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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Record This”

December 21, 2010

Dear Michael,

I greatly enjoy your program and thank you for it. I listen every week. I know that organs are a difficult instrument to record. I was wondering if you ever did a program or would consider doing a program about the art of recording the organ. Perhaps examples of various recording techniques or old historic recordings or organs may help us appreciate exactly how difficult this can be.
Whenever I listen this is always in the back of my mind.




Recording the organ is not as difficult as some imagine...it’s only a matter of having good equipment, knowing how to apply it, and using one’s ears. The magic is finding the place where the microphone ‘hears’ a balance of direct sound (for clarity of detail) and the energized room (for ambience, and spaciousness).
Every program is ‘about the art of recording’...and you can hear in the various performances, the various effects.
Sometimes the challenge comes from the remote (high) location of the instrument in a VERY revergerant space, in which case one must either have a very, very tall stand or hang microphones down from the ceiling above. Evenso, it is often possible to get a good sound by placing microphones in a ‘sweet spot’ that you as a listener can easily discover.
Everything is easy, or not...but the most necessary ingredient is common sense and good ears.


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