Skip to main content

recording indian music trios

greetings

some of you may have have seen my posts regarding this on other forums... i have been looking for an optimal solution for quite some time and got some (i think) very useful input, but think theres a better solution out there.

i have recorded too many carnatic (south indian classical) music concerts close mic'd in noisy venues and am now quite sick of the sound... looking to start a little label with a 'purist' approach to do the same... i've found a big room with a great, natural reverb, now i need to buy the gear and begin testing. I have a very finite 3rd world budget and simply cannot test equipment here before buying... hell most companies aren't even represented here.

I have tried very hard to find a two mic solution, m/s looks like an option, but i'm not sure. So heres an illustration of the two options i have currently zoned into (the choice of mics is indicative... currently i am more concerned with the approach):

My questions:

* if i were to use the m/s approach here, the vocal will be 3' or more away from the array... isn't this likely to make the voice sound very thin?

*what would happen if i used an omni as the 'm' mic, in this situation?

* as long as i don't put any musicians on axis with the 's' mic, it should hold up well when folded down to mono...no? or will the balances change severely?

* if i were to go with the 3 mic approach... how will the vocal sound through the x/y pair (without the spot mic)... will it sound unstable in the stereo field? will x/y or some near coincident pair alone be enough for the trio, with the vocal anchored in the center, or willl i have to necessarily spot the vocal? (the stereo pair i guess will be directly in front of the vocal, about 5'-7' away.)

I look forward to hearing of possible alternate approaches, as well as caveats and problems i might encounter with either of the two illustrated approaches.

please note:

* i intend to use no no reverb or post production effects, at least as far as possible. Minimum number of mics is a must.
* sight lines between the 3 musicians should be quite good.
* vocalist has to be in the centre of the soundstage at all times
* mrithangam (two headed percussion instrument) has the potential to be louder than the voice, but plays a supporting role only... i should be able to place it far enough so that it doesn't override the voice.
* most of the musicians are old and very senior... pretty set in their ways... i won't for example be able to ask them to look up and sing into a blumlein pair or change the approximate positions/orientation of the musicians...

thanks in advance for any inputs.

rfreez.

Comments

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 07/24/2006 - 20:46
Dear Mike, I forgot to include this my last post: in your reply you had mentioned "Deadhead". Well, there is no doubt that amoung all the rock bands, the Dead cared the most about sound. No one, not the Beatles nor the Rolling Stones (who both made far more money) spent the time, effort and money like the Dead did. For this alone they get into Audio Vikuntha!!!
The man most responsible for all of that, including the "Wall of Sound", their in house guru, The Bear, made a recording titled "Old and in the Way". It had fantastic sound and great playing. Some young turks (Garcia/Grissman) playing with the Elders (Vasser Clemants). My point here is that this great recording was done with EV dynamic mikes!!! (Recorder was a Nagra IV-S).
No tweeks, no tricks. From this it is clear that one need not have the exotic tube mike, modified by some con artist claiming other worldly performence!
I have always enjoyed "American Beauty" and "Working Man's Dead", both for the sound and the music, although the Bear may not have had anythig to do with the sound on these.
The editor of Mix is to soon release a book that will deal with the Dead and the evolution of their sound systems.
Keep on Trucking... KAVI.

rfreez Mon, 07/24/2006 - 21:44
How come no Indian ever thought of playing the cello, the Western instrument most suited for Indian music?

about 10 years ago (when i was doing my undergrad studies) chennai's string quartet did a recording of thyagaraja kritis. It featured kunnakudi vaidyanathan's son shekhar on cello. It was recorded with two tlm170s by p.balaraman, one of the very few 'aware' engineers here who cared about audio purity. At the time i was very taken by the really fresh sound, but i lost the tape and have since not been able to find it in the stores. It appears that nobody took to the idea.

respect,

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 07/24/2006 - 22:18
Dear Rfreez, I have many LPs of Kunnakuddi and enjoy his "rock & roll" type approch to Karnatic music! Heavy "rhythm section", always with the three percussion instruments of mridangam, ghatam and kanjira. Lot of flash and fire, with deep emotion as well. I forgot to add his recordings to my list the first arouud. I belive he was the first to record with tavil accompaniment. Valayapetti did a great job on those recordings! Is the son still playing Karnatic music on the Cello? Does he have the fire of the father? Thanks for the info. KAVI.

rfreez Tue, 07/25/2006 - 02:58
hello kavi

i have used the services of shekhar as a film session musician on a number of occasions but not in a carnatic context... so i cannot comment on that. But guess what...! i just picked up the cd of the quartet recording... the store had one last copy :) I have heard it and though i do not want to comment on the music or the recording (which was done in a big dead room with 8' ceilings and a horrendous red carpet), i can say confidently that it is a unique and brave experiment. I will be happy to send you the cd if you give me an address.

respect,

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 07:05
peshkar wrote: [quote=Moke]
This is [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.shakuhac…"]T.M. Hoffman Integral Asia[/]="http://www.shakuhac…"]T.M. Hoffman Integral Asia[/], a crossover blending of japanese, indian and perisan traditional music.
Nice coincidence here, Mike... I have met Tim in India many years ago, and Abhijit (the Tabla player) is a good friend, too... Would really like to hear that one... Guess these are private recordings, not release material, are they?

Regards,
Daniel
that is tight!

yes, this is a private recording.
the bulk of my work is privately held by the ensembles that I work with. I do have a few obscure recordings that the ensembles sell at their performances, but, nothing of particular note.

kavichandran wrote:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:51 am Post subject:
Dear Mike, You should give yourself much more credit! Often it is the "Wonderbread Americana" lad who "gets it"! As you come with an open mind, one not burdened with prejudices and preconcived notions. No Loui Vitton designer baggage, lugged by porters and coolies walking behind you, carrying the stuff on their heads! Often the natives think they "Know", simply because they happen to be born into a perticuler ethnic group. Attened an Indian concet where the PA is in the hands of one of these all knowing pundits, if you want proof!
It is no accident that some of Dr. Ali Akbar Khan's most ardent students are Gringos! Same goes for Ustad Zia Mohinuddin Dagar. Nancy Leah is a case in point. She plays Drupad on the cello! She was good enough in the eyes of her guru, to allow her to play with him on stage. How come no Indian ever thought of playing the cello, the Western instrument most suited for Indian music? I am sure a similer reality prevails in the Persian diaspora.
Anyway, remember this sacred work of ours is a Calling! You are called to it. Your are indeed blessed.
I love Persian music as I do the food and the dark eyed ladies. Do you see their reflections in your mike stand?!
All the very best. KAVI.

Attened an Indian concet where the PA is in the hands of one of these all knowing pundits, if you want proof!

I'm not sure I follow you here. please clarify.

If by this, you mean blown mixes by people that should know their stuff, then, yes, I've seen that in any number of arenas of live amplified music. I was a little disappointed in the recent Ravi Shankar concert tour mix, in that, the tabla was all tap, tap, and no blorp.

In contrast to that tap-tap-no_blorp tabla mix, are the tablas from my Integral Asia recording. You get the tap tap, and then this glorious blossoming blorp that develops slowly, and then it envelopes the entire room in its massive warmness, along with the whole decay cycle leading into the next impulse.
My friend and I received lots of warm reviews for our mix of Integral Asia. We had audience members thank us aat set break, and afterwards. The head of the World Music Center was raving up our efforts on that particular mix.
We had a funky Peavey "speakers on a stick" pa, with Samson mics for the mix, and a Behringer mixer. But given that we used the PA for support of the quietest players, and let the voices of the loudest players carry themselves, the recorded ambient blending sounded quite nice.

So, am I following you in your comments?

kavichandran wrote:

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:46 pm Post subject:
Dear Mike, I forgot to include this my last post: in your reply you had mentioned "Deadhead". Well, there is no doubt that amoung all the rock bands, the Dead cared the most about sound. No one, not the Beatles nor the Rolling Stones (who both made far more money) spent the time, effort and money like the Dead did. For this alone they get into Audio Vikuntha!!!
The man most responsible for all of that, including the "Wall of Sound", their in house guru, The Bear, made a recording titled "Old and in the Way". It had fantastic sound and great playing. Some young turks (Garcia/Grissman) playing with the Elders (Vasser Clemants). My point here is that this great recording was done with EV dynamic mikes!!! (Recorder was a Nagra IV-S).
No tweeks, no tricks. From this it is clear that one need not have the exotic tube mike, modified by some con artist claiming other worldly performence!
I have always enjoyed "American Beauty" and "Working Man's Dead", both for the sound and the music, although the Bear may not have had anythig to do with the sound on these.
The editor of Mix is to soon release a book that will deal with the Dead and the evolution of their sound systems.
Keep on Trucking... KAVI.

Old and in the Way sits right next to A Meeting by the River as two of my favorite "commerical" recordings of all time.
I'm a die-hard ambient recording enthusiast, plain and simple.
There are few people out there that can capture so much with so little. To those few, yourself being one, I hold high admiration. There is something just so much more pure about the straight wire approach. Once you get it, its hard to go back and listen to mixed music. Some people can get the magic right in mixed music, but I find so much more enjoyment in simplicity.

Kavi, many thanks to you for your time, and insights, once again (and everyone else).
truly appreciated.

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 07/19/2006 - 05:57
Mr. Alexander has declined to post here, but has offered me this information, for the benefit of all who are interested, which I accepted, most graciously.
(used with permission)



"When it comes to recordings of the non Western classical traditions, I think David. B. Jones has to ranked at the very top. He is the one who did the Connoisseur Society (their technical "guru" was Bela Bartok's son Peter!) recordings of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, the greatest living Indian musician. Jones also did some of the Nonesuch recordings as well (thereally good ones) employing the same Sony tube mikes he used to
record Dr. Khan. Check out the Ramnad Krishnan title on Nonesuch.
There are also many, many Indian EMI recordings that are truly superlative. Mostly it was the vinyl that was dismal (even this,they
got it right at times!), but the recordings themselves, mostly
were good and sometimes outstanding. Simple mike techniques and tube electronics did the trick. I have a Malika Arjun Mansoor recording that is at the top of the list. So is the M.S. Subbulakshmi boxed set of LPs recorded "live" at a UN gala for UThant. In spite of the most embarrassing and hideouly ugly song in English (!) by Indial politician Rajaji, these LPs capture the queen in all her glory. Then, there are the many Yugal Bandi
recordings. The first one is of course the original Bismillah Khan/
Vilayat Khan pairing. This great recording was produced by Suviraj
Grubb,the only Indian to ever produce Western classical recordings. He
replacedWalter Legge at EMI as the principal producer and worked with all thegreats, from Barenboim, Zukerman, Perlman and Du Pre to Barbirolli,
Richter, Fischer-Dieskau and Klemperer. I must also mention the V.G.
Jog and Bismillah pairing which is also great. The recording of Lalgudi
Jayaraman and N. Ramani titled "Violin, Venu, Veena" also tops the
list. Some good recordings were also released on the Swedish label
Amigo (two of Nikil Banerjee and one each of Amjad Ali Khan and Ram
Narayan) while Sonet put out the most beatiful yugal bandi recording with
Shivkumar and Hariprasad.


The German label Loft, amoung other titles, released an excellent double lp of the junior Dagar Brothers, and the French label Still, which along with a surbahar recording of Imrat Khan,
has released the only recordings (two LP boxed sets) worth having,
of the Karnatic legend T.R. Mahalingam. The other two recordings of Mali, on Indian EMI, are truly horrid. Taking of French labels, two outstanding recordings of Zia Mohinudinn Dager (Rudra vina) on Alvares and Auvidis
respectively. The later also released a good recording of the junior Dagar Brothers. Another label called ESP put out ten or so recordings, of which there is a Hari Prasad that is wonderfull, as is the one of Fariduddin Dagar (vocalist brother of Zia). Their recording of the Bauls, though of a lesser crew than the Purnadas (the very same man on the cover of Dylan's "John Wesly Harding" album) outfit on Nonesuch, Electra and Buddah, sonicaly is
the best. Barclay (a jazz label started by the beautiful Nicole Barclay) too, released two recordings of Nagaswara Rao (vina), the same artist on Nonesuch, as did French CBS, a recording of Emani Shankar Shastry. Another French woman started Shandar that released a
great recording of Pandit Pran Nath, as well as Terry Reily's "Persian SurgeryDervishes". Arion released a very good recording of D.K. Pattamal, while Vogue has an outstanding recording of Parapancham Sita Ram (Karnatic flute) with Guruvayur Dorai on mirdangam.




Chante du Monde has a very fine
collection of Flamenco with great masters such as Pepe de la Metrona, with equally great sound. Andre Charlin made not just great speakers (electrostatic/dynamic hybrids) and amps (tube and solid state) but also truly great recordings, though most of them were of Western
Classical music. He did however do a Koto (like Cook) recording for Kenwood (yes, the ones who made one of the greatest turntables, the LO7D). I have a feeling that Charlin was responsible (or at least
partly) for the ORTF technique. Having mentioned France, Icertainly
must mention the great Indologist Alain Danielou, who edited the
wonderful UNESCO collection of recordings. Though the sound on many of
these is rather poor, having been done by some "ethnomusicologist"
with a cassette recorder and mikes with wind screens, two recordings do stand out. They are the LP of the Dagar Brothers (Sr) and a Karnatic
compilation with vocal tracks by Semanguddi Srinivasa Iyar. Though these recordings are in mono, the sound and performance, are out of this world!
Danielou introduced the Dager Brothers to the West in the early 60s. I have heard that Nadia Boulanger, the great Parisian music teacher, after hearing the Dagar Brothers remarked "This is real music! We have been wasting our time!".


Last but not least, there is the French Ocora catalog, a treasure
to ransom a king, with many, many outstanding recordings of the most
exotic music. Check out the Munir Bashir (Oud) recording or the
Emani Shankar Shastry (vina) recording with Madras Kannan on mirdangam! I also have a Portuguese EMI recording of Amilia Rodriguez
that is outstanding.
From the UK, Tangent had a steady out put including a collection of music from Ethiopia, as well the "Music from the World of Islam" boxed set. But, Tangent never had truly great sound. Speaking
of UK, I must mention the Hannibal recording of Nazakat and Salamat Ali, which is good. Another forgotten hero is Ron Marlo of Chess. Listen to the Muddy Waters "Folk Singer" LP and the "live" Ahmed Jamal LP titled
"Alhambra". Emory Cook is another great who has also been forgotten. Way back in the 50s, he was releasing recordings of the Tarahumara Indian (the very ones Antonin Artaud "visited") peyote chants, as well
as Hindu temple music from the Caribbean!!! Richard Bock of World Pacific
also released great recordings, one in particular is the "live" recording of
vina vidwan S. Balachander with N. Ramani. So is the recording
of Brij Bhushan Kabra.



Jones, Malo, Cook, Bock, Danielou and Grubb, these are the men that I respect and hold in high esteem. They wrote the ground rules and charted the way and made it possible for the likes of me. The rest, including myself,
are like the blind men with the elephant in a dark room! Groping in the dark, stumbling
into mike stands, tripping over cables, spilling hot tea onto the
tapes...
and splitting hairs over the purity of the copper (or silver!) in the
mike
cables or the brand of tubes used!
The little I know, I learnt from listening to the recordings listed
above
and following carefully the works of the masters mentioned, who were my
inspiration. To them I offer my gratitude.
Kavi Alexander.. "

rfreez Tue, 07/25/2006 - 09:40

Attened an Indian concet where the PA is in the hands of one of these all knowing pundits, if you want proof!


I'm not sure I follow you here. please clarify.

moke, i am not kavi but have a lot of experience with this.

can you imagine a close mic'd violin to which the PA guy has added 12 dB of high shelf eq from a cheap mixer? And then deals with the feedback by reducing monitor levels till the artistes cannot hear themselves anymore, and the reflected sound from the bloody loud house PA gets too confusing for the them...(there are no foh and monitor mixes here in chennai... if you are lucky, the monitor levels come from an aux send, but mostly its just a parallel out of the house 'mix'). I could go on about this (its more ridiculous than you can imagine) because my recordings suffer for all of this and there is a lot of restrained frustration, as i pay for mistakes beyond my control.

And when i make a suggestion (i am only the recording engineer at the venues, i don't handle PA) these guys tell me "i have been doing this for 20 years... mind your own business, you do your job, i do mine".

i guess this is what kavi meant.

respect,

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 17:05
Fellow travellers: Not exactly. Let me explain... I have never recorded amplified concerts, but with one exception. The only Water Lily recording ever done of an amplified concert was the very first recording of Dr. Ali Akbar Khan, the very first Water Lily release. All the other recordings since, stemm from sessions that were under my full control and thus properly executed in terms of my priorities. (My last three classical releases done in Russia were however of concerts, but being concerts of classical music, of course they were unamplified).
What I was reffering to was the busy body (and there is always one around!), an Indian (substitute the ethnic type you deal with) with very good qualifications, mostly with a PhD and often in the sciences, who as his "contribution" to the good cause, "comandeers" the role of "sound man"!!!
This know nothing (when it comes to sound) will then proceed to destroy what could have been a magnificent evening of music making of a high order.
This type is too arrogent to learn and besides in his mind he already "knows" all there to know about sound! And of course being Indian (substitue your "main man" here), he also "knows" all about Indian music (substitute...) too!!!
Different (but related) beast than the one you have to tangle horns with. A pain in the you know what, nevertheless. This phenomenon, I belive happens only in countries that host large ethnic communities.
There should be a UN resolution passed banning the amplification of all acoustic music concerts in small venues!!!

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 18:54
kavichandran wrote:

Anyway, remember this sacred work of ours is a Calling! You are called to it. Your are indeed blessed.
I love Persian music as I do the food and the dark eyed ladies. Do you see their reflections in your mike stand?!
All the very best. KAVI.

I couldn't agree more, that it is a calling, and an obsession.
Touched might be a better term for it :D

The dark eyed ladies, with the jet-black hair?
They are some of the most exquisitely beautiful women in the world!
I'm blown away every time.
Definitely, yes!

I just finished four days of a persian ensemble tour, earlier this month. The guys in the ensembles girlfriends are stunning.
Being a happily married guy of 28 years, I don't notice these things, of course! :lol:

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 19:00
Refreez, you say you are not Kavi, but are you sure?! I am hearing (what did you say?!) reports from my field agents (sent out to find vintage tube gear cheep), that you/I (maybe it is Rick Rubin!) were seen in the Madurai Meenakshi temple recording onto a one inch, tube two-track!!! Please let me know if this is true. Maybe it is Karaikuddi Mani pretending to be me!
All kidding aside, thank you very much for offering to send me the CD, but as you know, I do not listen to CDs. I appreciate very much the thought though.
I think I am correct in saying that Kunnakuddi never came to the US in the last 15 years. Damn pitty, as I would have loved to record him. He was the "Mahavishnu Orchestra" of Karnatic music! Is the son still playing Karnatic music on the cello?
Why not try to find one of the "old guard" from EMI and interview him for all of us? I am sure some of those guys are still around. This would be a great service to us all.
The S. Balachander 10 LP boxed set is another must have jem. He did all the 72 melakartha ragams on this monumental work. The cover of one of these LP showes him being recorded with a single Neumann mike (tube?). The mixer has rotary knobs! The back cover shows him listening to playback, seated in front of what could only be an EMI BTR recorder!!! The monitors seem to have oval dual concentric drivers!
By the way, I know nothing about PAs nor multi track recording for that matter, NEVER having ever recorded with more than two mikes. I never go down to Mordor (Madurai yes!). I am happy and safe in Middle Earth, drinkng my ale and smoking my pipe...
A few of the Chembai Bagavathar LPs too have good sound. What a voice! The Sirkali Govindarajan LPs too, mostly had good sound. I love the LP on which he sings Arunagirinathar's "Kandar Alangaram"! Another great voice! The Oriental Records release of Govindarajan "Live" (from the New York Town Hall) boxed set is great too. Although the Oriental sound tended to be decent at best, having been recorded mostly in "low rent" studios, they however released a wealth of great music. Also worth getting are the two with Mani and his brother L.Shankar, both performing with Semmankuddi Srinivas Iyar. The doyan of Karnatic music is old, but still delivers the goods. On the LP with Shankar, there is the added attraction of Palkatt Mani Iyar on mridangam!
The very best. KAVI.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 19:28
kavichandran wrote: Fellow travellers: Not exactly. Let me explain... I have never recorded amplified concerts, but with one exception. The only Water Lily recording ever done of an amplified concert was the very first recording of Dr. Ali Akbar Khan, the very first Water Lily release. All the other recordings since, stemm from sessions that were under my full control and thus properly executed in terms of my priorities. (My last three classical releases done in Russia were however of concerts, but being concerts of classical music, of course they were unamplified).
What I was reffering to was the busy body (and there is always one around!), an Indian (substitute the ethnic type you deal with) with very good qualifications, mostly with a PhD and often in the sciences, who as his "contribution" to the good cause, "comandeers" the role of "sound man"!!!
This know nothing (when it comes to sound) will then proceed to destroy what could have been a magnificent evening of music making of a high order.
This type is too arrogent to learn and besides in his mind he already "knows" all there to know about sound! And of course being Indian (substitue your "main man" here), he also "knows" all about Indian music (substitute...) too!!!
Different (but related) beast than the one you have to tangle horns with. A pain in the you know what, nevertheless. This phenomenon, I belive happens only in countries that host large ethnic communities.
There should be a UN resolution passed banning the amplification of all acoustic music concerts in small venues!!!

in my previous post, I mentioned a recent 4 days of gigs with a persian classical ensemble.
You could not possibly have described the circumstance any better.
The guy whose PA rig was used, came, loaded-in, soundchecked, then had to leave, with some sort of emergency.
He left his son to run the PA. His son being a musician (bass player), and a persian musician himself, had a good grasp on the mix. He was also assisted in achieving the mix by the players themselves, going out into the seating, and listening, and making adjustments.
The son was immediately overridden minutes before the concert by the "same person" that you've so faithfully described.
This guy, who I believe to be a doctor (seriously!), turned up the vocals in the mix so loud, that it turned into this explosive blast with each note sung. Just overwhelming, and immediately fatiguing.
He then proceeded to unpan everything in the mix and bring it all to center, and turned everything else up to try to match the new vocal level.

OK,......
This is in the Neurosciences Institute Auditorium, which is one of the finest small acoustic halls in the nation, if not the world. No PA was probably needed, but, they set it up, and used it (we've done so in the past with great results).
His centering of all players cancelled out any natural placement of the players in the recording, and actually successfully introduced a good amount of phase cancellation to the room, muddying the living daylights out of the sound, except the vocals (visions of the Maxell ad guy).

I've met "the guy" that you talk about quite recently.
I've got to thank him though, as his blaring vocals caused a conversation with one of those dark eyed beauties, which you eluded to earlier. She was asking why the mix was so off, and I had to clarify my position as recordist and not mix-man, which took a while (speaking slowly,.... stretching... t h e... m o m e n t.......)

again, in contrast,....
the middle two shows of this run were back to back nights at the same theatre.
I arrived during soundcheck of the first night, and met the soundman, Sergei, a russian immigrant.
Sergei was a hired hand along with the PA rental, and a damn fine mixer, but, he'd never heard the first note of persian music.
He had the mix dialed, but had it all panned to center.
He asked me what I thought of the mix, and I mentioned having the players panned in the mix, to match the stage, as being a rare treat in this genre.
He rearranged his panning settings, and came to a wonderfully mixed, stage matching mix, and spaced sound image. He also made sure to keep the levels low enough that you could actually hear the players real acoustic instrument voices.

He was blown away enough with the first night, that the next night, he came and did his own multichannel recording with ambient mics, and a board feed, matrix.

:ends rambling:

:starts rambling again:

Kavi wrote: By the way, I know nothing about PAs nor multi track recording for that matter, NEVER having ever recorded with more than two mikes. I never go down to Mordor (Madurai yes!). I am happy and safe in Middle Earth, drinkng my ale and smoking my pipe...

I know nothing of mixing, or multichannel work either.
I've got two ears. Two mics are all I need.

/rambling

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 21:15
Dear Daniel, Are you aware of the French Playa Sound Drupad recording of Ram Chattur Malaik? A very different Gharana and style to that of the Dagarvani school. Though I prefer the Dagarvani Gharana, this recording is worth having.
The lable Wergo that you mention was the one that Peter Panke was connected to.
Another rare Swedish recording I forgot to mention, is another of Zia Mohinuddin Dagar playing SITAR!!! As you know, Zia played a custom bin, with a teak neck instead of the customary bamboo. The Shiva/Shamkya/Tantric rules that govern the making of bins or Rudra vinas are very, very strict. I have heard that Hayman, the Stradivari of Indian instumant makers, did not like making Rudra vinas due to all the fasts and purification rites he had to perform! Thus, it takes a very long time to make one of these great instruments. It is perhaps while Zia was having his custom vina made that he played the sitar. The LP is from a label called MNW and was recorded in Bombay by Bent Beger, the same man who recorded the very beautiful recording mentioned in my first post, on Alvares.
The best... KAVI.

rfreez Tue, 07/25/2006 - 22:23
hello kavi

thank you for the musical references... i don't mean to rant, but i really wish it were easy to go out and get these recordings. I have a humble old suitcase type garrard lp player and i try to find enough material for it... but the second hand lps that i can find are so miserably worn out that its very hard to focus on the music, but i do have a few gems including EMI's recordings of madurai somu and ml vasantha kumari. CD releases too are of varying quality... i feel cheated when i spend my hard saved money on piece of crap recordings and/or transfers.

speaking of kunnakudi, i really enjoy his bombastic style, his stage presence and his singular desire to give audiences a good time.... but he seems to have come to extreme disfavour with traditional audiences for the exact same reasons. Sometimes i think the 'eliteness' of the music is taken so seriously that it is considered disrespectful to just have a rowdy good time.

speaking of doctors... there is a doctor friend (i forget his name) of yours, who follows your recording ideals, with whom i was briefly in touch. If i remember correctly, he said that you have done a recording for him? Has he done any carnatic vocal stuff?

karaikudi mani is a favourite mridangam player. Its a pleasure to watch his extreme discipline, his straight back and his precise strokes. I regret that i have not recorded him (he plays for very few people, only sanjay subramaniam as far as i know). I have recorded other masters however... including paalghat raghu, guruvayur dorai, tv gopalakrishnan... and if i may be permitted to indulge in a bit of cheeky humour... i must say it could get pretty confusing if karaikudi mani, you and rick rubin were in the same room, but then it would prove conclusively that you are not all the same person :)

cheers!

rfreez Thu, 07/20/2006 - 03:50
hello simmosonic

Your post has been here for a while now, unanswered, so I thought I'd give it a go.
thank you simmosonic... i had almost given up checking here for a reply :) this group is moving a little slowly... really hope it would pick up as theres nothing out there that aims to do what this does.

I'm curious about your definition of 'purist'...

what a coincidence! so am i! but seriously... i don't know anymore. my interest in this scene literally started with listening to waterlily/kavi alexander's work. and following his methodology, i was (am) looking looking for a two mic coincident setup. But i am getting increasingly worried that it would not serve the music well. In his catalogue, theres no real equivalent of the particular music i want to record... (tho' thats the sound i am going for). Currently i am interested in recording only carnatic (vocal-centric) trios and quartets, and i have two main problems, both of which you already sympathise with:

1. the percussion instruments can easily dominate the vocal and
2. the singer frequently sways in all four directions plus a fair bit of movement along the vertical axis as well.

the third thing that gets in the way of many possible coincident solutions that i personally have decided to never compromise on sight lines. The music is severely improvised and according to me, proximity and sight lines are more important than a bit of audio quality.

coming back to what i mean by 'purist'... once again, i really don't know. duh. Let me put it this way... maximum possible music appreciation potential for the listener, using minimum amount of technology over the process of producing the music. So i don't mean it in a necessarily audiophile sense... but thats where it seems (seemed?) to be heading.

With a 3rd world budget, I assume you are referring to simplicity, rather than having custom-made tube equipment and so on.

let me be straight here... i mean about $6000... and you know its quite a lot in this sub continent. $6000 will buy me a stereo pair of akg c414 xls or similar, a metric halo uln-2, a macbook, a mic stand, a couple of cables and a pair of headphones.

now if i have to go 4 mics, they will be something like peluso cemc6 with various capsules (poor man's schoeps), an rme fireface, a pc laptop and accessories. Already there are compromises i'd rather not make.

if i have to go more than four mics... i'll just take a break now and get back to this when i'm financially ready.

Using EQ has always been a no-no for the purist, but with linear phase EQ I don't think there is any problem.
I agree that linear phase eq sounds quite natural if used judiciously (i use waves for my regular work) and i don't mind it at all, as long as the basic sound without the eq is fine... the eq should add only a little something, not be a major part of the sound.


But, from the position of the stereo microphone rig shown in your illustration, I am assuming the musicians are all facing the front. In which case, an omni M capsule probably isn't a good choice.
Sorry, my illustration was not accurate. The violin (not sarangi!) player and the mrithangam player are facing each other, both are at right angles to the singer and ancillary percussion and drone sit between the singer and mrithangist and singer and violinist respectively.

Whoever said "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" wasn't using a big enough stick.
thats a funny one. but in this case, all i am is a reasonably well connected guy with the respect of a few top musicians. If and when my project takes off, i'll be using all my influence and brownie points that i have earned through years of work, to get the big masters of the music just to work on my project. I will have to be servile and humble and obedient... i won't be whacking no old dogs with big sticks :)

well, what the heck, by this time I was dancing around the fire with the other women, having moved the Nagra and microphone rig back to make more room...

that was a very funny story :) i can just picture it in my head :) about the nagra... after my chat with kavi about two years ago i had wanted to go down the nagra/stellavox route... the thing that made me change my mind is the necessity of changing tapes every half hour or so... some of the pieces i record extend well into the hour (i remember one that was an hour and 53 minutes long... the longest i have recorded). And the bulk of tapes in such a remote place.... how do YOU manage?

Is a stereo pair enough? Crikey! You're only recording three instruments... If you add a spot microphone you'll have three microphones. Maybe you could close mic each instrument and throw your purist intentions out the window!

well.. if its three mics that will get the job done i'll go with three, its 18 mics, i'll go with 18. I just want to use the minimum number of mics that will give me a wholesome, natural and balanced sense of the music. So again, i think i do my intentions more harm than good by using the word 'purist'. I take that back :)

In other words, a good volume balance but a poor depth balance.

now this is a can of worms i had not opened before. i guess now that only if the music is naturally acoustically balanced are there any obvious 2 microphone solutions...

It might be wise to invest in a matched pair of microphones that offer switched polar response (omni, cardioid, bidirectional). Then you can do *any* stereo technique you need to. A matched pair of AKG 414s might be a good choice from this point of view...
thank you... it does seem to be the best option. i guess theres no getting away from the trial and error method, with as many options as i can afford. Only... if i put my 6K into a C414 stereo pair rig, and find out that i am not able to make the music translate well, what will i do? I won't have money to buy more mics, pres etc and i won't be happy enough with my work... I know this is a question nobody can answer... i'm just ranting.

Once again simmosonic, thanks a ton for taking the time ang good luck with you injuries. Next time you're at a nepali ethnic party, have an extra drink for me :)

cheers!

rfreez.

DavidSpearritt Thu, 07/20/2006 - 04:01
What a great thread. I sure hope the software admin doesn't do another cleanup and delete these posts. I am going to copy this content out just in case. Thanks Simmo, Teddy and rfreez for these excellent posts.

Simmo have you got that red lentil curry recipe for me yet? Try and get it when you are not nudging the turps as well, please. :)

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 07/25/2006 - 23:38
Dear Rfreez, I am happy that you took my humor in right and lite spirit! Thank you. The doctors name is Kumar Chockalingam and yes, I did record Nayvali with violin and mridangam, as well as an outstanding Bengali mandolin player with sarangi and tabla. I used his Coles 4038s in the Blumlein set up, feeding a Sonosax pre amp, into a Tascam DSD recorder. He has also a recording of Chitti Babu done in a studio in NJ, but with just two mikes employed and onto analog tape. Very likely, the last recording of the master. Kumar will be starting his lable soon.
Yes, I was well aware of the fact that the snobs in Madras "disappoved" of Kunnakuddi and his rock $ roll style of playing. It is indeed sad when things like this happen.
By the way, some years back, when I still had my hair and beard long, I was indeed mistaken for Karraikuddi Mani by some South Indians!!! It was at a concert and I was wearing my traditional clothes and was looking every bit the Tamil that I am.
The very best. KAVI.

rfreez Thu, 07/20/2006 - 06:20
teddy bullard

this ones for you! thanks very much for the kavi alexander info. heres an article you might enjoy...

http://www.stereophile.com/interviews/527/index.html

those Beveridge electrostatic speakers of kavi's seem to cost $65000! I cannot even imagine so much money... three wholesome meals cost me about $1 here.

kavi has moved to digital and solid state. i can't believe it. Through the 80s and everything, when folks were terribly impressed with digital 'fidelity' and low noise floor and whatever, this man and his friend tim paravicini were shouting out for analog... paravicini has more recently said that 192 Khz is a joke! and now this! there is a saying in my language which goes 'even if the lion is starving, he will never eat grass'. (sorry... i could'nt help it :)) Don't get me wrong... he still remains one of my heroes. He offers a wealth of precious information saluting his gurus instead of blowing his own trumpet. But its sad (for the world of tubes and tape...not music itself... i'm sure he'll make equally fine records in digital) that his sworn allegance to the old way has to be compromised for practical (and very good) reasons.

btw... anybody else feels that there is an uncanny similarity between kavi and his pop counterpart, rick rubin? the spirituality and poetry, the big beard, the love of analog....

with gratitude,
rfreez.

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 07/26/2006 - 08:11
Kavi, and ALL......

a slight topic highjack coming.......

Do you have any thoughts in regard to baffled first-order cardioids, as a stereo pair, and baffled via a jecklin disc, or similar baffle?
I'm a longtime advocate of baffled omni's, and have wanted to try baffled cards for a long time. Whenever I'd have had an opportunity to try them, something came up that negated it.
I recently had an opportunity to record an 8 piece violin octet with harmonically voiced violins, (Dr. Carleen Hutchins violins, [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.hutchins…"]The Hutchins Consort[/]="http://www.hutchins…"]The Hutchins Consort[/]). This was the time I was waiting for, as it was in a bit of a "throw away" circumstance where experimentation was totally acceptable.

I'm curious about your thoughts, even if only based in theory.
I'll expand more, but I'm truly curious about your thoughts.

thanks
x