Watch the Alien Water Kiss online guitar lesson by Steve Vai from Alien Guitar Secrets: Passion & Warfare
In this video segment, Steve shares background and key insights related to Alien Water Kiss.
What was I thinking?: Back then, there was a period of time when technology was evolving in the field of guitar processing. I remember the company Even Tide, who made the first harmonizer, had contacted me as they were in the process of building a new one. They asked me about what I'd like to see as a new feature of a harmonizer, and I mentioned that it would be really great if someone invented a diatonic pitch shifter with multiple voices. All the harmonizers at the time did parallel harmony, meaning that if you play a note, it's going to come out as parallel. If you have it set to a 5th, every note comes out a perfect 5th. But in a tempered scale, a 5th harmony doesn't work out to be parallel; it needs to be diatonic, meaning that the harmony ends up being in the key. It also needed to be in multiple voices, as pitch shifters only gave you one voice. I wanted to have seven or eight voices. I also didn't like the actual pitch that came out always sounded kind of "tweezed", like it was sped up (because it was).
They liked the idea, so they went with it to create the H3000 Harmonizer. The other parameter I contributed to the device was having certain effects kick in on certain frequencies, at certain dynamics. So you could be playing and hit a particular note hard enough, and a delay might come out. So the technology inside the gear that makes this work is what's called an algorithm, just a mathematical equation that tells the device to do these certain things. So when I got the H3000, one of the first things I did was crank up the multiple voice diatonic pitch shift and put tons of weird delays on it and play it all backwards. And thus, we had "Alien Water Kiss".