Head East – Never Been Any Reason synth solo – with sheet music

Never Been Any Reason was a big hit for Head East. Although another song of theirs, Love Me Tonight, charted higher, Never Been Any Reason continues to be a staple on classic rock stations more than thirty years after its release.

The synth solo was played by Roger Boyd, a founding member who has been the band’s keyboardist and leader for forty years. An interesting aside, in 2005 he completed his doctorate degree in public policy studies and is now an associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, a town we used to go to to get drunk when I lived in Indiana and the drinking age was 19 in Illinois. Or was that Carbondale. (Actually it was Marshall but we did road trip to SIU a couple times.)

This solo was tricky. It’s a duet, or more likely, a couple of takes that were mixed together. I just did one of them. The solo sounds simple, and mostly it is, but it’s pretty quiet in the mix at points so it’s hard to dig the notes out even using EQ and panning to try to help isolate the notes. So this is more of a guess in places than usual.

I should also say that I’m considering putting the project on hiatus. There is a ton of stuff to work on, and this has started to interfere. Also it’s getting harder to find iconic solos to do.

But for now, here’s Roger Boyd mostly in the left channel, me mostly in the right, the killer solo from Head East’s Never Been Any Reason…

[Updated May 2012 – here’s a PDF of a score of the solo.]

(Purchase the song on iTunes, Amazon.)


~ by killersolos on April 14, 2010.

15 Responses to “Head East – Never Been Any Reason synth solo – with sheet music”

  1. This is great!! And don’t worry, I won’t tell Your Mom you used to get drunk!!

  2. Awesome site, I stumbled across it while trying to figure out the intro to Never Been Any Reason, never mind the solo parts. If and when I make it to this part of the song I will at least have a reference.

  3. Thanks so much! I am considering working out the guitar solo from Get Off On The Pain by Gary Allan.

    Anyway I made a Youtube video of my transcription of the Green Eyed Lady solo. It’s available here.

  4. This is awesome. I have one question – there is a long sustained note that is altered over 16 beats in the first synth feature (after intro). How is that accomplished?

    • Sure. Analog synthesizers, or a digital representation of them, use subtractive synthesis, which is to say a signal that is rich in harmonics (which sounds “bright”) has its brightness reduced to other “warm” tones using a filter. The filter section includes controls typically labelled something like Cut or Cutoff Frequency, and Resonance. (There are several good references, wikipedia, Apple, and others, if you Google for these terms.)

      As you dial Cut down, the brightness of the tone will diminish. The Resonance control also affects the timber or tone of the sound. My guess, as I’m not sitting in front of a synth right now, is that Boyd manually slowly turned the Cutoff Frequency knob down and then back up during the measures you’re referring to.

      You could also potentially set up an ADSR envelope to control the filter, allowing the note to simply be played and held and let the envelope control the filter, but it will probably be tougher to get right than turning the knob in realtime.

      If you’re using a software synthesizer that doesn’t have a knob then you might assign one of the control knobs on your MIDI/USB keyboard to control that value using your digital audio workstation software or whatnot.

      I suspect the original keyboard used may have been a Univox Mini-Korg 2, which has two sliders labeled Traveler that did neat stuff with filter and phase. For an instrument that couldn’t save patches it was an easy synth to quickly get nice sounds out of (and heavily used on the first Cars album.)

      It sounds like there’s also some phase shift going on in there, although that could simply be an artifact of the filter circuit itself on the old analog synth. If I wanted more than I was hearing from managing the cutoff frequency, using Logic, I would add a phase shifter effect as an insert in the synth’s mixer channel and map its control to be driven by the same MIDI control I had mapped to Cutoff Frequency. You’d have to jack with the settings to balance the intensity of the effects… I’d look to the dry/wet balance and depth in the phase shifter settings.

      • Could you please provide more information?

        Joking – wow, this is really helpful. I had some sense of what it was needed, and was guessing phase shift but you’ve provided a lot to think about. My challenge is finding the right settings in Mainstage. I’ve found a cool mini Moog sound, and it is a sawtooth wave, but my research tells me that I need to “tune two oscillators an octave apart”. Yeah, still figuring that out. Anyway. thanks for the great info. If you know Mainstage at all and could help with the oscillator thing or the cut / phase shift etc. thing, let me know. Great site, man.

      • I played around with a soft synth and I could hear phase shifting just from messing with the cutoff frequency. If you get a nice sound dialed in that is buzzy like the original, the cutoff frequency will attenuate the high end and, I think, produce acceptable phase shifting.

        It’s not hard in Logic or Mainstage to control any parameter of any plugin from a physical knob or using automation. I haven’t done it for a while so it’s not fresh but on my Frankenstein thing I recorded knob and used it to control a virtual wah pedal and it totally worked.

  5. You should be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites on the web.
    I’m going to highly recommend this blog!

  6. Would like to learn this synth lead, can anybody help me out? Please and Thank You.

  7. Having trouble getting that perfect edgy sound for Never Been Any Reason. Seems like the sawtooth waves give it a more chorused sound. Any help on the waveform, cutoff and resonance settings for the 2 oscillators

    • In MainStage I used a synth called Classic Pulse Lead. Can’t remember if or how I tweaked it, you could probably get into the settings. Wasn’t too bad. Fwd to 4:30 to hear a sample.

  8. Thanks. Pulse might work with some tweaks to get the real buzzy edgy sound. Thanks

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