Pedals We Love: EHX's Intelligent Harmony Machine

Sounding in Perfect Harmony with Electro-Harmonix

Iain Smith · 01/11/22

This past year brought us some amazing accomplishments for pitch-altering pedals, as you could probably tell from our previous Raster 2 pedal love and Polyamorator article. Whether it be to create beautiful arpeggiations or fantastical shimmer effects, pitch shifting and harmonizing is a useful tool for creating constant structure, heavy power chords, or even more experimental harmonic relations that land outside the parameters of traditional European-influenced harmony. Pitch shifting also allows for the extension of instrument ranges to achieve lower and higher ranges than possible due to physical limitations.

However, Electro-Harmonix, a prominent pedal maker with vast amounts of experience in pitch shifting and tracking, produced a complex yet compact effect for creating diatonically related pitch shifted signals for perfect performance in any major or minor scale. Offering both brilliant in-key harmonization as well as more traditional polyphonic pitch shifting, the Intelligent Harmony Machine is truly an advancement in harmonizing your sounds for recording and performing. With over twenty-eight different ways to produce fully pitch shifted signals, any chromatic intervals, or even full on triads and sevenths chords, IHM is powerful and ready to add vertical height to your instrument.

… Something New, Something Borrowed …

In its natural state, IHM is in Intelligent mode in which it produces a harmonically related interval(s) that can be mixed with the original signal. Independent control over volume and mix allow you to perfectly balance your effect while the extra Dry output offers separate DI or processing opportunities. In Intelligent mode, you can select from one of eleven immediate intervals as well as six additional hidden interval combos that can replace options 9 through 11. Select from thirds, fourths, and sixths in either direction, a fifth or seventh up, and even traditional triads, seventh chords, and inverted triads in any major or minor key of your choosing. When your instrument is tuned to A440, the sonic result is perfectly in-tune stacked signals that produce a compelling timbre anywhere in your signal chain.

IHM's secondary mode, Poly Override, produces an effect similar to the the Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork in which any polyphonic information is pitch shifted by an interval but there is no relation to a key center. The interval options are different in this mode, with the introduction of raised and lowered seconds, octaves, and even a doubling effect—something great to utilize for stereo when using the dry and affected output! Even though there is no use of the key center control in this mode, you can actually utilize the minor/major switch on both seconds and thirds. Another secondary function is the Moment button: not only does it apply a momentary footswitch from the normal latched setting, but also holding Moment will access a slide parameter via the Volume control, offering a slide into the interval from its original position, great for gliding bends and portamento effects.

The versatility of having two different options for harmonizing and pitch shifting grants you the opportunity to explore and execute a multitude of performance styles as well as provide solo artists new and various ways to add harmonic depth to their sound. Blending the affected signal in a minimal amount and putting this before any modulation or spatial effect can make for interesting timbre, almost acting as a pseudo-additive synthesis tool. Both Brian's ballad-esque and rocking bass guitar examples are not only tasteful but also indicative of IHM's brilliant flexibility in complementing multiple playing styles, genres and instrument ranges. Electro-Harmonix's Intelligent Harmony Machine is a spectacular device that adds a distinctive take on pitch-shifting and harmonizing.