Oldfield Instruments

Today someone asked, 'Does anyone still play instruments?' Well, yes!

I like most of multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield’s music. I know It's not everyone’s cup of tea. Due to the return of Mike's old style of playing/recording I decided to look up Mike Oldfield’s comments on recording ‘Return To Ommadawn’. Here are a few….


“The first thing I did was rebuild the original instruments I played on Ommadawn, starting with the bodhrán which I learned to play back in the ‘70s, and then the mandolin. Then I got a wonderful hand-built guitar which features heavily, then a flamenco guitar. While Ommadawn had a recorder, I can’t play it, so instead had penny whistles in different keys. I played a Gibson SG electric guitar on the original album, and got a new one, but after trying loads of plug-ins could only get almost that same sound again by playing through a Boogie acoustic amplifier. And I played the acoustic bass guitar and a ukulele, which I love, and the African drums myself, and a Celtic harp. I find it very easy to play these things — not properly, of course, but enough…."

“I’m put off by an electronic click track so to set the tempo I got an old-fashioned wind-up metronome which I recorded on a microphone. Some sections I didn’t want a click track at all so played them free so they speed up and slow down. There’s no sequencing at all on it….”

“As for keyboards, living out in the Bahamas I couldn’t get a real Mellotron, a massive thing, nor a Solina string synthesizer, nor the organs, a Vox Continental and Farfisa Professional. Luckily people have recreated virtual reality versions of all these things as plug-ins, even the Clavioline, the main instrument on Telstar by The Tornados, one of the first singles I ever bought. And I had to have a real glockenspiel….”

“I thought there should be a few little things of the original album in there so took some vocal bits of the original Ommadawn, cut them in pieces, sound effects treated them, reversed them and edited them back together, and gradually over an afternoon a new melody appeared with a strange otherworldly sound.”

The Beatles' 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' comes to mind here. George Martin: 'I got hold of old calliope tapes, playing Stars And Stripes Forever and other Sousa marches, chopped the tapes up into small sections and had Geoff Emerick throw them up in the air, re-assembling them at random.'

I find Mike’s music needs 5 or 6 listens to really get into it and I’m hooked on Return To Ommadawn right now. I don't think it'll oust my joint-favourite, the brilliant original Ommadawn (joint with Tubular Bells II) but thank goodness Mike returned to the style of his first 3 albums!

Read all about it.