Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Orchestra As Sardines

I spent the first weekend of 2011 recording a small orchestra in a small hall. Or rather, HALLWAY. 8^)#

The performance space measured about ten feet wide by fifteen feet high by thirty feet long. The performers numbered eleven: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, french horn, violin, viola, cello, contrabass, drums/percussion, piano. Plus the composer/conducter Mike Przygoda, and the recordist, yours truly.

There were a few six by eight foot practice rooms attached to the main area, and a baby grand piano in an alcove by the entrance.

With a bit of discussion about the (generally poor) room acoustics, and musician-to-conducter sight lines, and what multiple microphones would be likely to introduce in the way of phase cancellation, we decided on the following:

Still shoot for a stereo recording - mono would solve the phase problems, but finding a sweet spot for it would take too long, and anyway, stereo is almost always better...

Percussion items and drumset in a practice room with a single overhead mic (CAD M179 set to cardioid pattern). Piano lid on half-stick with a few winter coats placed over the opening, mic'ed inside with two AT4040's. Maestro Przygoda in the center of the room, conducting directly under the ten-foot tall mic stand (almost against the wall, holding two more CAD M179's, cardioid pattern, two or three feet apart, angled slightly outward). The rest of the musicians spread out across the room in a big arc, all facing the conducter, strings toward the left, woodwinds toward the right.

Recordist in the other practice room.

So here is a quick mix of one of the twenty-four pieces we recorded that weekend.

This is the primary stereo pair with some added reverb, and the unprocessed percussion track added in to the center. No stereo piano tracks added, as there is no piano in this piece.

After listening, I think I could add just a bit more volume on the percussion...what do you think?

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