important effect. I use
it as a color to orchestrate specific parts.
It’s like adding an organ to accentuate certain
hits. ‘Jelly Blue’ is a perfect example.
Nearly a minute into the tune’s bluesy
head, you can hear me turn the Leslie on
and off whenever the melody doubles up
with the bass line, or whenever I play a
chord. It comes and goes very quickly, but
that’s what makes it for me because it
divides the melody and the harmony.
Oz Noy’s newest
“Such orchestration requires some serious
dexterity in your footwork, and it took
me a while to develop. I don’t recommend
practicing with effects in general, however.
They can be confusing if you’re, say,
running scales. It’s more efficient to try
to get the sound from your hands. Effects
need to have a reason to be. I don’t tweak
pedals all day. That bores me. I use them
for musical purposes only. I have certain
concepts in my head, and I try to find the
best pedal for the job. It only gets a space
on my pedalboard if it works to help
deliver the songs, otherwise I won’t waste
time with it.”