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Interesting piano gig

Discussion in 'Piano' started by John Stafford, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi all
    Next year, I have a big gig coming up. There are some details that I should keep to myself for the moment, but I can say it has a number of interesting problems.

    At this gig there will be many pianists performing, and I intend to put an AKG C34 in one position, with a C426 in a different position, so I can choose whichever is better after I have finished recording. I'm still trying to decide on the pair of omnis I want to use as well (I'm considering a pair of Hebdens at the moment).
    I might try to rent Sennheiser MKH800s as well.

    So far so good, but there is a potential headache. There will be at least three pianos for the pianist to choose from (probably Yamaha, Steinway and Kawai and possibly a Petrof as well). Each pianist will have their piano wheeled into position just before they walk on stage, and I won't be able to adjust the mics! As far as I know, there will be at least two piano techs, so I might be able to get them to put marks on the stage to position each piano relative to the mics, although this might not be allowed.

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that some pianists will have the lid removed.

    Sounds like it will be fun! At least I will have several days to get to know each piano before I have to record. I can also be present as each performer tries out the pianos, so I can probably work out something then.

    BTW The recording sessions will be thirteen hours long if everything runs according to schedule!

  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Not the Dublin International Piano Competition by any chance is it?
  3. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Since you will have time with the pianos beforehand, I would make sure that a plan is implemented where everything resides on a set of tape spike marks on stage.

    First mark where the piano must reside- regardless of brand.

    Second, mark each microphone's position for each brand and lid position. So, have your petrof marks- with and without lid. With another color, have your Yamaha marks, etc...

    Means that when it is time to rock and roll, you just move the mics to their marks as they move the piano to its marks.

  4. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Won't you have to fly the main pair for such a gig. I can't imagine tolerance of moving mic stands around.
  5. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thanks Ben and David.
    I can't mention the gig by name for another while, but there are not many big piano events in Dublin :wink:

    I won't get a chance to move stands around except during breaks. The omnis will have to be left in one position, but if the techs are willing, I can try to get them to place each piano in exactly the same position by using marks.

    If I get stands with wheels on them, for the stereo mics, I might be able to make very quick adjustments. Otherwise, the first pianist recorded after each break will sound good, and for all the others, it might be a matter of luck.

    Still, I have several months to prepare, and hopefully something can be worked out.

    I must say I'm really looking forward to this gig!

  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Lots of things to consider

    1. Is this a UNION hall and if so will you be able to move the microphones yourself or have to have some union stage hand person do it? Too many bad memories of things going wrong when some important chores are left to people who may not be the most skilled in carrying them out or may not have your best interest at heart.

    2. I think if this is a big deal concert the audience may not like a lot of microphones between them and the performer (lots of people like to watch the pianist hands) so it maybe better to fly the microphones if you can.

    3. Having just done a two day piano recording (days separated by two down days) with a piano in a spiked position with a microphone setup in a spiked position I think it maybe a good idea to do what others have suggested and mark the stage with spike tape for each of the pianos and each of microphone stands and make sure to color code the strike tape and the microphone stands and the piano especially if the answer to question one is yes.

    4. If this event is going to be televised you should get with the TV production crew early in the planning process as they may have very different needs for good clear shot angles than you do for good sound and they may be the ones that decide where to place your microphones and stands (they are probably getting paid 10 to 20 times what you are and everyone seems to let them be in control by default) You DON'T want to find this out the week of the concert or worse yet the day of the concert. - Been there done that!

    5. If this is the big deal concert you should make sure you have backups for most everything you are using including microphones and recording equipment. Even if you have to borrow or rent the additional equipment there is nothing that will replace a dropped microphone or a console power supply except another microphone or console.

    In my professional life I have seen things that could not go wrong - go wrong and five minutes before the concert start time is not a time to start scrambling for equipment.

    When we go on location we carry enough equipment to get the job done and backups for most things. We very seldom, if ever, have technical problems but when the happen we are prepared for them and deal quickly with them. I try and minimize any reliance on people who are not part of our company and have been burned too many times by union stage crews and non professional people who are there to help but in the end cost us time and money and cause more problems than they solve.

    This sounds like a GREAT gig for you to do and if you do it properly could be the start of a very long very profitable career but if you have technical problems or have problems with the recording (even if they are beyond your control) then it could be the last thing you do. People have long memories for GREAT recordings but even longer memories for recording with problems.

    Best of luck!
  7. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Hi Tom
    I appreciate your post -I think you've covered every possible eventuality!

    I think I'm pretty much free to do anything I want once it in no way interferes with the running of the event. I will probably rent something that I can use instead of my computer, although I've worked out a configuration that has never failed. Still, there are no guarantees. I will probably use two computers in any case.

    I don't think the union hall thing happens over here. Maybe things are different if a hall has its own recording staff, but it never occurred to me to check, so thanks for the idea.

    BTW I followed the thread where you were recording a pianist with three 4050s in fig-of-8. I think that was a very interesting approach, and it's good to hear that it worked for you. If only you could find somewhere to host your recordings :cry:

  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Looking at my post it seems negative, it was not meant that way. I have just run into too many problems like the time where the stage crew (non paid students) plugged my whole recording rig into a dimming circuit and as the house lights went down so did my rig. Or the time that I was bared from setting up until after the rehearsal by an over zealous stage hand so I basically had 30 minutes (with the audience coming into the concert hall) between the end of the rehearsal and the beginning the of concert to set up my whole rig, or the time that a stage hand trying to get home early by going out a locked door pulled out the ISDN line I was using for a remote broadcast 5 minutes from the end of the opera. My list is endless but I wish YOU nothing but GOOD LUCK!

    Let us know how it turns out.
  9. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    On the contrary, I think any potential problem brought to my attention is a problem I can avoid. I once turned up with my computer with no mains adapter and a few minutes battery time left. As it happened, I was able to ring my brother who fetched one for me. I don't think I'll be making that mistake again!

    Thanks again :cool:

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