Archive for November, 2008

November 17, 2008

A quick post here for people who have been asking me what tuning I use.  On The Bright Knowledge it’s Young temperament A=440.  With Deepak I use equal temperament A=444.


Review of 19th Festival of Harps
November 15, 2008

Recording thoughts
November 13, 2008

The recording process is such an intense, personal and intricate one, I thought I’d put down some of my current findings on the subject.

These days editing possibilities are practically limitless – a new program has just been released that can retune notes WITHIN a chord without disturbing the others.  And everything leading up to that can be reworked too.  On my first CD, Panta Rhei, I did a lot of editing, basically tortured my engineer James Boblak.  I felt since I had the power to make things “perfect,” why not to do?

Fast forward to The Bright Knowledge, where I took almost the opposite tack.  I’ve come to believe music is not just something we do, but something we channel, that it’s not just us playing but something greater is participating as well.  To interfere with that by chopping a piece into small bits and sticking them back together suddenly seemed like snubbing the muse and ignoring the collective consciousness.

So, many of the pieces on BK were recorded straight through, and much of the ensemble work was done with everyone playing in the same booth, much to my engineer Jim Helman’s surprise and amusement (it’s a tight fit – we set a record for 4 people all in on Yishru).  I wanted the personal interaction to be very live and close, plus the instruments to play off each other – you can hear the violin or voices ringing inside the harp, something I would have lost had I been isolated.  I wanted the human element to be very present, especially given the subject matter of most of the material, and the idea of little imperfections actually creating greater beauty was on my mind.  Also, a great sense of commitment to the moment and piece emerges when you are aiming at communicating an entire through line.  I was pleased with the results.

But!  I know I tend to be a bit extreme, and a few things have been brought to my attention that might make this approach not the best for every situation.  Firstly, if you record in the same room, your mixing options for the individual instruments are greatly reduced.  This can be OK if you’re already delighted with the sound engineer, which I was, but I can imagine other scenarios where people would want more control afterwards.  Secondly, not everyone enjoys the pressure of having to perform with the knowledge that they can’t be easily edited.  This won’t bring out the best in them and they may end up feeling rotten about their efforts, totally the opposite of what you’d hope them to feel about working together.  Thirdly, for bigger group stuff, isolation is unavoidable due to about a billion logistical reasons, and this is what I did for Carnival and Bucimis.  I was glad I did.

Let me know your thoughts on this!