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Session Notes: Piano + Drums | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself By Neil Rogers
Published March 2020

Take a listen to these audio examples created when recording a piano and drum kit in a modest live room, at the same time.

These audio files accompany my Session Notes: Piano + Drums Together workshop in SOS March 2020 about a live recording session with an artist called Kate Lucid. In the article, I explain how I went about recording the piano and drums together in the same room, including how I worked with the drummer to fine-tune the kit for the session, and then managed to control the ‘bleed’ between the instruments.

Kate was kind enough to allow me to share some audio examples from these sessions, and I think it's interesting when listening to some of the parts in isolation to hear the relative levels of the different instruments in the room.


A short example of the finished mix of the song 'Now That You're Gone', by Kate Derkach.


These are the semi-mixed drums in isolation. I did very little in the mix to drums apart from gating the close mics and adding a little compression to the kit as a whole. There’s very little piano present in the drum overhead mics, and what is there actually helps ‘glue’ things together in the mix.


I explained in the article how I put two different mics up in the live room to act as both room mics and communication mics for the musicians. I used an SM58 by the drummer’s head, and an Earthworks omnidirectional mic near the guitarists. In the mix, I ended up using both mics — this is how they sounded together in the final mix. They played quite a big part in the final drum sound, in fact, and again the sound of the piano in these mics was no problem at all.


I talked in the article about how the upright piano was captured with a combination of inexpensive microphones. I have a pair of Realistic PZM mics taped on the inside of the lower panel of my piano and this is how they sounded isolation. You can hear that the mics were overloading on not only the louder sections of the piano but also hits of the kick drum — an issue we were unable to overcome, but in the end it wasn’t as much of a problem in the mix as was the fact there's plenty of bleed from the drums.


This is an example of how the SM58 mics sounded when positioned low down, pointing towards the back of the piano, with a duvet providing a little isolation from the drums. These provided around 70 percent of the final piano sound. Notice how the top-end of the drum spill is lower than in the room mics. If you’re auditioning these files in a DAW, try blending these mics with the PZMs; I think they work well together.


As a point of reference, I thought it would be nice to include a little example of how the Steinway grand piano sounded that we recorded in another session for use on other tracks in this album.