recording indian music trios

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by rfreez, Jul 5, 2006.

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  1. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Chennai, India
    Home Page:

    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 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.

  2. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    Your post has been here for a while now, unanswered, so I thought I'd give it a go.

    You are wanting to record Indian music trios using a minimalist and 'purist' approach, ideally with just two microphones. Given that information, I think the best person to answer your questions would be David Lewiston. He has had considerable experience recording music similar to that which you're recording, and he always uses two microphones. To the best of my knowledge, his rig consists of three different stereo miking options: an MS pair with cardioid M capsule, an XY pair of cardioids, and a pair of omnis. Considering the quality of his recordings, I would expect that the solution you seek lies with one of those rigs. David sometimes visits this forum, maybe he will chime in. Are you there, David?

    In his absence, I'll throw in some suggestions and anecdotes from my own experiences (see further down). I am currently in Nepal, where I have spent considerable time recording numerous types of seasonal, ritual and regional music. In fact, I am currently resting my legs in the lakeside town of Pokhara after a recording trek to a hillside village so far off the tourist and backpacker trail that I was the second white person to ever visit the place (and hence a great source of curiosity, especially when trying to wash my pale, skinny and hairy body!). Made some great recordings of women singing accompanied by mahdal (two headed drum that is strapped above the knees and played with the hands while sitting), flute and handclapping...

    Having a big room with a great natural reverb is a good start, especially if you intend on making purist recordings with no added reverb.

    Going off on a tangent here, I'm curious about your definition of 'purist'... Do you mean 'purist' as in simply using two microphones and recording direct-to-stereo, or do you mean 'purist' as in Chesky Records or, more appropriately to the music you are recording, Water Lily Acoustics?

    With a 3rd world budget, I assume you are referring to simplicity, rather than having custom-made tube equipment and so on. But I thought I'd refer you to Water Lily Acoustics anyway - if you don't already know of them, their recordings may provide some good references for you. They record a lot of Indian music, and use only a Blumlein pair in a good sounding room...

    That depends on your definition of 'thin'. If you mean lacking low frequncy body and power, it is important to remember that all directional microphones (basically, anything that isn't an omni) suffer from low frequency issues related to distance.

    Up close they suffer from proximity effect, which creates an exaggerated LF response. This effect is used in pop music to create a vocal sound that is bigger, fuller and more intimate than actually exists in real-life.

    At a distance they suffer from a LF rolloff, which can make things sound thin, especially if you're expecting to get that up-close vocal sound of popular music.

    At about 30cm away from a cardioid, the proximity effect and the LF rolloff tend to balance each other, and the LF response is flat. But that is rarely, if ever, the ideal position to capture the voice and the other instruments with a stereo microphone system. Usually the rig will need to be further from the voice than that...

    When recording direct-to-stereo indoors, the foremost priority is to get the right balance and sense of ensemble between the musicians, along with a good direct/reverberant ratio. If, after achieving that, the vocals (and/or the other instruments, for that matter) sound thin, then your only option is to apply some corrective EQ, chosen to complement the mic's natural LF rolloff. 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'm a very purist engineer at heart, but I am happy to use linear phase EQ because the benefits outweigh the degradations. I cannot say the same for standard EQ, however...

    An omni M capsule, when mixed with the S capsule at a 1:1 ratio, decodes to the equivalent of two cardioids back-to-back. It will have a 360 degree sound field and the only LF rolloff and proximity effect will be due to the S capsule. If the musicians are situated in a triangle as shown in your illustration and all facing each other, this could be a good choice. It will offer a lot of freedom of movement to achieve the right balance and ensemble, but it will also pick up a lot of room 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.

    For something like your illustrations, I'd be using an MS pair with cardioid M capsule, and moving the vocalist forward and the other instruments backwards. It looks like a simple set-up, really... I take your point about the musicians being old and set in their ways, but sometimes all you have to do is play them two comparitive recordings (one how they traditionally set-up, one how you'd prefer them to set-up) and they'll understand. Then, after a little bit of practice, they'll get used to it.

    For this kind of direct-to-stereo recording, you are faced with many factors that you cannot control. The positioning of the musicians is one of the few factors that you *can* control, so don't worry too much if they're set in their ways. Start pushing them around a little. Whoever said "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" wasn't using a big enough stick.

    This actually depends on which polar response you choose for the M capsule and where you place the musicians relative to it, because, when summed to mono, the M capsule is all you will hear...

    Depends on how far it is from the XY pair. According to your illustrations, the vocal will sound quite a bit more distant than the string instrument shown to the right (saranghi?), because the string instrument is considerably closer. Nothing you can do will change that, by the way, without either moving the sound sources or using a spot microphone. This is a problem we face from time to time with direct-to-stereo recording. We have two sounds, one is considerably louder than the other, so 'common sense' tells us to simply move it further away. In doing so, we might get a better balance in terms of volume, but now we have the problem that the louder instrument is too far away. In other words, a good volume balance but a poor depth balance.

    I was faced with a variation of this problem about four days ago while recording the women in the village mentioned at the start of this reply. The mahdal is quite a loud and dominating percussive instrument so I moved it behind the singers. Because the hut was small and not too reverberant (walls and floor made from pounded earth mixed with straw, I am guessing), it didn't sound too bad, and I thought I'd found a good solution. BUT, the problem was that the woman who played the mahdal was also leading the singing for the other women - and now she sounded too distant. If anything, she was supposed to be in front of the other voices, not behind them! In the end I settled on a three-part solution. Firstly, I arranged two of the singers so that they were sitting directly in front of the mahdal, with their backs absorbing some of its direct energy and blocking the direct paths from each end (where the skins are) to the microphone. Secondly, I sat the player on a small step so that her head was just above all the other singers, bringing her voice a bit more to the fore again. Thirdly, I experimented with the microphone height and position until it was in a modal null of the room, reducing the level of the mahdal's 'boom' even further but with no adverse affects on the voices. It worked well for the first hour or so. Then, because it was a village celebration rather than strictly a recording, we all got a bit intoxicated and things started to fall apart. Before I knew it, the mahdal player/lead singer was back on the floor in front of the other women, the mahdal was booming again and... 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, and the recording didn't seem to matter any more. The sobering moment came when my guide/porter placed the AA cells from the camera in the coals to warm them up (they were going flat) and one exploded, showering hot coals across the floor and burning the side of my right foot quite badly.

    (Hence, one of the reasons I am resting my legs here in Pokhara - I can hardly walk! Actually, I'm going through a very accident-prone phase at the moment - I twisted my left knee quite badly the second day in the village when I slipped going up a clay embankment to record some children in the village school. Then I burnt my right foot while dancing, and because of my twisted left knee I had to keep my weight on my right foot while trying to remove the hot coal which tended to just stick to the skin and burn away. The five hour descent down from the village to the 4WD a day or so later was hell! I had to keep my weight off my left knee, so my right foot was doing all the work - step down with the right foot, follow with the left, crabwalking the whole way. But I was trying to use one side of my right foot only, to avoid putting pressure on the burn. As a result, I developed a blister on the other side of my right foot, which continually took all of my downward momentum. Doh! So, I'm here in Pokhara keeping my feet up. But Punam, my beautiful Nepali wife-to-be, wants me to take her to the Hindu temple in the middle of Phewa Lake in about 30 minutes from now. How do we get there? Paddle boat...)

    But I'd do it all again, of course.

    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!

    But seriously, if you are able to move the musicians around a bit, you ought to be able to do a fine job with a single stereo pair. But this also assumes the vocalist is not playing an instrument.

    As for stability in the stereo image and anchoring the voice in the centre: the closer the vocalist gets to the stereo pair, the more sensitive the image becomes to movements of the singer. Most singers in these types of music tend to be sitting cross-legged on the floor and, consequently, rock side-to-side and/or back-and-forth while singing. The closer you get with a stereo pair, the more movement you will get.

    Another problem you might face is with singers who not only rock from side-to-side and back-and-forth, but who also tend to turn their head from side to side, rhythmically, while singing. This can be disastrous for any coincident technique, especially when up close and indoors, because the voice is continually going on- and off-axis and changing tone and reverberation accordingly. The solution for this problem is to use a pair of spaced microphones, probably omnis but cardioids would do. I have had this problem a few times while recording a Tibetan monk reciting mantras. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, looking down at the scriptures in his lap, he rocks from side to side and back to front, often turning his head left to right and back as he does it. Very difficult to capture with a coincident pair unless it is handheld so you can follow his mouth, in which case you find your elbow is etching a figure of eight in the air! (Um... no, a figure-of-eight response is not the solution to this problem.)

    I have made quite a few recordings of Newari ritual music in the Kahmandu valley, and the big problem with this type of music is that the lead vocalist, who leads all the other voices (which may number anywhere from a handful to a few dozen) also plays harmonium and therefore is sitting cross-legged on the floor and always looking down and leaning over the little keyboard (they pump it by hand) while singing. I can get a reasonable result using an MS pair positioned down low and facing upward, but I suspect the real solution is a spot microphone on his voice (probably a lavalier because he always rocks back and forth), blended in with a stereo pair. And, for this music, given a choice I'd probably use ORTF or a spaced pair of omnis for the stereo pair because, with an ensemble so large, a sense of 'bigness' is more important than pinpoint imaging. This will also let me adhere to the 3:1 rule for the moving spot microphone, minimising comb filtering problems.

    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...

    I hope this has been helpful.
  3. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    since Simmosonic mentioned waterlily, I thought id throw out this interview with man himself, Mr. Kavi Alexander.
  4. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    Great link, thanks Teddy! I am a great fan of Kavi Alexander's work and his philosophy of recording and have quite a few of his CDs in my collection. But I am very surprised to learn that he has moved to digital (as was the interviewer, by the look of it). The Alan Watt's quote that " is not clinging to a rock, faith is learning to swim" is gold.

    I am also pleased to read his reasons for moving on from his tube/tape system. They all make good sense. I had to make a similar decision some years ago when I decided to ditch my ribbon microphones, custom-made microphone preamps, Prism AD converter etc., in favour of a rig I could pack in a bag and carry with me. As much as I loved the sound of my older system, I have never looked back. In fact, the new rig opened many possibilities for me; hence, I am sitting in Pokhara, Nepal, after making a recording in a remote village with no AC.

    I am sure Kavi is going to produce a wealth of fantastic recordings now that he can go to directly to the musicians! It's a pity he's not on this forum to answer the questions that prompted this thread...
  5. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    I shot him an email, maybe he will respond??
  6. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    Some words of advice from David Lewiston (posted here with his permission):

    "When it's Indian classical (vina, sarod, sitar, etc + tabla/mrdangam) I like to use a crossed pair closer to soloist than drummer, say 1/3 to 1/4, with detail mics close in on the bridge of the stringed instrument and between the tabla pair, recorded to 744T tracks 3 & 4 so that I can do a mix later. Used this setup for Hindustani slide guitar, with the crossed pair overhead. Pleasing sound."

    To the best of my knowledge, David's XY pair contains Neumann KM84s...
  7. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    It would be interesting to compare his approach with David Lewiston's...
  8. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    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
    and splitting hairs over the purity of the copper (or silver!) in the
    cables or the brand of tubes used!
    The little I know, I learnt from listening to the recordings listed
    and following carefully the works of the masters mentioned, who were my
    inspiration. To them I offer my gratitude.
    Kavi Alexander.. "
  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
  10. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Chennai, India
    Home Page:
    hello simmosonic

    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.

    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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 :)
    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?
    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 :)
    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...
    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 :)


  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    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. :)
  12. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Chennai, India
    Home Page:
    teddy bullard

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

    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,
  13. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    Thanks much!!!Teddy

  14. TeddyBullard

    TeddyBullard Guest

    What is compromised?? His techniques are not compromised, his work is not. The move from tube/analog to solid state/digital is hardly a step backwards. I call it a giant step forwards, because now he can go anywhere he wishes without worrying about portability. More locales=More Kavi Alexander recordings=good thing. The old analog vs digital thing is so tired and overdone everywhere that It is hardly worth arguing about, but I love my Solid State gear. The Digital thing is a no brainer....evolution!

  15. kavichandran

    kavichandran Guest

    This is a responce to Rfreez. I belive it was around three years ago that you contacted me and requested imformation on recording Karnatic music, which was freely given. Now, you dare insult me?! You are a rank amateur with no credibility. You have yet to pay your dues. I do not suffer fools gladly nor will I tolarate nonsence form the likes of you. You need to learn your place and EARN your position.
    Yes, I rather be a lion which eats grass but remains a lion nevertheless, than a carrion eating hyena. Remember what Rumi said when questioned as to why he did not address his detractors. He simply replied "In time we will know... you have heard many stories that begin 'Once there was a lion...' but how many do you know that begin 'Once there was a jackal?'..."
    Kavi Alexander.
  16. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Chennai, India
    Home Page:
    dear kavi

    please accept my apologies. you are my main inspiration... your work has moved me from electronic music to what i am going for. in our conversation, you were very kind and generous with information, even though, as you correctly stated, i am a rank amateur with no credibility.

    please see that i said that i firmly believe that you will make great records no matter what be the medium. the lion and grass thing was not meant to be taken seriously... though in retrospect, i understand that it it was not in good taste.

    my gratitude and respect to you.

    it is sad however that rumi did not understand that "carrion eating hyenas" and "jackals" are also gods beautiful creatures and deserve no spite.
  17. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Chennai, India
    Home Page:
    teddybullard... you misunderstood me... i did use the word "compromised" but if you read my post again you will see that it had absolutely nothing to do with kavi's technique or work.

    a few careless words from my side has lead to all this hate. I must learn to be completely to the point henceforth.

  18. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:

    As one of the mods of this forum, let me extend a welcome.... Although you have words for Rfreez, there are also a lot of cool folks up here and we would be honored to have you around if you found the time for it.

  19. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005

    I am not a moderator or anything here, but I would like to second Ben's welcoming to this forum, and hope perhaps you'll contribute from time to time. So far, your direct and indirect contributions to this thread have been very informative.

    I also hope that perhaps there has been a misunderstanding between Rfreez and yourself; I did not interpret his words as being in any way disrespectful to you. But... perhaps there are cultural differences here with regard to the meanings and contexts of sayings from other cultures/languages?
  20. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    'Purist' has many definitions in the recording industry, but the one thing they all have in common is the use of simple recording paths and very few microphones; in which case it goes hand-in-hand with 'minimalist'. Less is more... I think this is especially the case with acoustic music, and even moreso with traditional forms of music that have been around for centuries and are, in their own way, highly evolved.

    Purist techniques work well for Western acoustic music such as string quartets and so on, because this music evolved for listening to. They can also work very well for other forms of acoustic music, but sometimes they don't.

    For me, the 'purist/minimalist' thing started with three labels: Reference Recordings, Water Lily and Chesky; I blew an entire $5k Amex card (still paying the damn thing off!) on amassing a great reference library from those labels during 1998 to 2000. Interestingly, the only recordings of those that I play now for listening enjoyment are the Water Lilys. I'll pull out a Chesky or a Reference Recordings disc on nerd nights for a bit of 'gee whiz' when I'm sitting with some audiophile friends around a nice pair of monitors, but apart from that they rarely get played.

    My interest in music from around the world can probably be traced back to David Lewiston's early recordings of Tibetan monks. I heard some of those when I was a teenager (ahem, back in the '70s) and the sound of that harmonic chanting has stuck with me ever since. I didn't even know what it was, back then, all I knew was that it was from Tibet and, in those days, all sorts of strange and wonderful things seemed to be coming from Tibet. It has now become 'export quality mysticism', but I digress...

    Here's the crux of the problem, and it presents quite a contradiction when trying to apply purist/minimalist recording philosophies: these 'musics' [apologies for a possibly pretentious word, but if Brian Eno and Jon Hassell can use it in an album title, I reckon it's okay] we are trying to record were never intended for recording - they serve very different functions. Some, such as the Nepalese stuff I mentioned in my previous post, is intended for dancing to or for summoning the people of the village, and there is no problem with very loud percussion when viewed in those contexts - in fact, it's a benefit. If there are only one or two vocalists then the percussion may be too loud from a recording/listening point of view, but in some cases there will be many vocalists, balancing or perhaps even dominating the percussion. For example, the Newari ritual music I have recorded in temples begins at about 6am with maybe three or four singers, but by the time it is finished a couple of hours later there are 30 or more locals sitting behind the musicians singing - they just come along and join in. When you get more than about 20 singers, it all falls into a nice balance from a recording/listening point of view. (When choosing my microphone position at about 5:30am, I have to keep this 'enlarging crowd effect' in mind. The best stuff is always when there are a lot of singers - some are sharp, some are flat, some are out of time, but all sing with such passion that I don't really mind.)

    If I had to record this music with just a handful of singers, I would probably have to use a spot microphone or two to do it justice from a listening point of view. Or else, find some way to reduce the level of the tabla and/or mahdal (try to find some good gaffer tape in Nepal!).

    I think it is fair to say that sometimes purity is not what we need! Rather, we need to create the *illusion* of purity.

    Right! This is actually a criticism of some of the audiophile labels, too. Sound quality takes precedence over performance quality. Putting the cart before the horse. Or the tiger in front of the goat.

    It is almost criminal to be spending that much on recording equipment in that economy!

    Sorry to be pedantic, but you will be better served with *two* mic stands (so you can do spaced pairs), and also, one good stereo bar that allows you set up your AKGs in ORTF, XY, MS, Blumlein, whatever. Then you have many options. But don't underestimate the cost of these things; *good* microphone stands and a *good* stereo bar cost a bit of money. It is worth it, however, because good mic stands and a good stereo bar are a pleasure to work with and allow you to get on with focusing on the music. If you buy cheap stuff, you will eventually tire of the frustrating fiddling and so on, replace it with better stuff and, in the long run, end up spending more money than you should have. So, buy it once and buy it properly (if possible).

    Having said that, don't forget that David Lewiston has made some great recordings of small ensembles by handholding two dynamic omnis!

    Yes... there are always compromises, unfortunately. But I see no real problem with using a PC laptop instead of a Mac, nor of using an RME instead of the Metric Halo.

    Would it be possible to shave some money by replacing the Mac with a PC, the Metric Halo with the RME, keep the AKGs and use the savings to get a third microphone for spotting?

    But... what about software? And microphone preamplifiers?

    Oh, okay. That changes things a bit. It pains me to say it, but perhaps you're going to need a spot mic on the vocalist. I reckon you ought to get by fine with three microphones - a matched pair (AKGs?) and a spot microphone just to bolster the voice. You will be able to move the instruments back and forth within reason to get their balance correct.

    Regarding the spot microphone for the voice, a bidirectional response may be a good choice here - especially if the vocalist is playing an instrument. You'll be able to use the null of the mic to minimise the spill of the instrument itself.

    Point taken.

    One hour and 53 minutes long? No problem! I have recorded rituals that go for almost three hours, non stop. How?

    My Nagra V is a digital machine with a removable 40GB USB2 hard drive [grin], which allows me to record about 17 hours of superb 24-bit 96k stereo audio. On battery power I can record *continously* (i.e. non-stop) for six hours. With stop and start recording, I get somewhere between 8 and 10 hours before needing to replace/recharge batteries. I turn it on, it works, problem solved, end of story. ;-)

    I think you will be well-served with three microphones: a stereo pair and a spot microphone. Perhaps a matched pair of AKG 414s and a Peluso with interchangeable polar responses for the spot microphone (often the spot microphone is not the dominant microphone in the mix, sometimes only a touch is needed to do the job). And for other situations, you will only need the AKGs.

    Sure! What's your poison? Here the choices are Roxy, Roxy, Roxy, Roxy and Roxy. Sometimes I can dig up some chang (Tibetan barley beer). Anything there to your liking?

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