Bravo! I've seen and heard this this countless times. The conductor,
should he be involved enough to be engaged in the recording and editing
process (not all are), has virtual veto power over the producer and often
tries to rectreate the listening experience as heard from the podium.
I'd add that the stereo sound-stage is audible from the first few rows only.
It makes for good demo of the electronics. I feel the front-to-back
dimension is of equal or greater importance.
Too many mikes evisceate the wallop of massed brass groups.
The real question is, "what did the composer expect when laying ink to
paper?" Uncovering that is real work- how was the orchestra seated that
gave the first performance, i.e., 1st violins on left, 2ds on right? What
was the hall like? What was it's cubic volume and how did that relate to
the number of winds and brasses to a part? etc.
The Brahms 2d Piano Concerto is a perfect case. I don't listen to all
records of this work, but it's clear from the score that there are two and
three way interchanges among the string groups and the piano related to
their positioning. I've yet to hear a recording that brings this out.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Shoshani" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, January 01, 2008 11:56 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] How not to mike an orchestra
> Bob Olhsson wrote:
>> I got hired around ten years ago to record a woman who turned out to have
>> played flute in both the NBC Symphony and the New York Philharmonic where
>> she met her husband who played clarinet. Before leaving, we sat down with
>> the couple and had a conversation about the recording and broadcasting of
>> those orchestras. After some wonderful anecdotes about Toscanini and
>> Stokowski, I was shocked to hear them say they believed "recordings
>> so much after the modern technique of using lots of microphones instead
>> only one started to be used."
> About Stokowski, I can believe it. Remember, he was heavily involved in
> multiple-mic setups (all of four, I think) in early experimental stereo
> tests back in the 1940s, and he was an eager participant in Disney's
> "Fantasia", which was originally recorded on either seven or nine tracks,
> which were then mixed down to three audio tracks plus a control track.
> Toscanini, I am led to believe (by Roland Gelatt), was somewhere between
> ambivalent and downright antagonistic toward any recordings of his
> That being said, I will make the following observation which, as an
> amateur recordist with no professional training either in recording or in
> the maintenance of an orchestra, I admit to being unqualified to make: it
> seems to me that the conductor should have as little as possible to say in
> the sound of the finished recording. Why? Because the conductor only hears
> the orchestra from his own perspective on the podium. He never hears his
> own orchestra the way an AUDIENCE hears it in the hall, with the mass of
> sound waves mixed together and thrown forward due to the acoustic
> engineering, and THAT is the sound that was sought back in the single-mic
> or two/three mic pickup days. The engineer was after the sound that the
> record listener could identify from having been in an audience - not from
> the podium with the players between, say, three and fifteen feet away from
> their ears.
> Michael Shoshani