Eddie Van Halen - Style and Influence - Volume Swells

Volume Swells

Eddie used a volume technique in the instrumental "Cathedral". He hammered notes on the fretboard with one hand while rolling the volume knob with the other. This altered the attack and decay of the notes so they mimicked the sound of keyboards. This "volume swells" sound (also known as "violining", because of the way it sounds) was originally popularized by 1970s progressive rock bands like Genesis (Steve Hackett), Focus (Jan Akkerman), Yes (Steve Howe), and Rush (Alex Lifeson) but was usually performed with a volume pedal, at a slower pace. "Cathedral" also employs an electronic delay, with the delay set at 400 ms and the delayed note set at the same amplitude as the original note. Most of the composition's notes come from hammering on the notes of a major 5th string barre chord (ascending and then descending) and replicating this pattern up and down the neck of the guitar. The end result of this technique made the composition sound as if it is being played on a church/cathedral organ.

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