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Recording a bagpipe band

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Frank The Piper, Jul 16, 2016.

  1. Frank The Piper

    Frank The Piper Active Member

    I am a new member to this forum. Thank you for being here. :)

    I am a member of a bagpipe band near Philadelphia PA. I have played the pipes for 40+ years. We are working on a CD. I read a post about a single piper trying to record music. You were all so helpful I figured I might try. I will gladly include your credits in the final product if you like.

    I have a background in television production, film work and video editing. I knew going in this would take a lot of work. Instead of going to a recording studio, I know a lot of music is being produced in less than excellent locations. In addition I wanted to try several different things and thought a recording studio may be too limiting.

    On my own I purchased a ZOOM R16 recording system. Eight separate tracks can be recorded at a time. As was mentioned in another bagpipe post I decided to get the mics very close to attenuate outside noises. I have an example of the raw recordings and my early mixed version. There are player mistakes and we are working on that. We recorded each mike at optimal level without worrying about mixing. On my laptop I mixed it using Audacity. I should mention that we did not record the drones in the first pass. They were recorded later and mixed in. It may be cheating but we really want to do a decent job. Our audience will like it I am sure. In addition we want to play new sets but want a good recording of what we have.

    One of the things I liked doing was playing with stereo. I am thinking I want certain players on the left or right when the are playing seconds or drum flourishes. This heightens the separation experience. I have never heard it on bagpipe recordings. I always wanted to give it a try.

    We have purchased a few other items like, 6 Behringer XM1B00s mics, a PYLE PDKM7 drum mic set. This helped a lot in our bass and snare drum recordings. We also have a mixture of Shure SM58 and Shure Prologue 8L mikes. You can find the recordings at www.frc272.com/files/CDExamples. This includes the raw recordings on one of the tunes.

    I am asking for any help in evaluating what I am going. Many thanks again in advance.
  2. Frank The Piper

    Frank The Piper Active Member

    Just an update. The files are the raw files and uncompressed mixdown. They are large.
  3. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    To be honest, from my somewhat limited (and fairly unsuccessful) experience, I was guessing the results would be horrible - but I think you've done a decent enough job with the kit you have. The blending of the drones from a second take has worked better than I thought. The one issue I've got are the drums. There's an awful lot of energy from those marching bass drums, but worst of all is the snare recording - something has gone astray with the stereo recording. I can't tell if it a slap back from the walls, or if it's a real delay caused by separation, or maybe even time delay on a spaced pair perhaps? Either way, it's disturbing. I checked on headphones and it's really odd - rapid side to side shifts. The pipes have width and blend well - the snares almost sound as if you gathered them all left and recorded them, then moved them all right and had them play along.

    Whatever you did, it needs work with the drums to make them blend fast snare drum rolls that expand your brain to twenty or thirty feet feels odd.

    How did you record them?
  4. Frank The Piper

    Frank The Piper Active Member

    We recorded in a room that has no sound proofing at all. We are looking for a better location now. I may be that the snares sound is so over powering that it is hard to get the stereo correct. The part you did not hear was we have 3 tenors with bass covers. They were not no mic but still over powered. When I listened to this I knew this would be a problem. I have told the rest of them the tenor will not be playing unless that have tenor heads and we can use the only for accent. No tenor flourishes. Having tenors playing bass has been a problem for a while but band politics gets in the way.

    Do the pipes sound clear? I was concerned that being too close to the mics might over power the mics.
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Have you considered recording the entire pipes/drums section outside using various setups/placements of stereo and omni arrays? Perhaps an empty field somewhere, out in the middle of nowhere? Or maybe a small football stadium? I'm not kidding, here.

    Pipes and drums together are more of a "sectional" sound than they are "individuals", and we don't listen to bagpipes - or field drums - with our ears pressed up against the canter or the bags...not without drinking a whole lotta Glenfiddich, anyway. ;)

    ...just a suggestion from your resident Scotsman.

    SlĂ inte!

  6. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Hey !

    - I resemble that remark !!

    Don't forget the mhaith !
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I wasn't implying that I was the only thistle-head here. Just resident at the time. ;)
    Sean G likes this.
  8. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Thats' gold
  9. Frank The Piper

    Frank The Piper Active Member

    Thanks for all the replies. We can go to a field and do this. I was hoping to get closer. We as a band need to work on our unison and mistakes are killing us. I decided to try to record us separately. Pipes, then drums.
    The idea is we get the pipes to do a good job recording that part, good unison using headsets with metronome then have the drums come in later to record their track separately. We were able to do it as a test. I do like the results. This eliminates the drums fighting with the pipes and sounds crashing into each other. Have a listen and please comment. You are all helping me more that you know.


    Many thanks
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think that's a good idea. Not having to deal with room reflections is gonna really make a difference.

    That's the oldest and most crucial detail in the history of recording music. ;)

    Hmmm.. I dunno Frank. I don't think I'd be doing it this way. I think what I would do is to have all the players outside, as discussed, but, have the drums face one direction, and mic them, and then have the pipes facing the opposite direction, and mic them that way... Just thinking out loud, considering what I would do, if tasked with this same project. (I've never recorded an entire pipe and drum band before, only solo pipers, but I'm thinking you might get some nice results this way, and it would save you a step of having the drums coming in to do overdubs, dealing with HP mixes, etc...)

    Also, it seems that you are missing some low end in the entire mix - it sounds pretty thin; you might want to consider "spot miking" one of the bass drums, as well as doing the same with a couple of the pipers; up closer, so that you're able to grab some more of the lower frequencies of the drones... I'd use an LDC/dynamic for this spot micing, as opposed to a small condenser. This doesn't take the place of your more distant mics, but it would giove you a little more "weight" to blend with the other mics in the final mix, as you see fit.

    IMHO of course. ;)

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