Spiraling Prism (Herbie Hancock)

This video, via film composer Jon Opstad (Black Mirror, The Feed, Rainbow Six Siege), captures his take on Herbie Hancock‘s Spiraling Prism.

The arrangement features a gorgeous collection of vintage gear, inspired by Hancock’s late 70’s rig. It’s described as “a celebration of Herbie Hancock’s 1970s music, and the instruments on which it was performed.”

Here’s what Opstad has to say about it:

“Spiraling Prism” was a masterpiece of analogue synthesizer orchestration by the legendary Herbie Hancock, originally from his 1980 album “Mr Hands”. Here we recreate the track using entirely the same models of vintage synthesizer that Herbie Hancock used on the original recording, with no digital synthesizers, samples or software instruments.

Featuring the track’s original bassist, electric bass legend Byron Miller (Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Sonny Rollins, Luther Vandross, Beyonce).

Taking the place of the track’s original drummer, the late drum legend Ndugu, is the great British drummer Mark Mondesir (John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Courtney Pine, Kevin Eubanks).

The Fender Rhodes electric piano is performed by Tom O’Grady (Resolution 88, The Blackbyrds, Incognito, Myles Sanko).

The project was conceived and produced by Jon Opstad (film & TV composer – Black Mirror, The Feed, Rainbow Six Siege), who programmed and performed the analogue synthesizers.

The back cover of Herbie Hancock’s 1978 album Sunlight showed an iconic photograph of his analogue synthesizer setup from this period. The original version of “Spiraling Prism” from Mr Hands was recorded during the Sunlight sessions. Here we have recreated that original synthesizer setup, using instruments such as the Mini Moog, ARP 2600, Oberheim Polyphonic and Prophet 5 that were key elements of Herbie Hancock’s music in the 1970s.”

8 thoughts on “Spiraling Prism (Herbie Hancock)

  1. OMG … one of my all time favourite tracks. Brilliantly recreated and performed. Well done to all those involved. Inspiring in every way.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you! For recreating such a classic track which as you describe is a “ masterpiece of analogue synthesiser orchestration”. Back in the day, I used to pore over every word the sleeve notes of albums and Herbie’s albums were always so informative as well as innovative. I had no idea Spiralling Prism was recorded as part of the 1977 Sunlight session. Well done for getting original bassist Byron Miller to reproduce his part. You should send this to Herbie for him to critique. Please can you make the hi fidelity recording available. Well done!

  3. Jon, that was golden, especially getting Byron Miller onboard. I’ve seen Herbie live and I think you got his fluidity in the piece just right. Added points for playing the Oberheim 4-Voice. I like the idea of the new GForce OB-E 8-voice, but that feels too big. Four is plenty of work, but you can at least tweak on the fly with a LITTLE bit of sanity.

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