modern VS baroque instruments

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Exsultavit, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Jan 5, 2005
    I have been blessed with clients from both camps, and have found that each kind of instrumentation has it's own advantages and disadvantages. I'd love to see if folks on this forum would like to discuss!

    IMO, a good modern orchestra in a hall appropriate to the material they are playing might need no more than 2 mics to get it ALL! Admittedly, this is a relatively rare occurence, but it bears testimony that all the little changes to orchestral instruments over the last 200 years have combined to give us a generally better balance.

    Unfortunately, once one includes a choir and vocal soloists, the orch often seems too loud (IMO). Which brings me neatly to the baroque instrumentation...

    I really enjoy the old inst designs if for no other reason than that the baroque orchestra is generally smaller and the instruments quieter. This helps them not to overpower singers. Besides that, singers in this style generally are quieter too, so they need the smaller orch all the more. OTOH, baroque flute is so quiet that I consider it a constant problem.

    are there any others here with opinions on this? I'd love to hear from you!

  2. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Jan 5, 2005
    What- no interest?

  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    What you say is correct. Did you want more comment than that? :D
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    I've been giving this some thought, and am choosing my words carefully on this one, Exultavit....

    I've got two very excellent "Small" ensembles that I do work for, one of them is specifically a Baroque Chamber Orchestra. They are amazing musicians, and extremely talented in all they do. They are fairly self contained, and work very methodically, close knit.

    It's indeed quite a challenge to get it right. (And I'm finding what I consider "Right" isn't what they're used to....) They play very beautiful stuff, but it's very exposed and there's no "Safety in Numbers" as with larger ensembles. For years and years, they have been happy (For archival recordings) with very ambient, stereo mic recordings, usually done (IMHO) too far back in the hall. The result, to my taste, is a watery, non-defined mish-mash of audience noise vs. actual music. It is truly a too-perfect represenation of a "middle of the audience" recording sometimes.

    I of course don't want to overdo it (and put up a ridiculous amount of individual mics for 5-6 players) but I do want to capture the details as well as the sound of the church. (They rotate between three venues for each concert gets dicey.)

    They often have a soloist smack dab in the front, either a recorder player or a singer (lately it's been Julianne Baird - one of the most of the most-recorded sopranos in the business, they say) So, it's always a careful blend of omnis, two side cardioids (odd, but it works in this case) and a solo mic on a short stand right in front.

    We're still working on the best blend of sound overall based on all three different venues, but it's like herding cats or grabbing an eel..... They're still learning my approach (including temp, non-finished product) vs. final polished mixes with reverb, ambience, etc. Very often we make composites, so it's tricky deciding WHEN to add any effects or changes, and keeping them informed of the process. Someday ideally, I'd rather record them with NO audience present in the best of the three venues as a session instead of a concert. Oh yeah, and it's all on a very limited budget, of course.

    Tricky, indeed.
  5. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    I agree with you on the difference in the orchestra.

    Playing the trombone, I can say that the instruments changed a lot towards the end of the 1940-s. Up to that time, most European (especially the British) symphony orchestras, used rather small instruments. The bass trombone at that time generally was the G-bass. After that time instruments became larger, more powerful. A different sound mostly influenced by the American ideals and a few touring american orchestras.

    The balance changed quite a lot and to my ears the trombones now generally do not sound the way they were intended to. I think that the ff and above where meant to "break up" into that brass sound. Playing up to "breaking up" on modern symphony trombones (jazz is a bit different) makes the trombones way to strong.

    A few ensembles try to play music more on the "original" type of instruments, whatever period that could be. And sometimes the result sound spectacular to me on records, sometimes they are simply overdoing it.

    But your point about modern instruments beeing too strong I agree on.

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