Ritchie Blackmore on Electrifying Blackmore’s Night

June 14, 2011
<p><img alt="img" src="/Portals/0/gp0611_riffs_blackmore1_nr.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 677px; float: left; margin-right: 5px; margin-left: 5px;" /><strong>OVER RAINBOW, RITCHIE</strong> Blackmore formed Blackmore&rsquo;s Night in 1997 to play Renaissance-infused folk-rock with his partner, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Candice Night. Throughout the band&rsquo;s 14-year career, Blackmore has primarily concentrated on acoustic guitar and numerous other acoustic stringed instruments, including mandolin, mandola, mandocello, hurdy gurdy, and nyckelharpa&mdash;but he has never lost sight of the electric. &ldquo;I play at least two or three tracks of electric on every album we do,&rdquo; says Blackmore. &ldquo;It depends on my frame of mind whether I am going to choose acoustic or electric, and I also have to take into account what the <em>song </em>needs. We are heavily influenced by Medieval and Renaissance music, so we are always torn between making our music more organic sounding or more modern. I sometimes play acoustic and electric guitar on the same track and decide which one is more appropriate later.&rdquo;</p> <p>During his Deep Purple and Rainbow days, Blackmore played through a Marshall amp customized to crank out 280 watts, and used a &ldquo;converted tape deck&rdquo; as a preamplifier. The preamp remains, but for nearly two decades he has favored a &ldquo;small, 50-watt Engl,&rdquo; and few, if any, effects. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to play through many pedals,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I prefer a fat, natural sustained sound, which you lose if the signal goes through too many circuits. Sometimes I&rsquo;ll add in a Roland guitar synthesizer, though, to make the sound a little more beefy.&rdquo; Blackmore continues to favor Fender electrics&mdash;mostly Stratocasters&mdash; strung with various D&rsquo;Addario sets.</p> <p>Blackmore&rsquo;s passionate and highly lyrical electric playing is particularly evident on the band&rsquo;s latest album, <em>Autumn Sky</em> [Spinefarm], gracing the rocking opener &ldquo;Highland&rdquo; and four other tunes, including &ldquo;Believe In Me,&rdquo; which also features some beautiful melodic slide work. &ldquo;I like to play slide,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;In fact, sometimes I have to be careful that I don&rsquo;t play too much slide, because it&rsquo;s almost easier to do for longer notes, especially when playing ballads.&rdquo; When tracking solos with an acoustic, Blackmore works them out about 80 percent of the way, whereas his rockier electric solos tend to be more spontaneous.</p> <p>Live, Blackmore switches to electric to play four or five songs midway through the show, and then again for the encores, at which point it isn&rsquo;t unusual for Blackmore&rsquo;s Night to indulge longtime fans with the band&rsquo;s take on &ldquo;Black Night&rdquo; and &ldquo;Smoke on the Water.&rdquo; &ldquo;It takes me a few minutes to adjust from playing electric with a plectrum to playing fingerstyle again, because it is a different approach to that hand,&rdquo; explains Blackmore. &ldquo;So Candy usually has to tell a joke to buy me some time!&rdquo;</p>
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