Recording Indian classical music

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by cb1, May 8, 2008.

  1. cb1

    cb1 Active Member

    Any experienced tips on recording ICM? Specifically speaking-sitar, tabla, tanpura. Mic techniques, mic/preamp/compressor combinations that produced great results?

    For sitar, I have heard that a 421 at 45 degrees at the bridge works great. I have also heard that 414's on tabla work out great. Is it best to stereo mic the tablas or just one mic for both? Often on a cd the tablas seem to be panned to one side. As far as mic placement on tanpura, I don't know.

    It also seems that punching in may be a bit more of a challenge especially on the drut gat (fast part) considering the different tals (beat cycles). Any insight on this?

  2. Sidhu

    Sidhu Active Member

    Hey CB!

    With regard to tablas, a 414 will work very well. Depending on the instrument, you might want to remove a touch of around 1K. I would mic with a single microphone, and get a good balance between the baiyan (bass) and the Chaati tablas. I have often experimented with a stereo mic, and usually been less than satisfied, for one, the Tabla is essentially a mono intrument and just sounds strange in a stereo setting. I keep my tablas panned centre.

    For the tambura, i usually find a spot above the bridge where the drone is loudest and place a mic there, a dynamic often does well, but you might want to look into a condenser, i personally prefer a dark sound. Classical musicians will often have two tamburas to accompany then, and this can add a nice rich flavor to the track, panned to taste. What I often do is prerecord the tamburas, a 5-10 minutes loop does well. This helps in keeping the recording clean and tight (Tamburas can be very soft).

    For sitar's ive been wanting to try a ribbon for a while now. I sometime use two microhones, one very close to the body, and another bout a foot from just over the bridge. Merge to taste. Enjoy!

  3. cb1

    cb1 Active Member

    Thanks much Sidhu.
  4. d_fu

    d_fu Guest

    I'd definitely go for a condenser on the Sitar instead of the 421. I've used good ol' AKG 460s and they did well. What mics have you got at your disposal? I could imagine a 414 might do well, too.

    Excellent advice on the Tabla from Sidhu there. It really is essentially a mono instrument, no need whatsoever for more than one mic.

    There is usually no change of tala within the gat. I've done a good deal of editing of ICM, maybe I can help, if you could be more specific about the "punching in" idea.

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    my gut tells me that punching in would be a complete no-no with this kind of music. Editing between takes or phrases, yes, but punching in??? Nahhhhhh.....this music doens't work that way, and you'd probably get a lot of blank stares from the players.

    Close mic to your heart's content, but consider putting up a stereo pair out some distance from the ensemble, or even spaced flanks/outriggers to get the blend of the ensemble working together, and to preserve the natural left-right balance. Dial it in to taste in mixdown.

    These musicians usually all sit on the floor together, on a rug or mat, so keep that in mind as well; you may want to go a little lower than "Traditional" classical music mic'ing. (Of course, this IS the classical music of the east, but I think you get my drift....) :cool:
  6. cb1

    cb1 Active Member

    Good points. As far as punching, for example, if the sitar player makes a mistake during the performance-alap, gat, ect.. And who knows, it could be 10 minutes into a 20 minute performance. If he wants to correct it, then it would be neccessary to punch. But the more I think of it, I think the best thing would be to roll him in and record on a new track and then comp it. Seems easier.

    As far as mics choices, I'm just planning now but can get my hands on most common mics when it's time. I had heard that a 421 works great but a condenser-460 sounds like a good choice too. It would be brighter. I'll have to experiment.
  7. d_fu

    d_fu Guest

    No... This is not pre-composed music. There are no "mistakes" as such. If something is not quite the way the player wants it (e.g. if a phrase goes awry, if intonation slips, or if there's a short interruption for tuning, etc.), things can be edited out later (which does take some knowledge of the music to be done properly). The player just needs to (and will) maintain the pulse or speed (in the jor, jhala, or gat portions), and repeat whatever he wants. He'd then simply have to tell you what he wants edited out. I've never seen any punching in a classical recording, and there is not much sense in doing so.

    :?: :?:
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "But the more I think of it, I think the best thing would be to roll him in and record on a new track and then comp it."
    Some hint of smoking dubious substances and overuse of compression in that statement, IMO.
    Unless he walks around wrapped up in a carpet? Then you could roll him in....
  9. cb1

    cb1 Active Member

    Comp meant comping. not compressing. You know, like comping vocals and solos. People do it all the time. Seemed like a reasonable idea to me.

    But I'll take d_fu's advice since like I said, I haven't recorded ICM before and wasn't sure what to expect in the tracking process.
  10. d_fu

    d_fu Guest

    What kind of recording is this, and who are the artists, if I may ask...?
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "Comp meant comping. not compressing."
    I thought as much. Just me and my big sense of humour butting into everything that's mildly funny. Like cheese on a stick.

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