The Solo Instrumentalist
Perhaps you play the violin, clarinet or guitar?
For classical work, you may wish to record your performance in a familiar place, even your own home. In many ways, the solo instrumentalist has the hardest job of all in making a good record, so it’s important that you are relaxed and comfortable. All my equipment is portable, so I'll happily come to you. The only essential thing is a quiet environment. Your performance won’t be helped by road traffic noise, or the telephone ringing! However, I would recommend that you allow an additional session to critique and master your performance to your satisfaction. Coming to me for a session will also allow us to create a label and four-page booklet to complete your CD in a professional manner.
By all means record as much material and as many performances as you want to. Make the final selection of what will be included on the CD at the mastering stage.
Your performance may require some form of accompaniment. Obviously I can record the accompanist alongside your own performance, but why not consider doing both jobs yourself? Record, say, the piano accompaniment first and then your prime performance while listening to its playback. Truly it is then "All my own Work".
A note on timing. You may need information to keep you precisely in time as you play. I can provide a metronome, or a rhythm, or even a complete backing track on headphones. If you can’t bear the thought of wearing even my professional grade headphones as you perform – and many can’t – then we have a visual metronome available. Consistency of timing is so important.
In order to record your performance to the highest possible standard, I will need to experiment with choice of microphones - I have over thirty to choose from – and also their position relative to your instrument and within the room. Don’t be surprised if I ask you to run through your music several times while I change microphones and move them about the room, sometimes into unlikely places! You’d be amazed at how much difference this can make.
Incidentally, wind and brass players should be aware that the traditional method of recording their instruments, where the engineer sets up a mic in front of you and says, "blow into this" is seldom the best way. It may be OK on a stage surrounded by many other players, but in the studio, solo, it usually yields poor results. Try it if you want to, but try other ways as well!
I have knowledge of how most musical instruments generate their sound and this allows me to capture it best. As an example, a solo saxophone will usually be recorded by a microphone one or two meters away, rather than a microphone almost pushed down the bell.
Ensure that your instrument is in perfect condition. A new set of strings or a new reed will help your performance. Also, make sure you have spares with you, in case the unthinkable happens. Think about who you want in the studio with you while you are recording. The process is difficult enough without you feeling that you have to ‘perform’ for an audience. My room isn’t huge, so allow one, or at the most two people in with you.
Don’t forget that, at the end of the day, the most important part of the process is your performance! Make sure that you’re comfortable, in every way, and if there is anything about the situation, or my antics, that puts you off then say so and I’ll change it.