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Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

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Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:01 am

A neighbour knows I do a bit of recording, he's a member of our local church and wants to record his daughters in the church hall, they've just passed their grades, and it's a sort of celebration. It's violin, piano, and one singer.
The hall is about 50X30ft, very high ceiling. I'm just wondering (panicking!) about first approaches here, I'm very much going to hope I can get away with my MKH30/40 M&S pair, and leave it at that, my preamp will be plugged into my Tascam DR100 line inputs. I'm hoping I can have a side room for monitoring. Any tips about this would be much appreciated.
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:17 am

It's a good size room, how does it sound? If it's good I'd be tempted with a single stereo array. Get the piano in a good sounding place, then move the violin and singer around to get the levels and spread nice.

But I refer you, as always, to the caveat in my signature... ;)
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:23 am

If they can balanced themselves acoustically (and they should), and if the halls sounds reasonable (which seems probable), then a stereo array would probably do the job well.

But this article might give some further inspiration/ideas:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/recording-violin-piano

I don't know the repertoire, but I'd suggest having the (grand?) piano on the left, singer in the middle, and violin on the right, arranged so they can see each other. If a grand, then you can control the loudness to an extent by how far open the lid is, but other than that it will come down to physical distance from the mics.

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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:25 am

Agreed, I’d keep it simple and use an stereo array. My probable first choice would be ORTF, maybe with Omni outriggers, but M/S would give you options to work on the stereo field in post. Can your Tascam decode M/S on the fly for monitoring?

Obviously with this approach you’re expect the ensemble to balance themselves.

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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:16 pm

My first reaction is that the acoustic could well be dreadful.

I'm something of a connoisseur of church halls and have come across some stinkers in my time - as well as a few good ones which have been fine for recording.

More modern ones have been more sympathetically designed and furnished - some even with acoustic panels - but some of the older ones are very reverberant and wouldn't be good for this type of recording. You really need to go have a look and walk around and judge the acoustics.... You might be better in the church itself.
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:25 pm

Ah - misread re church hall. Yes, you’d need to check the acoustics and an older church with more complex reflective surfaces than a large box would probably fare better.

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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:28 pm

It's a big variable, certainly, and clearly it would need to be properly assessed before committing. However, I assumed the client has heard it before and believes it acceptable -- possibly because he's heard other concerts etc held in there...

And to be fair I've recorded in several (mostly) wooden-panelled church halls which worked very well for small acoustic ensembles.

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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Ariosto » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:58 pm

Voice and particularly violin need a good amount of reverb to sound good, nothing worse than a very dry sound. Depending on the room/hall acoustics I might close mic the grand piano (with the lid up) in stereo, and have either a separate mic on violin and voice, and space the player the right distance to get the best sound. Alternatively you could have a stereo pair on the violin and singer. You will have to experiment to get the best sound and balance. (As a general rule the violinist should be 4-8 feet from the mic depending on the amount of reverb required).
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby forumuser840717 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:22 pm

Ariosto wrote:.... Depending on the room/hall acoustics I might close mic the grand piano (with the lid up) in stereo, and have either a separate mic on violin and voice, and space the player the right distance to get the best sound. ...

Where does it say that it's a grand piano?

I've not found grand pianos particularly common in church halls; several electronic 'pianos' of varying quality, lots of uprights, occasional baby/boudoir grands but very few full sized grand pianos and, with one exception, they were pretty rough.

Whatever type of piano you have (give or take the electronics), it’d almost certainly be worth getting it tuned before recording it as nothing makes for a rubbish listening experience quite like an out of tune piano. It also makes it harder for people to be accompanied by or to play in a group with. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told that a church hall/church piano won’t need tuning because they have it tuned regularly and it never goes out of tune, only to find that ‘regularly’ means annually and the only reason it “never goes out of tune” is that no-one who listens to it has a clue whether or not it’s remotely in tune!

My experience of recording in church halls is that, with few exceptions, they tend to be lots of hard surfaces and parallel walls making a nasty, overly reflective, clangy, acoustic mess of early reflections and flutter echoes with, maybe, a bit of damping in the form of window curtains or maybe a nice heavy stage curtain.

Regardless of the curtains/not, if the floor is hard it’d probably be worth taking some rugs or large bits of carpet to put under the performers/mic positions to help clean up the earliest of the floor reflections. If the hall has movable chairs, it’s often worth making sure that at least some of them are actually in the room and set out (covering maybe half-ish of the floor area?) since they break up the reflection patterns a bit compared to a big empty floor. If they have fabric upholstery they can help damp an overly reflective space but even the traditional plastic bucket seats can help break up the fluttery/slappy reflections.

Also, I didn't see from the OP whether this is actually recording everyone together as an ensemble or are they playing individually, with/without piano accompaniment?
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Aural Reject » Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:55 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:Whatever type of piano you have (give or take the electronics), it’d almost certainly be worth getting it tuned before recording it as nothing makes for a rubbish listening experience quite like an out of tune piano. It also makes it harder for people to be accompanied by or to play in a group with. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told that a church hall/church piano won’t need tuning because they have it tuned regularly and it never goes out of tune, only to find that ‘regularly’ means annually and the only reason it “never goes out of tune” is that no-one who listens to it has a clue whether or not it’s remotely in tune!

I just want to reinforce this.

I’ve even turned up to ‘tuned’ pianos that have dead keys on them...and essentially walked away (“well can’t they just miss that note out?”).
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Peevy » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:53 pm

If it’s a hall you don’t know, try to visit prior to the recording if possible. Gives you a chance to suss out the acoustics and listen to how much extraneous noise there is: traffic etc.

I’ve not come across many church halls with double glazing in my neck of the woods.
If there is noise coming in from outside then a more close miced scenario might be a better option? (Or a change of venue)

Don’t take the word of the performers about noise even if they know this particular church hall. Their idea of a quiet venue may be entirely different from yours!
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby RoadieChauffeur » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:12 am

Arpangel wrote:they've just passed their grades, and it's a sort of celebration.
When you say grades, are we talking Grade 1 or Grade 8? And and are said daughters 7 or 17?

Might not make a big difference to the kit side of recording, but certainly will to how you manage the session and their ability to balance themselves. And possibly to play in tune...
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:33 am

Thanks for all your replies. I can shed a bit more more light now.
I know the church/hall, it's one of those modern ones, the hall is octagonal, wood floor, with quite a dead sound, not too dead, but not overly reverberant, it could be good from what I remember. The piano is going to be either an upright, depending on condition, or horrors, an electronic one with a speaker :(
The violin has just done grade 5, don't know anything about the others. Now....the bombshell is that the pianist may be singing which I think may stop my idea of a single stereo array, as I would have to make sure the voice wasn't to soft compared to the piano and violin. The music is a mixture of folk songs and classical duets.
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:40 am

If it's a decent electronic piano from Roland or Yamaha you may be OK. And it could be a help to the recording. Take a direct feed to a separate track and then work on it to get it to sit with the rest of the recording. Have the in-room volume as low as can be managed by the performers - ie loud enough for them to hear but no louder.

Of course that throws the concept of a stereo pair (or variation thereof) out of the window, but may be a better alternative than getting the internal balance that had been hoped for.

... and good news about the room...
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:58 am

Mike Stranks wrote:If it's a decent electronic piano from Roland or Yamaha you may be OK. And it could be a help to the recording. Take a direct feed to a separate track and then work on it to get it to sit with the rest of the recording. Have the in-room volume as low as can be managed by the performers - ie loud enough for them to hear but no louder.

Of course that throws the concept of a stereo pair (or variation thereof) out of the window, but may be a better alternative than getting the internal balance that had been hoped for.

... and good news about the room...

The pianist singing has really put a spanner in the works, along with another spanner, that damn electronic piano. Now I've got to have a monitoring room, line input, mixer etc.
I'm doing this as a favour, I don't want to get into that all too familiar situation of taking abuse from people if it all goes wrong. That old saying, never mix friends and recording!

:)
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:16 am

It’s been covered - you’re now more than likely looking at close miking.

One thing I’ve learnt about recording student violinists is that they often struggle with tone. To be kind, use as neutral a mic as possible, ribbon if you have it, on the violin.

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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:26 am

Agreed... sounds like close multi-miking is your best bet now. Shame. :-(
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:03 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Agreed... sounds like close multi-miking is your best bet now. Shame. :-(

Yes, I don't know, but I hate multi-milking, I suppose that when a stereo pair works it sounds so good, very much like a live performance, natural. My old friend Mike Skeet used to crack me up, he'd say if you can't balance yourselves go away and come back when you can, he'd move people around, "stand there and don't move"! he'd also say about this session, call me back when you've got a proper piano.
I'm up for this though, however it turns out, it'll be a good opportunity to offer my services for nothing, I just want to get as much experience as possible at this stage, as I'd like to take it a bit further, recording local choirs etc, and trying to do more microphone based recording if possible.
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:38 am

The electric piano does at least give you the chance to separate the vocal from the piano (and to balance the levels) by using a good PA or monitor speaker placed a little distance from the piano. Say piano/vocal dead centre, Violin 6' to the left, piano speaker 6' to the right. Then you can try the stereo array, I would close mic/DI as well but it's only two extra mics and a single DI.
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Re: Job recording classical demo, violin piano and voice.

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:51 am

Sam Spoons wrote:The electric piano does at least give you the chance to separate the vocal from the piano (and to balance the levels) by using a good PA or monitor speaker placed a little distance from the piano. Say piano/vocal dead centre, Violin 6' to the left, piano speaker 6' to the right. Then you can try the stereo array, I would close mic/DI as well but it's only two extra mics and a single DI.

Thanks Sam, yes I'm forgetting the golden rule, always have more than one system running, not only as a back up, but as an alternative approach.
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