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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000672.txt from 2003/06

From: "Benjamin Maas" <>
Subj: [kl] Reording Technology issues (was RE: [kl] Vibrato on the Clarinet)
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 22:40:00 -0400

Oh where to begin with this post.... I agree with some and I think =
are a few misconceptions as well...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: LARISA DUFFY & DAVID DOW [mailto:DUFFYL@-----.CA]=20
> The music schools keep churning out gifted and fine players...but the
> industry is taking over!

Mmm... Okay... Is this a bad thing?
> All of the major classical labels(DG. EMI and a few others=20
> are now under the
> control of Universal Classics. ) This is not healthy for=20
> classical music
> let alone any music. That being said, we are finally=20
> starting to see the
> emergence as of late of smaller independent labels.

RCA is part of Bertelsmann (spelling? Anyways BMG) which has =
been one of the other major labels. Also, you cannot look beyond Sony =
has also been one of the major players- especially after they took over

The rise of independent labels is happening across the music industry. =
our government is encouraging corporate media ownership (and near
monopolies), this will probably become more and more apparent. Be aware
that, as many labels are "independent," the distribution is being =
handled by
larger companies that have penetration into radio and CD/book stores =
Tower, Borders, Barns and Noble, and others... The true independents =
still at a major disadvantage because of a lack of distribution. We'll =
if the apple download store helps fix any of this. Probably not in
classical, but probably will in pop.

> As to recording sessions. Yes I have done quite a few and=20
> saw and watched a
> process of several recordings and their subsequent releases. =20
> I know an
> awful lot of players(solo) and orchestral who wind up doing=20
> so many edits
> and retakes on something its a miracle the record holds=20
> together. So, the
> moral may love a given record but the labels are=20
> usually careful
> not to mention it took 43 takes for 8 bars of music.=20

In this case it really depends on the label and even more importantly =
the producer is... Face it, people demand perfection on their =
Classical music has become as produced as the next. That said, there =
still a very large number of performers and producers out there that =
minimal editing. There are examples of classical music where there are
thousands of edits, but there are plenty of recordings with just a few. =
have personally made both.

Digital editing technology is capable of doing just about anything. In =
setup here, I can edit with a resolution of about 2 milliseconds with =
and can have music line up with sample accuracy (1/44,100 of a second on
most of my work, but sometimes as little as 1/192,000 of a second). I =
also change tempo as well as pitch. I make pretty good money as an =
making sure that edits are unheard but also making sure that the music
doesn't suffer as a result. If you have a crappy producer, you'll end =
with a crappy recording, even if the performance is good.

Another issue is budgets... It costs a lot more to rehearse an ensemble
(especially a large one) than it does to record and edit it. The AF of =
allows roughly 4 minutes of music to be recorded per hour of session (at
least here in LA). Also, there is a 20 minute break for ever hour (so =
40 min. worked). That allows for several passes and the rest is up to
editors. To get the entire orchestra together for extra rehearsals gets
very expensive very quickly. The groups usually loose a lot of money on
recordings anyways.

Glen Gould stopped performing in public because he didn't want to deal =
the pressure of having to play up to the level of recordings. As we are
human it just isn't possible. As long as there has been tape, there has
been editing in recordings... My suggestion is to get over it.

> Then, some labels have unnatural balances with the=20
> advent of
> buttons up say on a give passage in 3rd horn say....not=20
> entirely indictative
> of how we expect it to sound in a rehearsal or concert setting!

Once again, this is very much dependent on the recording engineer, =
and label. Telarc tends to use minimalist micing techniques as does =
Sony, on the other hand, has been known to fill a 48 track recorder on =
orchestra dates. In the film industry, this is common, but in =
generally it is accepted practice to allow the balances a bit more to =
orchestra. Decca, RCA, DG and others are somewhere in between. It is
pretty common to record an orchestra with between 6-12 microphones =
on the repertoire and hall.

Be aware that most people listen to music in their cars and on the radio
these days. That makes a pretty huge difference in the way we go about
recording it. Because of the high-noise level in the background, =
generally has become less subtle. Compression and limiting is much more
> I know that technique and technique alone is a dead end for=20
> sure.=20

I can agree with this...

> Can the
> Chicago symphony play Varese without a good conductor. I=20
> would say no. =20

Probably they can.. It may not necessarily be an amazing performance, =
they'd do a fine job, I'm sure. That said, you wouldn't have a hack
conductor in front of the CSO attempting Varese. You're going to have a
conductor that can handle contemporary music (ie. Boulez).

> I have worked long enough as a freelance and as a regular=20
> orchestral player
> to have such biased views. Can a conductor ruin an excellent=20
> orchestra?
> Yes!!!=20

That I agree with as well...

An excellent orchestra can ruin themselves as well... Most of the =
are so burnt out and tired of playing that they don't want to try unless
there is a genius on the podium in front of them. Whereas a mid-level
orchestra may be happier with a good, but not amazing, conductor in =
front of
them. The worst attitudes in music that I've encountered have been from
players in the "great" orchestras.

I've played in a lot of good groups and worked freelance quite a bit. =
said, there is a reason why I decided to earn my living as a recording


Benjamin Maas
Freelance Clarinetist and Recording Engineer
Los Angeles, CA

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