Let’s face it – Many budding recordists are intimidated by the prospect of recording drums. There are so many questions and variables. Does my room sound good? Will I have phase issues? Do I have the right microphones? There are a lot of opinions on this topic and here on this blog, we’ve talked about it before.
Here is an excellent article by recording engineer Barry Rudolph from Pro Sound Web. Don’t be intimidated by the specific microphone recommendations. Not everyone (including yours truly) has access to such great microphones. However, many of us do have acceptable microphones with similar polar patterns. Here is a taste of what Mr. Rudolph has to say:
I find that recording drums has very much to do with your monitor mixing as well as the actual sound you are getting on both the individual drums and the total drum kit.
Sure, if I place the drum mix well above the rest of the backing tracks, I can hype the listener into thinking the drum sound is big and muscular. Tilted monitor mixes can make you think you have a great kick drum sound merely because it is very loud.
Pulling the drum mix back into a more realistic mix perspective reveals the true size of the drum recording as it blends with the rest of the instruments and vocals.
When placed in mix perspective, I can assess the relative tonality and balance of the individual drums and judge the overall kit-ambience quality. Low and high frequencies as well as dynamic range are also better judged at this level.
Here’s a video about the enigmatic and legendary producer/engineer Joe Meek. As you see in the video, Meek was an innovator of so many recording techniques that we take for granted. The video is a promotion for a book with the same title, JOE MEEK’S BOLD TECHNIQUES, 2nd EDITION
By Barry Cleveland. The book sounds fascinating and definitely worth a read.
I hope everyone’s summer is going well. Summer is the season of light blog posting. With that in mind, I thought I would post something a little different. Here is a video I found via the website, Dangerous Minds. It’s a “Death Metal” Version of the classic song from the movie, “Grease.”
I am not sure why this amuses me so much – but here you go:
Drum recording can be complex. There are many different philosophies about recording a drum kit. I am a believer of the “simplicity is best” school of thought. After all, most of my all-time favorite recordings were done with very minimalistic drum mic set ups. When I record drums at Tangled Wire Studio, I end up using anywhere from one to three microphones, with a room mic added for an extra sparkle. Because my room is small and the style of music I record is suited for a minimalist setup, I am content.
One of the most famous drum mic techniques is the Glyn Johns, 3 mic technique. Here’s a video with the man himself explaining how it works:
Here’s another interesting video with legendary recordist Bob Clearmountain using a 4 microphone technique. (The Glyn Johns method, plus an extra mic for the snare.
Here’s a clip by of what I consider rock’s greatest rhythm section, The Who. This song demonstrates the prowess of these fine musicians just prior to their prolific record releases of Who’s Next andQuadriophia.
I stumbled across an excellent collection on Youtube Channel called FolkSeattle, which has several excellent old black and white footage of legendary blues player. Here are the videos of one of my favorite duos – Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. In our days of modern technology and studio gadgets and trickery, it’s refreshing to see the power of 2 men, one acoustic guitar and harmonica. Enjoy!
Tape Op Magazine recently added their extensive 2004 interview with Rudy Van Gelder to their web archives. I highly recommend this interview for recording enthusiasts. Mr. Van Gelder was the man who recorded so many of the greatest jazz records of all time, including John Coltrane and his classic quartet recordings for Impulse Records.
Introduction to the Tape Op Interview:
Rudy Van Gelder’s legend looms large, yet he has avoided most interviews throughout his 50-plus years in the recording biz. He has never discussed his techniques, and even in the following interview he didn’t divulge details. Van Gelder is best known for the LPs he recorded in the ’50s and ’60s for the Blue Note and Prestige jazz labels. In his youth he built a recording studio in his parent’s house where he recorded Miles Davis and many others. Having outgrown the first home studio, he built his own recording studio/complex/home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which remains. The scope of Van Gelder’s work is unknown, but it’s a foundation for the maps, legends and history of the music of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others. Van Gelder’s work is both intimate and mind blowing, and he might be the greatest recording engineer in jazz history.
We lost another great. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Cocker back in the late 1980’s. For this particular show, I was lucky enough to have a front row and center seat. All I can say is Mr. Cocker did not disappoint. In fact, I always put this show in my top five all-time concert going experiences. Rest in Peace, Joe!