Nice write up on Greg Simmons

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by TeddyBullard, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    Kudos, Greg. Traveling is a beautiful thing, and I bet is only made all the more beautiful by the music you are experiencing.

    I wish I had taken my portable setup to Iraq and Afghanistan with me. Beautiful music in those two GodForsaken places.. :-?
     
  2. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    Ah, hell, I didnt know it was old. Oh well. Good article anyhow.
     
  3. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Thanks for the kudos, Teddy. That article is about 18 months old now, I think...

    It *is* a pity that you weren't able to record that music you heard in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hopefully, you've recorded it in your mind, and hopefully it will still be there to record in days to come (providing it can survive the seemingly irresistable impact of Western hegemony).

    I'm currently relaxing in Kathmandu after a tiring and disappointing recording trek to the Hindu holy lake of Gosainkunda in the Himalayan highlands of Nepal. Every year on the August full moon there is a huge festival there, and many Nepalis make the annual pilgrimage to immerse themselves in the holy waters and reap the numerous physical and spiritual benefits...

    Among other things, all the shaman of Nepal head there to spend the night playing their music, singing and dancing. As a trek it was quite amazing, but the recordings I made are not very good; I need a different stereo microphone technique to do it justice. So I am thinking of returning next year to do it properly. In the meantime, the shaman drumming/chants and the Sherpa folk songs are on endless repeat in the record/playback unit of my mind... The clothing may have changed (the shaman wear fake Nikes and imitation Rolexs beneath their traditional garb) but, to the best of my knowledge, the songs and rituals are surviving the impact of Westernisation.
     
  4. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    I am curious about a couple of things..

    1.) I guess you funded it all as a sort of fulfillment to a dream of yours or are you doing it for some sort of ethnomusicology study(commercially?) or neither??

    2.) how did you get into that, and what is your "day job"( I assume this sort of thing?)

    Thanks for your time,Greg. I am fascinated by this. I am on the verge of starting my own business in NC doing orchestral recordings as well as documenting the Appalachian and Folk Music of the Carolina mountains...there is a lot of music nestled in the highlands and valleys up there, screaming to be heard. Kavi suggested the idea to me and it has stuck.


     
  5. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    (I am sorry Teddy, but I have just managed to write another enormously long-winded reply. You'd reckon I had nothing to do with my time...)

    Self-funded at the moment. It started out as a curiousity. I found myself with a very small and high quality recording rig, and I had always daydreamed about travelling to Tibet to record Tibetan monks. It was kind of an idle threat I'd make to [now past] girlfriends during light arguments, like: "That's it! I'm selling everything and going to Tibet to record monks!!". I'd been saying it for about 20 years...

    In 2004 life did one of its awkward little backflips and so I finally did the same. And then I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed travelling with a Nagra V and a Schoeps MS pair in a Rycote windshield, capturing whatever took my fancy. So now I work reasonably hard teaching from 9am to 9pm from early March to late November, saving enough money to spend December through to the end of February travelling and recording. I like to imagine that one day I'll make some money from these recordings. I am not sure how, yet, but when I listen back to my recordings and the compilations I make of them, an emerging 'style' is apparent and I am glad about that. Perhaps it will become something marketable one day. I have a few ideas...

    But I try to do good things with my sound equipment and skills, as well. For example, this morning I submitted the artwork for a run of 500 CDs I have recorded, mastered and entirely funded for a group of 'untouchable' caste musicians here in Nepal known as 'Gandharbas'. This is what I call a 'fishing rod', based on the old saying, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; give him a fishing rod and teach him how to use it and you feed him for life". By selling this CD to tourists for a meagre 400 rupees each (about $6 US) they'll easily be able to fund another run of 500 discs, pay their organisation's office rent for a year, buy a personal computer, put a few kids into school for a year, and so on. If they're smart with the money, that is! If they are stupid and spend it as they earn it, then it is just a fish...

    I have left a few fishing rods around Nepal, I'm hoping to finish one more before I have to return to Sydney in 9 days from now. Each one ends up costing me money I can barely afford (the Gandharba one mentioned above has cost me about $750 US), but it gives me great pleasure, I get to 'teach' someone how to make a living beyond charity and begging, and I get to interact and experience the culture (good and bad aspects of it) in ways most travellers could not even dream of. Music truly is a universal language, even though I can't speak it...

    Speaking of languages (ha ha), I also use my Nagra V for when I teach English, one-on-one, voluntarily. It is FANTASTIC for this application. It can be configured so that all the student has to do is turn the dial to 'record', practice the word with me, then turn the dial to 'play' and hear it instantly replayed out the speaker. This kind of rapid feedback, where they can actually compare their pronunciation against mine, is invaluable and speeds up the learning process amazingly. (Um, in case you're wondering: 44.1k, 16-bit, mono.)

    I was teaching a young Nepali girl English a year or so ago, and before long she had figured it out herself. I went to order a plate of chicken mo-mos for lunch, and when I returned she was sitting in front of the microphone, flicking the Nagra in and out of record and practicing her English speaking. When I see things like that happening, I don't really care how much it costs, or costed.

    (Forgive me for blowing my own trumpet with all this altruistic stuff, but ever since turning 40 I've been driven to spend my life doing things that *actually matter*. Recording Western music of any kind is not on that list - there is plenty of it already recorded and there are plenty of people willing to do it. It is not in danger of disappearing or being irrepairably altered or consumed by other forces. How many more recordings and interpretations of Beethoven's Fifth do we really need? But when you teach a young girl to speak some basic English and realise that you are not only changing her life, but that of her whole family, and all it took you was an hour or so as part of of your lunch time entertainment each day for a few months, well... THAT matters! When I am home in Australia teaching school leavers the art and science of sound recording, I realise that I am actually teaching VERY privileged people how to supposedly make an income doing something that really doesn't matter at all... But it pays okay and allows me to keep travelling!)


    That is a great suggestion! Have you checked out the Mountain Music Fund or Mountain Music Foundation? I am not sure of their name, but they are a US-based organisation who are apparently doing something with the Gandharbas here in Nepal because much of the folk music and instruments of the Himalayas has a lot in common with that of the USA, believe it or not. I will try to get some of their details for you...
     
  6. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    hello greg... (can i call you greg?)

    kudos on the good work you are doing.

    but, from my point of view, the young girl will learn english, and along with it, she will learn to operate a computer, sooner or later will get an m-audio card and a pirated copy of reason or acid or whatever, and start working with loops and samples. She will also want to wear lipstick and mini skirts and what not and she will idolize britney spears and believe that 'friends' is the be all and end all of humour, and that will be the good life that she wants. I see this happening all the time out here.

    reminds me, in a way, of a national geographic episode i saw just a couple of years ago... white explorers go into jungle, and the first thing they do, is give the naked tribals some (western) clothes.

    i hope i am not coming across as some know-it-all asshole... i wonder if you have wrestled with the thoughts i am having, and i am keen to know what conclusions you came to.

    btw, please check out the following link... hopefully you will see that i am also trying something along the lines of what you are doing, tho' its a very third world production (!).

    http://www.myspace.com/httpwwwmyspacecom100316891

    I hope your 9 to 9 schedule back home will not keep you from finding some time for us.

    respect,
     
  7. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    I rather like the long winded replys, thanks much! Very inspiring story!
    sounds like an amazing experience.

     
  8. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Considering the possible alternatives, I’d prefer Greg… ;-)

    Ha! So far, so good… Who would deny her the positive aspects of those things, and on what grounds? Beyond a basic education, the ability to speak English is perhaps the most liberating skill a person from a poor or developing country can have. It allows that person to communicate with some of the (arguably) best-educated and wealthiest people on the planet (Western tourists, foreign investors, embassies/consulates, charitable organisations, NGOs, etc.), and that can’t be a bad thing. And while English allows a person to communicate globally, the ability to use a personal computer amplifies that communication potential dramatically through email, internet surfing, the ability to print documents, and so on.

    As for an M-Audio card, pirated software and (shock! horror!!) loops, let’s accentuate the positive: it allows her to exercise her creativity, which is a very fulfilling and satisfying thing to do. And who knows? She might produce something truly marketable. It’s a long shot, but not impossible – she’s already got the global communication skills and the internet, all she needs is the motivation and the talent because it really doesn’t matter where she is in the world.

    Right now you’re in India and I’m in Nepal, and we’re communicating freely on a page that can be read anywhere in the world with internet access (except perhaps China, depending on the content). You even have a MySpace page with photographs and excerpts of your sound recording sessions available for the world to hear, and it’s just a mouse click away from me here in Nepal…

    [Forgive me for stating the obvious, rfreez, but I think these things need to be said; primarily for the benefit of readers who were born in English-speaking countries in the internet age, who have never travelled or experienced cultures in developing countries, and who take these truly amazing things for granted.]

    I’d like to think that one or two out of every 10 of these ‘young girls’ who end up making loops and so on will develop an interest in recording/preserving the traditional music of their cultures, and you and I will be answering their questions on this forum in years to come!

    You too? Good grief… I have seen the same thing happening in Nepal and, to a lesser extent, in Occupied Tibet. (What is the appeal with Britney in particular? It is amazing. She is the #1 Western poster and T-shirt girl here…)

    The tragedy is that they are responding to a totally fabricated reality, and believe it to be true. Some of the Nepali youth I've met really do think that when I go home to Australia I return to some kind of dream world where I spend most of my time dropping in and out of coffee shops chatting with my mixture of cool and goofy friends, and all the problems and dramas I have to face in my life - no matter how serious - will be resolved by bedtime when the end credits roll… It’s a real worry. The bigger worry is that they all want this fabricated life, and try to emulate it here. So they end up living an imitation of a fabrication, if you know what I mean.

    The day before yesterday I was talking to a couple of young Nepali guys who run a CD shop in the Thamel district of Kathmandu (where all the CDs are pirated, sadly). I was wearing my very cool Bolle sunglasses and genuine faded Levis, and I’ve got fair skin, blue eyes, a pointy noise and my hair is not black - all of the Western traits that Nepalis seem to envy and desire (almost certainly through the influence of Western youth marketing). Anyway, the topic of ‘looking cool’ came up, due to my sunglasses. I am always amused by this concept of ‘cool’, having discussed it many times with my college-level students at home, and so eventually I told them that wearing a cool pair of sunglasses doesn’t make you cool, because ‘cool’ is not something you be, it is something you do. In other words, don’t ‘be cool’, ‘do cool’. I am not sure that they got it, but maybe they’re still thinking about it…

    Pollution takes many forms. Do you know *why* the ‘naked tribals’ accept or, indeed, sometimes ask for Western clothes?

    I recently saw a similar documentary (probably NatGeo) about a tribe in the Amazon who were given pots and pans and cooking utensils by some well-meaning Westerners about 20 or 30 years ago. Now the next generation no longer knows how to cook without them, and have become dependent on them. Once they were self-sufficient, now they are perpetually poor because they have nothing to trade or sell in order to obtain pots and pans in order to cook and eat. A sense of poverty induced by pots and pans! Tragic.

    Another example, closer to home for me: in preparation for meeting her parents, my Nepali wife-to-be told me told me quite apologetically that her family lived in a village and were very poor. When we trekked into the highlands to their village I saw that they shared a huge expanse of fertile land rich with corn, rice, potato, tomatoes, and so on. They also owned a number of chickens (low maintenance fresh meat and eggs), two buffalo (cheap ploughing labour, milk, one of them was pregnant), an ox (no idea what they do with that), and an endless supply of water from the monsoon rains and melting snow. No electricity, but they happily told me (via my guide/interpreter) that “electricity is coming in one year”. (It will probably be hydro, powered by the river at the bottom of the valley, and hopefully it will be a simple turbine with minimal environmental impact.)

    They survived on organic home-grown fruit and vegetables, rice, lentils, eggs, chicken, freshly-squeezed warm buffalo milk (fantastic for breakfast, creamy lumps and all!), strips of dried buffalo meat, and I suppose the odd bit of fresh lean/tough buffalo meat when one dies or is slaughtered. The reality was that they owned their ‘house’ and had everything they needed to live a traditional Nepali lifestyle, but they considered themselves poor because they could not afford certain luxuries that are the result of Western impact. The packed earth walls of her brother’s room, where I slept, were plastered with newspaper clippings of soccer heroes, Indian and Western supermodels, Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities, and, of course, Britney Spears. Against the wall a brand new colour TV sat in its sealed cardboard box, being used as a small table until the electricity arrived. Make of that what you will, but they believe they are ‘poor’…

    As I was arguing earlier, we cannot deny them these Western ‘opportunities’, but it’d be great if there was some way of letting them see the downside before they became reliant on or addicted to them. Then they could choose which parts of Westernisation they’d like to adopt (medicines/hospitals, education, news services, for example) and which parts they’d rather go without (soap operas, talk shows, fast food, etc.). The country of Bhutan seems to be doing a good job of this, by the way.

    No, you’re not coming across as some know-it-all asshole at all; you are seeing the same things I am seeing and thinking the same thoughts, and I am very happy to know that I am not the only one!

    I wrestled with these thoughts for some time, and, as a personal policy, I resolved to favour the side of progress because the rot of Westernisation has already taken hold and cannot be undone, and the only alternative to progress Westward is to keep these people uneducated, ‘unhappy’ (their own perception, due to lack of Western conveniences) and supposedly impoverished – dangling the big carrot of Westernisation frustratingly just out of their reach. And, believe it or not, that is what some Westerners want. Allow me to explain:

    In my previous long-winded post I mentioned my ‘fishing rod’ CD gift for the Gandharbas, and that hopefully they will be able to buy a personal computer with some of the proceeds. If they are able to achieve that goal, my next plan is to give them an MBox (or similar) and a Rode NT4 and teach them how to record their music direct-to-stereo. I will help them set up their performance room - where they give live unamplified acoustic concerts every night to visiting Westerners in the hope of selling some CDs or handmade instruments - as a suitable space for impromptu recording (we’re not talking ‘audiophile’ here!). The performance set-up for these nightly concerts is always the same, so all they need is a half-decent PC with CD burner, an MBox, an NT4, a pair of headphones, some basic acoustic treatment, a few hours of training, a bit of trial-and-error practice, and a mark on the floor indicating where to place the mic stand. Not hard to do at all. Then, when visiting tourists are given their own private concert, a few minutes later they’ll be able to buy a CD of it, signed by each of the musicians. A moment captured in time; a unique and personalised souvenir! Beyond the financial aspect of it, imagine what it will do for the musicians’ sense of pride and self-worth.

    And yet…

    I was discussing this idea with an otherwise lovely older woman who has been a regular sponsor of the Gandharbas. Every year she comes here during her holidays (I assume) and spends lots of money buying them clothes, gifts, food, etc. So I told her my idea of the PC and the microphone and the CD burner and so on, and her reaction was not what I was expecting. “Oh no!” she said, with scolding desperation, “Computers are too hard for them. They are simple people. They cannot learn to use computers.” This sent me reeling, I mean, even a five-year old kid can figure out Windows with a little prompting (heck, I’m having trouble lately keeping Tejash and Ajit, the two little Nepali boys who live next door, OFF my laptop!) How backwards did she think these guys were? They may not have had a great education but they have as much capability for learning as any other person, and some of them can read and speak English reasonably well. I got quite angry at her for saying that – moreso because one of the Gandharbas was sitting at the table with us, following the conversation. I’m sure that off-hand comment of hers made him feel absolutely splendid.

    It took me a while to comprehend her point of view and its inherent selfishness. She didn’t want them to progress beyond the charity-dependent level they were at because it made her feel good to come here and shower them with gifts and, in return, receive their adoration. If they were to become more self-sufficient, she wouldn’t feel so important any more. It suited her to keep them hungry and give them fish rather than fishing rods!

    I think this is a subconsciously selfish attitude that is shared by many Western tourists. We subconsciously conspire to commit these people to an impoverished and uneducated state so we can visit their country for a week, see them living in that state, marvel at how they do it, pity them at the same time, donate a bit ‘feel good’ money here and there, and then return to our safe and clean Western lives and reflect upon how lucky we are. It’s an eye-opening week for us, but a lousy lifetime for them.

    In 1990 I trekked in the hill tribes in Northern Thailand, it was my first experience out of Australia. I stayed overnight in a village of the Karen tribe from Burma, which was not accessible by road. This seemed to be totally traditional in every way; the huts with woven walls and thatched roofs, the clothing, the food, you name it. The women spent their afternoons sitting in front of their huts weaving traditional fabrics on looms to sell at the markets. All the huts stood high above the ground on poles, and at night all his buffalos were tied to the poles and took shelter under the hut. Everything was meticulously clean and tidy, all things considered. We slept on the floor of the chief’s hut that night, and the whole hut moved when his buffalos bumped against the poles, and reeked of methane when they farted. I distinctly remember the look of detached amusement on the fire-lit faces of the chief and his family when one of our trekking group pulled out her acoustic guitar (about the only damn thing she carried herself) and started singing 'Me and Bobby McGee' and 'Knock knock knocking on heaven's door' (about the only damn things she could sing). It was a look that said, “This sound comes from somewhere else”, and that was all there was to it. I was too young and naive then to be concerned with the kinds of things we are discussing now, but in retrospect I remember all of those people as being very proud and happy. They gave us no guilt trips or sad stories with the aim of getting sympathy money, and they didn’t try to sell us any of their wares.

    We also stayed in villages belonging to other ‘tribes’ where dirt roads connected them to the nearest towns. These villages were like shanty towns; brick and corrugated iron ‘huts’, satellite dishes, a TV somewhere, one or two rusted-out 4WDs held together with fencing wire, alcohol and cigarettes, empty bottles and plastic wrappers everywhere, a few mangy dogs to kick around, dirty and grubby people wearing dirty and grubby Western clothing with desperate stories to tell about needing money. In one of these villages a smell emanated from under the bench we slept on, but it was not methane - a chicken was busily decomposing under there. Just another part of the rubbish. These people were not proud or happy, had little or no self-respect and seemed to resent our presence. At the time, I was glad to leave. But now I wonder if, many years before the roads came, these people were happy and proud like the Karen people? I also wonder, what are the Karen villages like now?

    I have not expressed myself entirely clearly here, and have used some reasonably predictable anecdotes but hopefully you get the idea. There are actually two arguments running concurrently here. The first is that living a Western life is expensive, and if you introduce this to a culture that can’t afford it you risk creating a new ‘self-perceived poor class’ where one never previously existed, along with the potential for resentment and so on. The second is that many people don’t consciously realise it, but it suits them to keep these newly-formed ‘self-perceived poor classes’ poor – it provides a good contrast and reality check for our comfy Western lives.

    Sorry for another lengthy post, but you're hitting on a pet topic of mine. I'm no expert, though...
     
  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Great stuff, even though the internet connection here means I am hearing it in intermittent spurts. In headphones, at least, I like the roominess of it, it puts me in the place - almost feels like a Western cafe! That instrument he is playing, is it like a small drum with a string attached to the middle of the skin that he pulls and plucks? If so, what is it called? I recorded an Indian musician playing one of those as part of a 3 piece ensemble of snake charmers I met in Pokhara. It was described to me as a 'monkey guitar'! It sounds great in your recordings. What mics did you use?
     
  10. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    simmosonic,

    thank you very much for your reply. I have read it completely and also printed it out to read again tonight. Much as i learn everything i know from the internet (unfortunately, in a sense), this type of communication (which happens too few times for me), is my most precious.

    this makes complete sense to me... the damage is already done, or is being done unstoppably... the best we can do is to also expose them to the nicer utilities that modern technology has to offer. Hopefully your presence will also help them segregate the superficial aspects of western culture from what it really is.

    sir... with all due respect... you are imagining that all the file compression is killing what was actually a very good recording. In reality and full resolution, that recording sounds absolutely awful... the compression is actually helping in not revealing how bad the recording really is. It was recorded in a 18' x 20' room with cement walls and tiled flooring. And though i adjusted the parameters to complement/sort of emulate the room sound, there is a small amount of 'realverb' from my powered plugins card. Recorded m/s... with a CAD M179 as 'm' and an AKG C414B-ULS as the 's' mic.

    absolutely! its called the khomok or khamak.


    respcet,
     
  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Sounds like AliG has joined this forum. :)
     
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fascinating!

    Greg - if you ever publish a diary or journal of your travels, count me as the first person standing in line at Borders to get my reserved copy.

    You paint such a vivid picture, I feel as if I've seen what you are talking about. I'm afraid even if I live to be 120 years old, I won't get to experience what you have in the past 16 years.

    (y)
     
  13. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    I think that all of evolution has been leading up to one ultimate creation... AliG, my real hero... Western civilization at its absolute best! :lol:

    respect,
    :wink:
     
  14. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Yeah, that's the idea... They are in a very unique position to learn from our mistakes - as if the Western world had the chance to start again! Unfortunately, they are sometimes in such a hurry to adopt Westernisation that they don't want to see the bad side of it. You see this all over the world. As I was saying earlier, it is expensive and therefore creates a new 'self-perceived poor class' where one didn't exist...
     
  15. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Ha! You're probably right, but it also depends on what you were hoping to achieve. If you went into that recording with the goal of turning out something like Kavi has released in the past, well sure, it falls short of the mark - the recording space has let you down.

    But what you HAVE done is capture a moment in time, and I think you have captured it quite well because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I looked at the picture, which provided a basic visual framework for my imagination to work with, and I was sufficiently *there* to be happy.

    I have made numerous recordings like that. You have to get philosophical about it and the situation you're in, and re-assess what you were *trying* to achieve and what you actually *did* achieve. For that recording, the reality was that you were recording in a rather small and live room and you can't cheat physics. Remember this mantra: "small rooms make small sounds, big rooms make big sounds, live rooms make live sounds, dead rooms make dead sounds". You recorded a solo performer in a small live room, and you captured the sound of a solo performance in a small live room. Well done, give yourself a pat on the back!

    Log onto the Smithsonian Global Sound website and you'll hear lots of recordings similar to that. They are, if nothing else, great moments in time, warts and all. It's one of my all-time favourite websites:

    http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/

    I can only speak from my own experience, but perhaps the following will be of interest. When I first hit Tibet with my Nagra/Schoeps combo, I was subconsciously expecting/hoping that every recording I made would be album quality - considering the gear I'm using, that was not an unrealistic expectation. I often got disappointed when things didn't turn out how I wanted them to. But, when I played them to non-audio people I was surprised how much they really enjoyed them and eventually I realised why - my equipment is clean enough and my technique is sufficiently good enough that I can capture a moment in time and put the listener into it some time later.

    So... now I have a couple of different categories that I mentally file each recording into, often before I even make the recording. It is usually either going to be a 'moment in time' documentary-style recording with perhaps a photograph to go with it, or it is going to be something worthy of releasing. Thinking about this in advance allows me to put the recording into perspective, do a better job of it, and not get disappointed with it later. As an example, perhaps I am walking down the street and see/hear a fantastic street musician; in a different environment this might be a release-type recording, but here there are vehicles in the background, people passing by and stopping for a gander (if you're in Lhasa you'll quickly have a keenly interested crowd around you), and so on. Instead of letting all those 'background' sounds frustrate me, I now try to capture them properly to provide context.
     
  16. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    In this situation you may want to resort to a bit of 'guerilla acoustic work' to open up the room a little bit. The smallness of the room is accentuated by the first order reflections that exist between the performer and the microphone. So, when you've got the mic and performer in the right spot, and done the best you can for the right balance/sound, the next thing you want to do is try to identify and kill the first order reflections from nearby surfaces. It's not hard to do, especially if you have a small mirror...

    Stand at the microphone and have a friend run the mirror along each wall until you find the spot where, from the microphone's point of view, you can see the performer in the mirror. This is the spot where sound is going to reflect from the performer into the microphone and provide a sonic cue as to the smallness of the room, and so you need to stop that reflection from reaching your microphone. There are two ways to do this. One is to hang some absorption over the spot where the mirror is, perhaps a blanket or quilt or similar, but it will need to be at least 60cm x 60cm to be effective (I use mic stands with boom arms to hold the absorption in place, setting the boom arm parallel to the floor and hanging the absorption over it). The other is to place something hard and reflective in front of the reflection point, angled so that the reflection is deflected away from the microphone. As you identify and remove these reflections from the microphone, one by one (starting with the surfaces closest to the performer and microphone), you may notice the sound becoming clearer and less cluttered, and the sense of 'roominess' will be reduced accordingly. The stereo image will improve considerably, too. You're not going to make it perfect, but it might become more acceptable.

    While you're at it, don't forget the floor! It is often the biggest offender - especially if the performers are sitting on the floor. Find the spot on the floor where, from the microphone's position, you can see the performer in the mirror. Then put a rug or similar over it. Last year I recorded a Tibetan monk reciting mantras in an incomplete assembly hall at a monastery - the room was incredibly live because it had none of the furnishing or cushions or anything in it. I sat the monk on the floor, well away from any walls, and set my mic up as low as possible, so it was about the same height as his mouth. He was only about 1m from the microphone (the room was highly reverberant), but there was a bit of comb filtering that I couldn't figure out at first. Then I realised it was due to a reflection off the floor, so I took off my fleece jacket and laid it out in the appropriate spot. Problem solved!

    It's always worth a try.

    Sometimes the best recordings are made with an audience - the performers often respond better when they have someone to play to. If you have a few people hanging around and a lack of absorption, perhaps get one or two people to stand in front of each reflection point. Just make sure they don't move away from it, or sit down...

    That's it! Thanks...
     
  17. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Sure... It will be called 'Forty Years Without A Suit', because some years ago I achieved my adolescent goal of making it to the age of 40 without ever wearing a suit. A dubious goal, perhaps, but it gave me a damn good reason for avoiding weddings, christenings and so on. Eventually my friends understood and, as I got closer to 40, they helped me achieve it by not inviting me to weddings, christenings and so on.

    Well... I'm pretty sure that's why they didn't invite me.

    [Did I ever tell you about the most dangerous thing in the Amazon?]
     
  18. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    its uncanny... my response to zemlin's post (last night) almost literally echoes your comments here, which i read just now. (but an 'echo' is supposed to happen 'after' the event isn't it?:).

    thanks for the heads up and the kind words simmosonic... it will be remembered with gratitude for a long time to come.

    respect,
     
  19. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Funny you should say that...

    After posting my (condescending-in-retrospect) message to you, I skimmed through the other topics and saw your response to zemlin's post. All I could do was laugh! There I was telling you the same things you were simultaneously telling someone else about getting philosophical about what you have to record and how.

    But it gets even uncannier... yesterday I had the spontaneous fortune to record an excellent sitar and tabla duo, but in a very small room in a house in Balaju, Kathmandu. All I could do was think about our communications regarding recording in small rooms! I don't have any rights to broadcast or release this recording, but email me directly if you're interested [simmosonic@gmail.com] and I'll send you an mp3 excerpt and some pics (for perspective) and explain how I tried to keep the 'smallness' at bay. As a purveyor of Indian music recordings, your feedback would be appreciated.
     

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