Recording Violin: Richard Silvester

I recorded Richard Silvester early in the morning on the 17th April. I had never recorded I violinist before so I was looking forward to the experience. I began by arriving early and setting up the Neumann U87 in the live room. The Neumann works brilliantly at high frequencies so it should perform admirably during the session. However there was an issue straight away, all the fans were on and while it made the rooms more bearable it had a big impact on the signal being picked up by the microphones. I tried to alleviate the problem by pointing the mic directly away from the fan on a cardoid pattern. This cancelled out the effect of the fan to an extent but it still wasn’t ideal.

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I spoke to Craig to see if he could do anything about it but I was informed they didn’t control the fans and I’d have to speak to Estates about it. I phoned up estates and they said the fans had been requested to be turned on by a tutor so I spoke to the tech department again and they said they would sort it out as soon as possible. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be in time for the session so I had to push on regardless.

Richard arrived and I made sure he was comfortable and understood the process before I started getting levels. I also asked him to sign a musician waiver form, which he happily obliged to do.

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After this I asked if he would like to come through to the control room and practice with the songs in there so I could give him direct feedback. We would repeat this process for each song I had already sent him the songs but hadn’t heard what he had arranged. We started with Mason-Dixon Line and when Richard first started playing I actually found myself becoming quite emotional! I had put a lot of effort into this project and the song meant a lot to me, so to hear it played with a violin over the top was an amazing experience. However Richard was having some issues with tuning and stated that this might be an issue throughout, which did make me a little anxious but after a few adjustments we proceeded as we only had a small time frame. Richard got himself into a comfortable playing position and I put on the headphones and positioned the mic appropriately to where I thought the violin sounded best. This placement was also based on my research, where I found that:

‘The mic should be aimed at the sound board or top of the instrument, which in the case of a violin held normally means positioning the mic on a tall stand above the player directed down towards the violin’ (White, 2012)

This is shown in my microphone placement below.

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I felt that the violin sounded great throughout the recordings but unfortunately, tuning was a consistent issue. It will be difficult to save these recordings but I will try my best in the mixing stage. However I thoroughly enjoyed the session and I have learnt a lot from recording an instrument I have never approached before.

Here are some pictures from the session:

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Here is the sheet for this recording session:

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References:

White, P. (2012). The Producer’s Manual. London: Sample Magic.

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