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Author Topic: singing pianist  (Read 2996 times)

wildplum

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singing pianist
« on: September 20, 2004, 01:39:32 pm »

In interviews, both Al Schmitt and Ed Cherney mentioned using similar systems for achieving an acceptable amount of isolation while recording a singing pianist (Dianna Krall and Nora Jones). The key to the system seems to be using a large piece of "foam" (12 inches thick according to one of them) and draping blankets over the foam and piano (I assume on a full stick, using the top to support the blankets).
I am interested in learning more details about this technique. Also, any other tips on managing bleed in a singing pianist situation
-paul tumalo
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Paul Tumolo

<a href="http://www.wildplum.org" target="_blank">Wildplum Recordings</a>

a micro label, studio and remote recording service

theo mack

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2004, 04:27:01 pm »

http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/CDA/ContentDetail/ModelSerie sDetail/0,6373,CNTID%253D1379%2526CTID%253D201800,00.html

Well it's really expensive, but it is one way to isolate your vocals and piano.

You put the grand in silent mode (where it outputs midi to a decent sounding sampled piano for the cans).
Do your take and get the vocal

Then you put the piano in playback mode and record the piano in sync.

There are a few studios that keep up their yammi DK system really well and these rooms are very busy.  They need to be, the investment is huge and the upkeep is serious.

Blankets foam and good use of polar patterns can get great sounds, but if you need to do a lot of punches, the DK systems can be a life saver.
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theo mack
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Carnac

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2004, 06:19:36 pm »

I have a C7 Disklavier Pro here and it's great for much more than that. Playing back exact renditions of performances done on this or any Diskclavier equipt piano can save your ass any number of ways. Bumping the velocity or timing of notes, or re-micing and trying different EQ and compression settings while re-recording has been common practice. The 'upkeep' is not much more than a tuning. Actually about $20 tacked onto the tuning fee to check the midi, Maybe I'm missing the gist of your assertion about 'upkeep.'
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Cory

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2004, 06:26:04 pm »

Paul,
    You pretty much have the idea already.  We have a piece of foam cut into a triangle that fits in front of the opening of the piano (as you look at it from the players POV.  The foam is about 6" thick.  Then we place the mics inside the piano and blanket the shit out of it.  It dosn't get rid of all the leakage, but it makes it manageable.  I thought I had some pictures from the last round of Diana Krall sessions that show the piano setup, but I can't seem to find them right now.

Steve
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theo mack

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2004, 07:50:55 pm »

You are right carnac, I concede, "upkeep" isn't really any more than any other high quality acoustic piano.

And yes there are many many other great things about the Disklavier Pro that make it a really cool thing.
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theo mack
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bobkatz

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2004, 10:10:22 pm »

wildplum wrote on Mon, 20 September 2004 13:39

In interviews, both Al Schmitt and Ed Cherney mentioned using similar systems for achieving an acceptable amount of isolation while recording a singing pianist (Dianna Krall and Nora Jones).





Singing pianist is one my least-favorite situations. The piano is the loser in this one, as it ends up sounding small and monoish.

I'd consider a hypercardioid pointing so the off axis is at the piano. Then, you have to convince the singer to stay relatively still, as the hypercardoid has a big change ratio for a small movement in and out.

Has anyone tried differential miking in this situation? (two omnis or possibly cardioids, matched gain located as close as possible to one another, one out of phase with the other, singer sings into one mike only).
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PP

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2004, 07:08:46 pm »

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Bob Olhsson

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2004, 10:29:08 am »

I've run into several artists whose singing and piano playing both improve dramatically when they are performed together. This is no doubt a question of self consciousness but the difference is literally the difference between a blockbuster hit and a competent album cut.

Dan Healy experimented a great deal with differential mikes for his "wall of sound" Grateful Dead stage setup. The Sennheiser omni dynamics he ended up using work the best I've heard but the large changes in sound caused by tiny movements of the singer make it pretty much unsuitable for a recording. When I worked for Quicksilver, we got to use all of the Dead's unused gear we wanted.

PP

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2004, 06:23:13 pm »

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Phillip Graham

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2004, 07:53:39 pm »

bobkatz wrote on Mon, 20 September 2004 22:10


Has anyone tried differential miking in this situation? (two omnis or possibly cardioids, matched gain located as close as possible to one another, one out of phase with the other, singer sings into one mike only).


I havent' tried differential micing, but it would be interesting.

FWIW, Crown makes two "differoid" microphones, which are designed exactly like this.  It works very very well (the only way to do live drum vocals).

They are the CM310 (handheld), and CM311, respectively.  You really have to be up on the grill for them to pick up at all.

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Phillip Graham

moze

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2004, 08:10:04 pm »

Any ideas where to get those really thick foam sheets?  I've seen some of those foot thick "walls" in pictures.  I record a LOT of piano playing singers and would love to try some out.

thanks!

-moze
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bobkatz

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2004, 10:42:26 pm »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Wed, 22 September 2004 10:29



Dan Healy experimented a great deal with differential mikes for his "wall of sound" Grateful Dead stage setup. The Sennheiser omni dynamics he ended up using work the best I've heard but the large changes in sound caused by tiny movements of the singer make it pretty much unsuitable for a recording. When I worked for Quicksilver, we got to use all of the Dead's unused gear we wanted.


That brings up a good point. Perhaps there is a good-sounding omni mike that can be head-worn on a headband. It can be an omni and then the opposite of the differential pair can be located on a stand near the artist's mouth.

If the artist can stand wearing the mike, this might be a useful solution to the isolation problem.
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hollywood_steve

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2004, 01:02:22 pm »

I've run into several artists whose singing and piano playing both improve dramatically when they are performed together. This is no doubt a question of self consciousness but the difference is literally the difference between a blockbuster hit and a competent album cut

And I think that this is more important than any lack of isolation during the mix.  I have limited experience with this situation, but my next gig includes this "problem" and, as it is a live show, I do not have the option of blankets, foam or other treatment.  My solution is simple: the singer uses a cardiod with good rear rejection, while I mic the piano with a single ribbon perpendicular to the singer / vocal mic axis.  This way the vocal is in the null of the ribbon mic.  The isolation isn't perfect, but it's more than adequate and no blankets required.  But then isolation has never been a priority for me.
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nob turner

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2004, 03:40:57 am »

i remember seeing an article in re/p (the magazine) back in the 80's about a studio that had been built around a piano, by a singing pianist.  he set it up so that the keyboard was in the main room, and the rest of the instrument was in an iso booth.  obviously, there was still a bit of leakage, but it worked for him.  a few years later, i saw a note that he had rebuilt the studio and no longer had the iso'd piano.

i did a singing pianist session this week.  when we needed a fix, we had her play and sing the required section again, then edited it in.  not perfect, but pretty believable.  the reason we were doing this recording is that she wasn't happy with the original recording of the song... which had included an entire band, and didn't match her intended feel.  the way to get what she wanted was to play and sing together.  so the technical limitations were overruled by the desired feeling of the performance.

i didn't find any problem with getting an "acceptable" amount of leakage in this case.  the piano still had a reasonable stereo spread, and wasn't too woofy from leakage into the vocal mic.  but that depends so much on the performer's dynamic both vocally and on the keyboard... woe to the engineer whose client has heavy hands and a whispery voice....
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2004, 11:36:35 am »

What's hard is getting enough separation to punch in a few lines of the vocal invisibly.

ted nightshade

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2004, 11:48:26 am »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Wed, 22 September 2004 07:29

 When I worked for Quicksilver, we got to use all of the Dead's unused gear we wanted.


I always wonder what happened to all that stuff- they'd replace all this spendy custom gear at least once every tour... man I'd love to get my hands on some of that stuff! Like Brent's old Leslies with 7 different rotors going both ways...


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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2004, 11:56:38 am »

I think Peter's points about Concert Grand Pianos are very much on the money- I would suggest an entirely different type of piano for mic'ing up close.
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STILL

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2004, 12:41:50 am »

Quote:

Any ideas where to get those really thick foam sheets? I've seen some of those foot thick "walls" in pictures. I record a LOT of piano playing singers and would love to try some out.


Try a place that sells "furniture" grade foam, or foam for bedding, both come in pretty thick chunks, and big too....

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2004, 07:00:25 pm »

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moze

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Re: singing pianist
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2004, 09:51:31 pm »

STILL wrote on Mon, 27 September 2004 05:41

Quote:

Any ideas where to get those really thick foam sheets? I've seen some of those foot thick "walls" in pictures. I record a LOT of piano playing singers and would love to try some out.


Try a place that sells "furniture" grade foam, or foam for bedding, both come in pretty thick chunks, and big too....


Muchas gracias!
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