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Recording Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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🎧 10 years
Recording Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Hey, all. Finally back to recording our local symphony's concerts, and the next performance includes a couple movements from the Four Seasons. The harpsichord will be right in the middle, in front of the conductor. The only time I've recorded an ensemble with harpsichord was a weird situation where I couldn't have any mics out front, so, from the rear, I put an ORTF pair over the open harpsichord facing the strings on either side, and was unpleasantly shocked at how loud the harpsichord was. For this concert I'll be able to use my normal front array and solo violin mics, but I'm wondering if I'll wish I had spots on the harpsichord. Any thoughts or recommendations on recording this piece are welcome.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
So the harpsichord in Baroque music was never intended to be loud and almost always plays in continuo. It wasn't the lead guitar of the day.

I have found that harpsichord sits deep in the acoustic mix in most Baroque performances. Sometimes, the audience can barely hear it, sometimes only a little flicker of sound. So I have found that a two-mic minimal recording presents that music in an entirely believable fashion.

That is not to say that I might not put a stereo spot pair on the instrument even as the two mic pickup might be my personal choice because the harpsichordist is often time the leader of the ensemble. They might ask for (demand) a somewhat more than acoustic rendition of their instrument.

The last time I recorded harpsichord, I put a stereo pair of MKH80s in omni on it and they sounded like a closer mic'd harpsichord.

As it turns out, the leader/harpsichordist absolutely hated the sound of the spots ("too much mechanical sound") but was very pleased with the main pair presentation. Was I sorry that I spot mic'd the harpsichord. No way!

https://byronandfriends.org/joy-sorr...ss-the-waters/

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
A lot will depend on the instrument’s lid. With the more central location you’ve described, removal of the lid gives an open sound that all the players will engage with, and your main pair will pick up with ease, no need for spot miking it. It will also be freed from the ‘pinched’ quality that the lid confers. If you can convince the ensemble to try lid removal, you’ll all be rewarded with the improved sound !

Rather than being side on, the sharp tail end of the harpsichord will be pointed at the conductor, so that harpsichord player and conductor have direct eye contact (lid removal assists eye contact too !)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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RobAnderson's Avatar
 
15 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I almost always plan on spotting the continuo: both harpsichord and the cello/bari gamba (whatever is holding down the basso line).

There's always the fader/mute button if it's not needed, but I'm rarely upset that I went through the trouble.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 
The Decca book has extensive info on micing harpsichord.

Recorded an all-Vivaldi concert a couple of seasons ago, including a couple of mvmnts of the Four Season - didn't mic the harpsi at all; sounded perfectly fine.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Here are a few 'removed lid' examples, with no spot mics on the instrument (just AB omni overhead pair)...in the instrument location I mentioned in post no.3 above...

https://youtu.be/OfEwD4Wrwl8
https://youtu.be/pse3fOouWnE
https://youtu.be/NO1FsN5g9Eo
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks for all the helpful insight, everybody. I had asked about the lid and the conductor's preference is for no lid. I watched and listened to several recordings of the Vivaldi and indeed, the harpsichord is extremely light in every mix. And since I'll be using a four-mic array I don't think I'll need to spot it. This ensemble will have four cellos and two basses, so I probably also won't need to spot the low strings.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Oh, and just a little addendum to my post #2 . When I did a mix the way I preferred (not the published mix that was done by a highly respected classical editor in town), I liked a tiny bit of the harpsichord spots for detail. I will ask him today if he added any of the spots to his mix.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
Oh, and just a little addendum to my post #2 . When I did a mix the way I preferred (not the published mix that was done by a highly respected classical editor in town), I liked a tiny bit of the harpsichord spots for detail. I will ask him today if he added any of the spots to his mix.

D.
That would be interesting to know. What type of ensemble was it?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
A small trio. Harpsichord, baroque cello and theorbo. Also a duet with violin. Some solo harpsichord in that session as well.

Mostly recorded with a main pair of Schoeps Mk21 (A-B) in a nice sounding space.

D.
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