Microphone you use in concert

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Hi James, Just got your book - I'm looking forward to reading it. You have a similiar philosophy to my teacher, he also is a huge fan of recording and I've been enjoying the benefits of doing so.

A question about microphones, in the concert pictured here


you aren't using the Coles mics - what are they? I have a pair of the new Coles 4040's, which are a pain to set up. I'm considering getting the Royer SF-12 just because it's easier to work with.

I don't have a firm opinion yet of the 4040's, as I'm just finishing my own design all tube preamp. Three chassis - it's a beast! DHT and a very special design in the small signal triodes, I think it'll be pretty special.



-- Dan (nospam@nospam.com), September 19, 2004


It's the B&O 200 stereo ribbon mike. The original Speiden stereo ribbon looked (but did not sound) very much like it. I don't know what the Royer sounds like; it's changed from the Speiden, I understand from Dave Royer.

Please let us know your experience with the book's musical techniques!! We've got WAY too much about equipment on this forum, and way too little about making music! (And from a psychological point of view, I take leave to point out that playing with equipment, like playing with regulating or voicing one's piano, or tweaking any instrument, is a Perfect excuse for NOT PRACTICING!!)

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), September 19, 2004.

Hi James, Thanks for the quick answer. You are correct - equipment is an excuse not to play! I struggle with this myself.

My teacher has had me play for the tape for a while now. While I haven't tried the specific techniques you discuss in the book (I'll be trying them shortly), I've just been playing - listening - playing, etc. What is interesting to me is how much unconscious learning occurs. A few days after doing this my mind seems to naturally adapt - listen to my playing more closely, without my consciously thinking of it. I've been amazed at the results.

I'll let you know how it goes.


-- Dan (dan@nospam.com), September 19, 2004.

This is good to hear, but now that you are used to using the equipment regularly, do use the specific techniques in the book. They will help *enormously*; and the nice thing is that they are compatible with any and every approach to music and the piano. Whatever your teacher wants you to work on, these techniques will help you do it. Don't be misled by their apparent simplicity; they are very subtle; the subtlety power is in the *actions* you do when using the techniques, not in the words we use to talk about them. Take the first two, say (Sessions 1 and 2) and do them faithfully as part of your practice for three or four weeks (of course you'll be doing the other things your teacher wants, also!), and you should see big steps forward. All of this for approval by you and your teacher, of course; but as I say, there's nothing here that opposes anything your teacher might want. -- -- In short, what I'm saying is that "taping and listening" is good advice but too vague. One needs to know HOW to listen, what to listen FOR, what to DO with what one hears. That's where these techniques come in. They represent over 40 years' experience with and refinement of what works.

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), September 19, 2004.

Thanks James, good advice - I'll do it!

One question, you may say this in the book but I haven't picked it up yet, how much of a practice session do you think should be using these techniques?

For example, do you think it's a good idea to tape the entire session, using these techniques, for whatever pieces I'm working on (and whatever other things I'm working on)?

Otherwise, your advice should work wonderfully with my regular lessons. My teacher is wonderful, I'm an experienced musician on another instrument (I've switched to piano now), so we pretty much only talk about interpretation. Technique is always be subservient to the music.


-- Dan (dan@nospam.com), September 19, 2004.

Technique can only be subservient to the music when it's subservient to the pianist, eh? That is, when it's so good that you can do what you want, when you want. This requires--for most people--a lot of technical work, though of course this may not be in the form of (gasp!) scales and arpeggios and Hanon, God forbid. Nevertheless, a lot of work is required! As for how long to record, I hope that's pretty clear in the book. Depending on the purpose, you might record anything from a few bars to an entire work. I urge you to just try EXACTLY what is suggested; and do that for three or four weeks with EACH exercise before branching out on your own (which of course I welcome). -- -- Of course you might well record an entire lesson for other purposes, e.g., to have it for reference; but for purposes of the book, it will not be necessary. The point isn't the recording; it's what you DO with the recording. What you never never do is "just listen." Instead, follow the techniques; I really have worked very hard to get them right, and have used them with generations of students. They do work, but you must trust them to reap the benefits. Give each one say 4 weeks of WHOLE-HEARTED, COMMITTED effort. Of course these techniques are just a part of your practice sessions. Maybe 15 minutes one day; maybe 75 minutes the next day.

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), September 19, 2004.

"Technique can only be subservient to the music when it's subservient to the pianist, eh? That is, when it's so good that you can do what you want, when you want."

Yes of course, but what I'm talking about is a method where the technique is developed for the interpretation, not in isolation. For example, when I was studying the clarinet when I was young, I spent years using this horrible French method book. Years and years of scales, long tones, in every key. Yes, I became amazingly good technically, but in the meantime the music died. It wasn't like I could suddenly "turn on a musical switch", after all that.

Now, thankfully, I don't do any technical work in isolation. It's only done for the purposes of achieving a particular interpretive idea. So in the end, you're right, I do what I want when I want, but the motivation is always and only interpretive. I'm sure this is second nature in your book.

I'll do the exercises exactly and faithfully, and report back. And maybe buy a Royer mic in the meantime (duck! :) )

-- Dan (dan@nospam.com), September 19, 2004.

Yes, of course, technique work in the context of pieces; by all means. And of course I agree that you can't "turn on the music switch." It has to be on from the beginning. That's Precisely what my book's techniques are aimed at. -- -- Re buying Royer mike or any other gear, my respectful, tentative and shy advice is... STOP FOOLING AROUND WITH EQUIPMENT! DON'T BUY ANYTHING! Just go ahead and, you know...Practice! (I don't know the 4040 mikes. Everyone speaks as though they're obviously going to be better than the 4038. That would be something! Everyone is ignoring that the 4038 was designed by two ultra-able BBC engineers with lots of experience and credentials (Shorter & Harwood). We don't know Who designed the 4040; the engineer(s) might be as good as S & H, but that's unlikely, speaking statistically; so the question of the quality of the 4040 is not something to be taken for granted. Rather, it's very much up in the air 'til auditioning shows the answer. Personally, I think the right way to go with a new ribbon design is something quite different; and one of my students was getting somewhere on it 'til my lab was suddenly closed last summer.

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), September 19, 2004.

Whew! Did the first and second lesson tonight. What a workout, I'm exhausted! I guess I'll build up strength for this, but it's quite trying at first.

I don't know yet the effect the work is having, but I'll tell you my practice session is more interesting now! That at least is worth the price of admission. One immediate benefit is the dancing from lesson two. I used Bach WTC #1 as a starter piece, and my tempo's were a little erratic. Not metronomically, but I was just at loose ends a bit. I did lesson one, then did two by dancing around the room. Wow! That was interesting. I'll report more later - got to sleep on this and let the neurons regrow.

-- Dan (dan@nospam.com), September 19, 2004.

This is great to hear! Glad you've begun w/ the lessons and already find them useful. I'm sure you understand that they're not things to do once only--not a sequence to work through--but that the technique in each "Session" can become part of your "repertoire" of ways of working on every piece you perform. Eager to hear more from you!

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), September 19, 2004.

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