Monday, 30 April 2007

aa - week 7 - vocal recording

Recording vocals.[1]

For this the Neumann U-89i microphone was used, set on a cardioid pattern with no filter or pad. A pop filter was set up about 3" away.
This was then routed through the Avalon pre-amp into pro-tools
In pro-tools I routed the initial signal through an auxiliary track to then record compression with the take.
For some reason, blogger keeps making my "large picture" not so large :( Hopefully enough information can be garnered from such..

All samples were post eq'd with about a 4dB of reduction at 3kHz. I used this on all samples because it sounded good. Perhaps it was a mic characteristic or perhaps the positioning in the room that made this a good frequency to cut.

1st and 2nd takes were about 8" from the microphone. Nothing other than a bit of "coaching" was used.
take 1 take 2

3rd take was about 6" from the mic, with the Avalon HPF set just above 130 Hz.
take 3

4th the same as the 3rd with a compression of 3:1, gain reduction of about 6 dB. As in picture above.
take 4

I found Kath's gained confidence over time, and whilst she managed to get more of an overall dynamic constancy, she still tended to lose volume over time.
Also there are noticeable unwanted mouth sounds, a bit of practice would help her delivery to gain a better recording.

5th and 6th takes were me singing :) 6 " away, 6th take featuring similar compression to earlier takes.
The 6th take (which was really about the 14th or so), shows my voice wearing out. Obviously a better singer could maintain vocal ability for longer periods, also a better dynamic stability.
take 5 take 6

All these could do with more production, but definitely the last take of Kath's voice was the most usable. This could well be due to her evolving experience at the time.
As to the takes of mine, I find them much of a muchness, neither is more preferable than the other - they both sound all right for what they are.

[1] Fieldhouse, Steve. Vocal recording technique. University of Adelaide, 24 april 2007.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

cc - week 6 - sequencing to someone elses score

EDIT : i manage to forget to link to resultant piece.
there it is..

This week we were asked to sequence a piece for a score given to us. [1]

Here is a picture of the track window which features the score at the bottom.

After a bit of pondering I recognised similiarities from my own score.
The cut up bits as abstract sounds, the vertical as percussive etc. I then lay sounds down in a representation of the score, then manipulated to my aesthetic pleasure.

I used time stretching, pitch shifting and cutting up and rearranging to manipulate my existing sounds.

From much experience of previous adventures using this technique, I decided to use 5 tracks for simplicity. This kept the vertical information to a minimum, hence vertical scrolling to a minimum.
With dragging and dropping willy nilly between them (I found that ProTools will copy any automation and plugins along with the wave, both annoying and useful), and tweaking of the automation, a satisfactory result was acheived.

The top 3 tracks were used for generally centered sounds, with a bit of panning and volume automation.
Bottom 2 were hard panned left and right and both feature the moogerfooger delay as an insert effect.

The picture shows automation for ;
- the top track ; EQ bypass
- the bottom track ; delay time

I also used a bit of compression on the master fader channel for a bit of overall gain.

[1] Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 6 lecture. University of Adelaide, 5 april 2007.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

f - week 6 - collaboration revisited

Today was official "not enough collaborations day", hence rather than the scheduled presentations we were exposed once more to perspectives on collaborations.

First was Luke Harrald and his talk on the soundtrack for the short film "the 9.13". [1]
He made a few interesting comments;
- regarding the continual blurring of the edges of media, that one must either become multi skilled or collaborate with others who have the skills.
- he considers machines as active creative collaborants.

Second was David Harris whom collaborated with visual artist Pamela Rataj on a number of works.[2]
- had a starting point of not to interfere with each other.
- for their first piece together, David found himself using a similiar technique as Pamela but with totally different media. Pamela was working with moire patterns in a grid mesh, and David resonance of a sound, where every location has a different harmonic content.
- for the second piece David also found himself collaborating with the space, and evolving through it.

Third up, Poppi Doser and Betty Qian talked about their collaborative work "Behind the door". A short animation (Poppi did the sound, and Betty the animation).[3]
- coming from different nationalities there were difficulties in communication through speech, so charades was resorted to to communicate some ideas.
- theirs was a simultaneous process, working together.

Fourth was Stephen Whittington and his general impressions on the concept of collaboration.[4]
- two words, empathy and humility. Empathy for sharing the process and creating a synergy, and humility for being open and receptive to other potential originations.
- "Beethoven was a far greater musician than I."[5] This statement ties in with humility, interpreting in such a way as to feel the music rather than force.
- one collaborates with equipment or instruments. "I see it having a kind of intelligence in its structure."[5]

I feel quite strongly with the ideas of collaboration being well outside the realms of working with someone on a limited task. Anything we choose to work with outside ourselves is the work of another entity and therefore has it's own innate nature and abilities that will come into play through the work we create !!

It was during the question time after Stephens talk that the following question was voiced. "What is not a collaboration ?"[6]
After all the philosphising and broadening of abstract concepts, this rather pointed question almost pulled the rug from under my feet. The dangers of becoming too abstract, is that words lose any useful meaning and threaten to collaborate in doing my head in :)

[1] [2] [3] [4] Music Technology Forum on collaboration. University of Adelaide. 5th April 2007.

[5] Whittington, Stephen. Music Technology Forum on collaboration. University of Adelaide. 5th April 2007.

[6] Unknown student.
Music Technology Forum on collaboration. University of Adelaide. 5th April 2007.

Friday, 6 April 2007

aa - week 6 - accoustic guitar recording

I went into the studio with Sanad (Khaled Sanadzadeh) and Alfred Essemyr to try out a few different microphone techniques on this weeks assignment, recording some accoustic guitar. [1]

We recorded everything with two microphones at once. Generally attempting a stereo sound, but some techniques were more about layering of the mics to give a more interesting sound.

We recorded 6 different sounds, myself playing the guitar (attempting to play similiar for comparison - but I did get distracted once).

Above is a picture of the mixing section after I went through and mixed each sound. Each take has been grouped to help differentiate (different colour buttons on each channel).

I used no EQ in production but think that it would have helped each sound to be more useable.

Unfortunately we have no photo's of the microphone arrangements so I'll explain each one.

The first technique was an X-Y stereo technique using two Neumann KM84's (track 1+2). One pointing at the top 3 strings, the other at the bottom 3 strings, about 15cm from the end of the fretboard near sound hole. Each hard panned opposite.

Second we used an AKG c414 (omnidirectional)(track 3) and a Neumann U87 (figure 8)(track 4) to create an M-S stereo pattern. Both placed again at the end of the fretboard about 30cm out. The U87 was copied onto another track (track 5), the copy phase inverted and then each hard panned.

Third was the Rode NT4 stereo microphone (track 6+7), postioned similiar to the first technique.

Fourth was a technique sugged by Sanad, using the two KM84's (track 8+9) pointed at the front near the bridge (about 15cm out) and behind the guitar (didn't notice how far out this one was because i was looking the other way) pointed at roughly the same point (but through the body). I inverted one of the signals, softpanned each and just gave a bit of the rear signal, still very warm.

The rear microphone picked up a surprising amount of attack.

Fifth using the two KM84's (track 10+11), one at the bridge and one at the end of the fretboard near the soundhole, both about 15cm out. Hard panned.

Sixth was similiar to the fifth (track 12+13) but one of the mics was shifted up to the nut. This one I used much more signal from the nut microphone.

[1] Fieldhouse, Steve. Recording an accoustic guitar. University of Adelaide, 3 april 2007.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

f - week 5 - collaborations 2

This week another 4 presentations on the theme of collaborations [1].

1st up given by Luke Digance on the collaboration between choreographer Merce Cunningham and pop bands Sigur Rós & Radiohead.

Lots of nice slides.

Having composed a number of dance pieces I found this slightly interesting - the best part was that the dancers wore different coloured costumes for the seperate sections. I did some extra reading on this, and apparently there was a fair amount of chance in the actual performance, which piece went where, which band performed with which dancers.

2nd, Daniel Murtagh gave a brief on Mike Patton and his innumerable collaborations.

Having enjoyed the first Mr Bungle LP (mainly for the John Zorn aspect), this had some historical interest for me.

Apparently once a work is completed, Mr Patton shelves it and never listens to it again. Makes me wonder if that's why a lot of his work sounds the same.

3rd, Darren Slynn, was an ongoing exploration of collaborators, and there perhaps reason for being such was necessity - how else can you be band without getting someone else to join ?

What first piqued my interest was the sound effects guy from "Hey Hey its Saturday" (Murray ?). Mainly of interest because I have fond memories of Winky Dink - probably before Murray was involved.

Going through Frank Zappa, the Weather Report and I think ending up with Steely Dan. The whirlwind tour may have made some more stops on the way but these were the ones I remembered.

4th up was given by Alfred Essemyr, similiar theme to the 3rd with the idea of collaborations through necessity, but in this case not necessarily known or planned.

The DJ as a collaborator with a musical artist. One records the music, one plays the music. This reminds me of a Sesame Street skit [1]on co-operation highlightling the potentials in sharing efforts.

So once a track is released, anyone can collaborate with the initial artist. I myself have "collaborated" unofficially with John Farnham, Craig David, Milli Vanilli, Slayer, JS Bach, Richard Wagner, Bela Bartok.......oh, and John Cage :)

[1] Collaborations 2, Music Technology Forum. University of Adelaide, 29 March 2007.

[2] Two muppets, one with short arms, one with long unbendy arms.
One fruit tree. The fruit is too high for the short one, and once the other plucks the fruit it can't get them to its mouth.
Co-operation. The long armed muppet picks the fruit, the short armed feeds them both :)

A childhood memory from Sesame Street, Childrens Television Workshop.

CC - week 5 - more adventures in sequencing of a sort

For this exercise [1] I have used similiar rules to last weeks score to manifest this score.

Here is the score.

Horizontal folds represent repetitive percussive sounds.
Vertical folds represent staccato sounds.
Rips within the piece of paper represent abstract washy sounds.
Angular folds represent simple sounds with pitch variation.
Scrunching represents long scrunchy sounds.
Rips at the bottom represent tearing sounds.

Here is the rendered score. The grease_at_the_end_of_time.mp3

With this piece showing deliberate manipulation of spatial information (pan/volume), I have torn the piece in half to simplistically portray stereo information.

One interesting technique with this I found, was joining the two pieces asymmetrically and applying folds or crinkles etc. This had the effect of major stereo misalignment.

Below is a screen shot of the ProTools track window. [2]
Nothing too exciting going on, a bit of panning, a small volume envelope. For this track i quite enjoyed hard panning, with repeated and slightly offset files to create the stereo misalignment.

Below is a picture of the ProTools mixer window. [2]
A bit of fader adjustment and the panning is more evident.

[1] Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 5 lecture. University of Adelaide, 29 march 2007.

[2] Digidesign ProTools 7

Monday, 2 April 2007

aa week 4 - mic techniques

The aim of this weeks exercise was to try out various microphone techniques for recording a consistent sound source. [1]

I set up a small radio broadcasting a tuning whistle, around this I set up an array of 6 microphones. (as above)

  1. AKG C414 - condenser mic set to OMNI DIRECTIONAL pickup pattern

  2. AKG C414 – set to SUPER CARDIOID

  3. Shure SM 58 – dynamic mic, CARDIOID pattern

  4. Shure BETA 52A – dynamic mic, CARDIOID pattern

  5. Sennheiser MD -421 – dynamic mic, CARDIOID pattern

  6. Sennheiser MD -421 – dyanmic mic, CARDIOID pattern

With this setup I could explore

  • proximity effect using the MD-421's. Both of these mics were pointed at the same point of the sound source, with one being approx 8 cm and the other 60cm distant.

  • differing polar patterns using the C414's. These mics were placed at similar distance and along the same axis.

  • differing microphones using the SM 58 and the BETA 52A. These were also place at similar distance and along the same axis.

Here are the six sound samples (these have been normalised)

01.mp3 02.mp3 03.mp3 04.mp3 05.mp3 06.mp3

There are noticeable differences in all samples.

The two MD-421 samples exhibit the tendencies of the proximity effect quite nicely.

There is a marked difference in sound with the more distant mic having a much thinner sound, and a much reduced volume (obviously the normalised samples do not :).

The two C414's sound qualities are again quite different, below are frequency analysis of them.[2]

The omni-directional (top) having more of a distinct peak at about 670 hz and the hyper-cardioid (bottom) having more balanced frequency distribution.

The two Shure microphones also show major differences in sound quality.

The SM58 having a broader sound.

Of the sounds recorded, the C414's surprised me the most - the difference is quite disctinct.
Whether this was caused solely by the differing polar patterns or the setup [3] could only be revealed through having two recordings from the same postion (this thought occuring to me several days after the recording session).

[1] Fieldhouse, Steve. Tutorial on Microphones. University of Adelaide, 27 march 2007.

[2] Steinberg Wavelab5 3D analysis.

[3] Using a mono signal coming through two seperate speakers (the AM whistle through a stereo cassette radio), introduces all sorts of phase issues when comparing two microphones in different locations. The two mono signals would interact and effect the sound depending on location.