I was so proud of my students for all of their hard work this semester. They put on a two-hour-long percussion ensemble concert featuring some incredibly difficult works by David Pegel and Zack Browning. To add to the pressure, both composers came to hear seven(!) of their works performed.

You can imagine, then, the disappointment I felt when I found out that something had gone wrong and the concert recording didn’t work. Thankfully, this turned into an opportunity: we were asked if we would like to record something to make up for it.

As much as I would have liked to have recorded all of the works from the concert, it just wasn’t feasible. We had a very narrow window of time, so I decided to pick (arguably) the most difficult work: Zack Browning’s Flying Tones. (Zack also loved the way these guys played and mentioned how cool it would be if we recorded it. Challenge accepted!)

And wow, did these guys deliver! We only did two takes, both of which were good; the second one was about as close to a perfect live recording as I could imagine. This recording contains no audio splicing whatsoever, and very little audio editing in general (more on that below). It’s one continuous take…that’s about all there is to say about it.

Special thanks to Doug Tejada for his audio recording skills on this!

Because I always like to talk about the recording a bit, I’ll go ahead and share a few tidbits:

1. For some reason, approximately the first 90 seconds of video on the audio take we used didn’t work. I managed to sync up the video from the other take, running it at 102% speed to accommodate for the slight difference in tempi. I was shocked as to how natural it looks—I can’t tell the difference, and I’m the one that made it. (Thank goodness we did have the other take of video to use for this!)

2. There was a similar scenario with the chimes from 7:17-7:43. That one was my fault—I didn’t capture the player on my second camera. No worries, though, I used the other take and played it at 102% speed. (Amazing how consistent they were—the entire second run was apparently 2% faster than the first one.)

3. There are three audio edits: two spots with a couple of whiffed cymbal notes and one spot where the vibe player dropped a few notes. I just recorded those missing notes myself and inserted them they were needed. The acoustic is slightly different, but they go by so fast in context, it’s hard to notice. For example, at 6:51-6:53, the vibe player only played the last two notes; the first eight notes are me playing on a separate day in a different room. I toyed around with the EQ and pan a little bit to match it up, and it’s almost impossible to tell. See if you can figure out where the cymbal notes are! (I actually started the upload, wrote this part, then cancelled the upload to mess around with the pan a little more to get the stereo field just right.)

4. My favorite part is the trade-off that happens from 9:31-9:55 on the video. After we finished the second take, I had them play that one part again and zoomed the cameras in on the individual players. Yet another instance of what you see is not what you get, as discussed in a previous blog entry: the video you see is a completely different take from the audio. The fast cuts make for a cool effect.

5. Doug (the aforementioned audio guru) frequently leans forward and comes into the frame. I’m fairly certain he didn’t intend to make a cameo appearance on this video. I didn’t notice it when we recorded, because he was out of frame when I checked. No worries, though, he was always in the bottom left corner; after the expertise I gained from editing my last video, it was a breeze to take some different footage and overlay part of it over Doug’s head...hopefully that makes enough sense alongside this photo.

Now you see him, now you don't!

6. There were a couple of times when my aging camcorder, used for the closeup shots, got some strange digital artifacts. I managed to cover them up fairly well using the same technique as #5 above, but unfortunately the frames sort of skip a bit. Nothing that can be done about that, so once or twice you see a player freeze up for a couple of frames.

Oh, and before I forget: thanks so much to (left to right) Xander Southern, Gunnar Bergan, Darshan Jhaveri, Ethan Cassell, and Chris Hooper for the fantastic playing, Doug Tejada for the audio, and Zack Browning for the monster piece!

And now…enjoy the recording!

AuthorBenjamin Charles