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New Sample, etc.

Hey guys -

I've been swamped lately and thankfully it's not getting better until at least July of next year!

Anyway, I thought I'd post a quick (not really...) sample of something I recorded last night. I'm not 100% pleased with the sound of the brass as they sound a little boxy and the strings a tad thin, but it's the piece that I dig! This is a new composition by Edward Messerschmidt and, to me, it's wonderful. You can clearly hear the Mahler influence in the piece with the expansion and inversion of motifs and overall lyrical style.

The funny thing about this recording...

We were scheduled to do it at the Performing Arts School in Prince William, VA but, due to severe weather, the school shut down early. So...we went to our orchestra's usual venue - a church on the other side of the county (with questionable acoustics...) However, the road was flooded out, so no go there either.

Anyway, we wound up at another church back on the other side of the county again and recorded. We lost a few players (mainly upper strings) due to the weather (lost as in *couldn't make it* not the other connotation.)

About 80% of the musicians are pros, the other are serious amatuers. There are a couple spots with funky intonation, but considering we were 10 musicians or so down and frazzled, I'd say a decent performance.

So here's the link:

(Dead Link Removed)

It's the full work, so the file size is a bit on the large size (around 10MB).


Also, I thought I'd punch in and let you guys know of some of the upcoming gigs that I'll be recording - I hope to get releases to post most if not all of the groups' samples.

tomorrow - American Balalaika Orchestra - Schlesinger Concert Hall

Monday - Soprano Toni Crowder - National City Christian Church (for reference, this church has the second largest pipe organ in the DC metro area with over 7,000 working/active pipes!)

Monday night - not recording, but playing with the venerable Friday Morning Music Club in the Kennedy Center.

Remy - Bruce is recording this one - will you be there too?

Friday and Saturday Dec 1 and 2 - Gay Men's Chorus of Washington - GMU Lisner Auditorium

December 5 - XM satellite headquarters- will be attending the Sennheiser/Neumann Microphone clinic.

December 6th and 8th - Washington Symphonietta - National City Christian Church

Well...anyway - that's a short look into the future. I'd love to say that I hate being this busy, but that would be a dreadful lie!

Cheers all!



Cucco Tue, 11/21/2006 - 15:11
At the risk of getting mildly back on subject.... :lol:

Here's a short (un-edited/un-mixed) clip of the project I did yesteray. BOY was this fun. (I mean that quite seriously!) A wonderful pianist, a wonderful soprano, a wonderful producer, a wonderful venue and everyone was having a great time! The piano was okay, but not great (7.1 Steinway from the early 1980s acceptably well in tune but far from perfect - though it had been tuned less than a week prior).

The sound of the hall is 100% au reverb at all here. In fact, I have done no EQ, reverb or any other sort of processing yet. I hope to fix a little of the odd midrange in the piano in post, but other than that I'll leave it mostly as is.

All mics used were ribbon except the hall (ambience) mics.

(Dead Link Removed)

Cucco Wed, 11/22/2006 - 05:17
aracu wrote: Fantastic sound, Cucco. Did you use a Royer stereo mic?

Nope...I used a M/S pair on the piano (M130/M160) so that I could place the soloist in the null - though with the reverb in the church, it only helped a little. For the soloist, I used an M130. I did accidentally lie though... other than the outriggers (which were my trusty M296s), I had one Schoeps CMC6 Mk2s under the piano to pick up a little bit more presence.

I'm pretty sure that's where my ugly midrange is coming from, so I'm going to try and work with it...

I'll post some pics of the session in a little bit.


Cucco Wed, 11/22/2006 - 06:14

As for levels - I don't really give that much thought during the recording phase. I set it where it sounds good through the cans and where I have at least a good 6-10 dB of headroom on each channel. (added - I don't mess with DAW faders or gain, only the mic pre gain - often, this clips the output bus during tracking, but as long as none of the channels are close to clipping, I'm comfortable.)

As for panning, M/S takes care of itself. I panned the vocalist dead center and the outriggers hard left and right. The trickiest part was the under-piano mic. Since I was getting a LOT of extra piano out of the left (a good 2 dB or so), I gently panned the under-piano mic to the right.

It took a little to find the right spot - too much and the piano sounded like a 20 foot Steinway. Too little and there's a slight misbalance.

The funny thing is, based on the way that the soloist is picked up in her mic as well as the MS pair, according the meters, there's a 2-3 dB swing to the left when she gets loud. Audibly, however, there is no shift in her sound from dead center. It's just one of those moments where I don't trust meters (especially digital DAW meters!)


Cucco Wed, 11/22/2006 - 10:11
GentleG wrote: thank you

it seems the highs of the piano are from te right,
this is probably due to the bottom mics I assume?

so the m/s is panned 70% full width left to right?


The MS is panned 100%. The only real way to narrow the width of the mid/side ratio is to change the level of the two signals relative to eachother. In this case, since both mics are pretty darn close to the same sensitivity and the Millennia has accurate detents, I can say with relative assurance that both mics are pretty darned close to matched and no gain change between either was performed for this example.


Member Wed, 11/22/2006 - 16:47
thank you

ok, now I understand what you have done.

and purely to learn something, surely not to question your work:
why did you do it this way?

my simple reasoning seems to think that the piano is to the left and the solist to right,
this is probably also what you can hear in the two 'room'mics
why not pan the 'close'mics a bit accordingly?
why both centerstage?

again, not questioning your work, just trying to learn


Cucco Wed, 11/22/2006 - 17:52
Well...there's a few reasons.

First - as an audience member (were this a concert) you would hear a cohesive sound stage with both the soloist and the pianist coming from the front. Not one from the left and one from the right.

Additionally, panning the piano to the left would feel (and sound) awfully wierd. The piano is a large instrument and relegating to only one side of the mix would be unrealistic. In fact, this 7.1' Steinway did a decent job of filling this hall with sound (though a 9' concert grand would certainly have been better!)

In addition, the vocalist is definitely the star - panning to either extreme would be a problem. However, pulling slightly to one side or the other isn't so much of a sin. For soloists who are performing with orchestra, I usually pan the soloist (unless it's piano or organ) to the left a little.

Bear in mind, the soloist and the piano do not occupy the same place in the mix. The soloist is centered with uncorrelated reverb out of both left and right. The piano is a spread (across the stereo field) instrument - much like a guitar and singer only wider).

One other thing to consider is that, in this case I'm not trying to document the exact position in which either instrument were positioned. Rather, I'm going for a more "polished," commercially viable sound.

The hall mics pick up the soloist at almost the exact same time as the distance from her to both mics was relatively similar (think of a very tall triangle with the point at the top. If you were to swing the apex a little bit in either direction the delta between the two legs is relatively small. Try the same thing with a smaller/shorter triangle and the delta becomes greater. Hence, the distance of the hall mics to the performer made such minor left and right positioning distances negligible). Therefore, the sound which they are picking up is far less directional than you might think. If I solo just those two mics, you can tell just a *little* bit that the soloist is right of center, but only a little tiny bit.

As for why I did M/S with the piano...(not sure if you were asking, but I'll say anyway)

I wanted a good, cohesive stereo piano sound but still have the ability to reject a little of the soloist. This left me with any of the near-coincident or coincident patterns. However, I like having the ability to spread the piano or narrow the piano on a whim after recording it. This led me inevitably to M/S. In addition, given the hard surfaces in the church (marble, tile and hardwood), I wanted to go with mics that would have a smooth upper character. That is what led me to ribbons - also another deciding factor in the pattern (plus I just dig the sound of M/S on piano.)

Does any of that kinda help??

I know where you're coming from with your questions, but listen to a few opera discs (admittedly, most will not be accompanied by piano). The soloist is surrounded by orchestra, not opposing them...

J. 8-)

JoeH Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:17
I hear what you're saying, Jeremy.... (Cueing up Johnny Mathis's version of: "It's the Most...Wonderful Time....of the yearrrrrrrrr.....")

Got a double going tonight, one of them is Carmina Burana (with DANCERS! oh, boy....), and just finished a broadcast of Barber of Seville which airs tomorrow. I had my own moment of epiphany late last night when I was finishing up the paperwork and printouts for this one. I took a rare moment and simply LISTENED to the overture as a client instead of an engineer (you all know it; love it, hate it, etc...Bugs Bunny has also had his turn with it....) It was one of those little moments that reinforces all that we do for a living, hearing this whip-sharp chamber orchestra playing this amazing work by Rossini, and "I" get to record the thing! Just gorgeous, impeccable playing by some of the best musicians in the business.

It airs tomorrow (Sat.) on WRTI 90.1 FM in Philadelphia EST, or you can pick it up on the web at If you tune in around 3:15 EST or so (after the introductions and longggg boring program notes), you can hear the overture, perhaps one of the best works ever written by Rossini.

As it turns out, I'm also working Thanksgiving of my clients had the bright idea of holding their late-fall concerts the day after Thanksgiving; three days in a row of Baroque Chamber music (including the Four Seasons - again!) in three different churches all over the area. (Well, it at least gives me a reason to escape all the deadly "Family gatherings" over the long weekend.)

Gobble gobble, indeed. :wink:

mdemeyer Fri, 11/17/2006 - 21:26
Barber is such a wonderful opera. Saw the San Francisco production recently (no recording involved, just pleasure), complete with Figaro working off the back of his Vespa... :D

And, for you opera fans, the $64,000 question is...

For what opera did Rossini originally write the overture to Barber?

And the bonus question is...

How many operas did he use this overture for?

I'll think of a prize for the winner. :wink:


DavidSpearritt Sat, 11/18/2006 - 13:38
mdemeyer wrote: And, for you opera fans, the $64,000 question is...
For what opera did Rossini originally write the overture to Barber?

Composed originally for "Aureliano in Palmira" in 1813.

And the bonus question is...
How many operas did he use this overture for?

The he used it again in "Elisabetta Regina d'Inghilterra" which premiered in 1815. So three altogether including the Barber.

How OLD was Rossini when he wrote it?

mdemeyer Sat, 11/18/2006 - 22:37

The Barber overture (in varying forms), was used 4 times, including the Barber. Dates are premiers:

Oct 26, 1811 L'equivoco stravagante

Dec 26, 1813 Aureliano in Palmira

Oct 4, 1815 Elisabetta Regina d'Inghilterra

Feb 20, 1816 Almaviva, o sia L'inutile precauzione (renamed the Barber of Seville, by which it is known today)

I've never heard a recording of L'equivoco stravagante, so I can't personally attest to how large the changes between it and the 1816 version might be...

Given the above, I guess it's hard to say how old he was when the overture was written. Since he was born 1792, somethere between 19 and 24. 21 works for me. :D

And how much was he paid for 'the Barber'? :wink: