Had a lovely day recording The Blue Daze trio last month in a church hall on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The trio is piano, bass guitar and drums with a repertoire of mostly original music composed by my brother John.
I wanted to capture the spontaneity of their performances, solos and ensemble, without being too intrusive so went for a one stereo microphone approach. During the time that the trio were getting used to their environment, and trying out a few ideas, I walked around the room using my ears to gauge where the ‘sweet-spots’ were in regard to hearing a good balance of all the instrumental sounds. I then placed the Soundfield microphone in the best area and listened again, altering the width of the stereo field until I was happy that I was picking up all the nuances of sound and then it was a matter of press record and let the trio play.
The sounds from bass, piano and drums are in distinct registers most of the time. There can be a little blurring with the bass and left hand of the piano in the lower register and high register right hand piano sections with snare but the trio had clearly considered most of this before the recording and the instrumental sounds remained clear throughout so capturing other parts separately to mix in later was not required.
The only change I had to make was to the overall level for a couple of the numbers when the kit player changed from brushes to sticks and the band intuitively performed at louder dynamic level. The recording captured by the Soundfield was just like the sound in the room and we were all happy with the final results. In the analogue days, before the mixing desk, the band would play and listen to each other considering the internal balance of the whole sound and the recording engineer would need good ears, well-made microphone stands and a pair of stepladders to climb when trying to find the ideal position for the microphone. Even in the digital age there is still a need for ears and a good microphone as well as the laptop and interface, recording software and a supply of clean electricity and sometimes a sturdy stand and stepladders.
Mixing was easy once the final, whole trio, sound had been agreed and to listen for yourself to the results follow the link to the new Blue Daze Trio Soundcloud page. I hope you enjoy the old style digital recording and the band’s music.
© P. R. Birkby 2015