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recording a kora
Old 22nd April 2003
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
recording a kora

hi all,

i'm doing a session this week with some african musicians, and one of them plays the kora. has anybody had any experience recording this instrument? i know that it sounds about as loud as an unamplified electric guitar, so i'm prepared for some very close mics, but i'm not sure where (traditionally) you would placing the mics for the best resonance from the instrument.

any and all advice is appreciated,

mike
Old 22nd April 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
PlugHead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
FWIW,

I play with, and have recorded kora a few times, and most of my experience comes from the player: he records 2 channels - one with a pickup on the instrument (i think it is a countryman), and a Neumann (omni, small diaphram) placed a few feet in front in the room ( a very nice room - 24 ft ceilings )

The instrument is not really loud, but you will find that acoustically the higher strings are louder than it's bass, so you will have to decide what picture you want - if it is a solo instrument ( possibly with percussion, etc) you might want to get a bit closer so you can retain a good solid bottom, but that is one reason for use of a pickup - it adds the thunk to the instrument, esp. if played percussively. Closer micing can get better articulation, but more stridency with the fingers plucking the strings (often fishing line). I would suggest trying micing lower (around the gourd/base) than higher if you want some of the bass response, and need to get in close, but only if the floor is wood, or is something that is nicely reflective. Overall, it is a melody instrument - it traditionally plays higher melodic riffs, and punctuates with bass strings and slaps/knocks. I think a good set of mics and pre's should be able to catch it realistically, yet hopefully not allowing bleed of other louder instruments (percussion etc.) heavily in the mics. That's what i can offer - hope it is of some assistance...

best of luck!
Old 22nd April 2003
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Greg Heimbecker's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i had geat luck with a pair of Schoeps mk-4 behind the neck of the instrument in xy along with his pickup through an old TL audio tube DI into a Daking pre/EQ. He also sang (loudly) into a Brauner Valvet off and up to his right. When I did ruffs I keyed the comp on the mics with his voice so they'd duck a bit.

hmmm, lemme see if I can find a link ... bottom of the page, BIMO is the tune
Old 22nd April 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
dave-G's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: recording a kora

Quote:
Originally posted by sonicmike
hi all,

i'm doing a session this week with some african musicians, and one of them plays the kora. has anybody had any experience recording this instrument? i know that it sounds about as loud as an unamplified electric guitar, so i'm prepared for some very close mics, but i'm not sure where (traditionally) you would placing the mics for the best resonance from the instrument.
Mike,

I'm not sure I understand why the fact that it's not loud means you'll absolutely need to mic it close for the best resonance.. I'd suspect the opposite may be true; you might want to back off so that the attacks and resonances are more "together" (the inverse square law lives!), and so that your room can reinforce those resonances.

Set your player up, and move your head (or head with one plugged ear) around until you find a nice spot that you think a mic (or pair) would enjoy. .. And if he/she is a long-experienced player, he/she may have been recorded enough times to have some savvy about the process, and thus some valuable input into the sweet spots, the beamy spots, the aspects of the sound that he/she likes best ... kinda like a museum docent for a form that's new to you. In any case, don't be too proud to ask.

-dave
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