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Topic: Bowed Tam-Tam again

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  1. #1

    Bowed Tam-Tam again

    OK, I have the Tam-Tam making a reasonable sound now, and have done a bit of exploratory recording, so I have some questions.

    Firstly, to those who are more versed in recording than I am (which is anyone since Thomas Edison), how do you go about recording a gong/tamtam?

    Secondly, to those who are interested in the samples, what would you like? Do you want something aimed at sound design, or an instrument that is true to life, and could be used in mock-ups that are later destined for live performance?

    My initial thought was to close mic several spots on the tam tam, and provide each sample in 5 or 6 tracks, so that you can balance the various resonances as you wish - a bit like the way that Mikrophonie is performed. The problem with this is that every mic gets a lot of bass energy, whilst the higher harmonics are only in certain spots, so the resultant summing creates a massively boosted bass. Also the closeness of the mics means that the doppler effect, created by the slight swing of the tam-tam, is strongly emphasised. On the other hand, having the mics that close does bring out some of the detail in the harmonics.

    The other way I thought of doing it was simply a stereo pair a few feet away, so that you get the more realistic sound that an audience would hear. THe problem is that that sound isn't as detailed as you might think. Also I seem to be having to whack up the gain to ridiculous levels to get a good recording at this distance,which is an issue. If I whack it up on the desk I'm getting unacceptable levels of hiss, and if I whack it up in Cubase I'm getting really noticeable digital artifacts.

    It could just be because I bought really cheap and nasty equipment at school (we have a Behringer desk for a start), but it's more likely I'm just being an idiot. So far my recording experience has been with heavy rock, so the question of signal to noise ratios has never been an issue. I'm hoping someone with more experience of sampling is going to tell me I'm doing something totally wrong.

    Anyhow, I'm going to keep plodding on with the project, but any advice/wishlists would be welcome.
    David

  2. #2

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    The problem, as you point out, it that using a std. x-y pattern doesn't give the ambience that being in a decent hall would give. That sort of sound just swirls -around- the room as the bow is drawn... at least in a good space. Any chance you could do a blumlein and then perhaps some deep audience mics... or a PZM off to the sides?

    Also, when you record, can you also include the 'gong in the bucket of water' variation on this effect? I guess you'd need three guys... one to record, one to bow and one to work the gong in and out of the bath. I used to -love- that effect as a student <ahem> 'composer'.

    Best,

    ---JC

  3. #3

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    Quote Originally Posted by Suntower View Post
    The problem, as you point out, it that using a std. x-y pattern doesn't give the ambience that being in a decent hall would give. That sort of sound just swirls -around- the room as the bow is drawn... at least in a good space. Any chance you could do a blumlein and then perhaps some deep audience mics... or a PZM off to the sides?
    Sorry, I should have been clear - I already was using a Blumlein pair, and somehow it just wasn't cutting it. You're certainly right about the sound being elsewhere in the room. I was stood directly behind the tam tam, and the mics got the sound of a tiny gurlge in my throat louder than they did the tam tam. I will try getting some PZM mics - it's quite a nice space I'm in, so an ambient version should work well.

    Also, when you record, can you also include the 'gong in the bucket of water' variation on this effect? I guess you'd need three guys... one to record, one to bow and one to work the gong in and out of the bath. I used to -love- that effect as a student <ahem> 'composer'.
    I'll do my best with this one. The problem is, at the gain I'm currently using, the mics are picking up every last creak of the bow, the sound of my clothing moving against itself, the ticking of clocks several blocks away. The whole lowering the gong thing could prove an aural mess; but if I sort out my problem with level I'll give it a go.
    David

  4. #4

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    I think you need at least 3 mics. And maybe none of them right in front. I've played that sound in performance and it sounds -so- different from the audience perspective. I think it's the VERTICAL element that matters a lot... ie. the distance from the floor. I seem to recall that the sound was -very- different depending on whether I was near the floor (on my knees) while playing, vs. standing. Near the floor the sound was muddy. Standing I got almost nothing but highs and no body. So I think you need a helper to move mics around while you audit.

    Sounds like a FUN project!

    ---JC

    Quote Originally Posted by Pingu View Post
    Sorry, I should have been clear - I already was using a Blumlein pair, and somehow it just wasn't cutting it. You're certainly right about the sound being elsewhere in the room. I was stood directly behind the tam tam, and the mics got the sound of a tiny gurlge in my throat louder than they did the tam tam. I will try getting some PZM mics - it's quite a nice space I'm in, so an ambient version should work well.



    I'll do my best with this one. The problem is, at the gain I'm currently using, the mics are picking up every last creak of the bow, the sound of my clothing moving against itself, the ticking of clocks several blocks away. The whole lowering the gong thing could prove an aural mess; but if I sort out my problem with level I'll give it a go.

  5. #5

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    Quote Originally Posted by Pingu View Post
    Secondly, to those who are interested in the samples, what would you like? Do you want something aimed at sound design, or an instrument that is true to life, and could be used in mock-ups that are later destined for live performance?
    Hey Pingu,

    I'm not sure what the difference in these two options are. The second option sounds exactly what I was looking for; I am interested in several different versions of the sound that could be used in mock-ups and as effects in other works.

    I wish I could help you in the recording domain, but I have no experience there.

    Thanks for all your effort! I look forward to whatever you can come up with!

  6. #6

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    Pingu,

    there are special mics on the market what I think are good for this recording, the special bass-drum mics and a pair of (condencer) mics arround the tam tam.

    Interesting, in the past I thought only the big condensor mics are good to record the bass frequencies well, but with my ZOOM H4n recorder I found out that this little mics record them very well.
    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  7. #7

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    Quote Originally Posted by bond6007 View Post
    I'm not sure what the difference in these two options are.
    Well with the first option I'd simply be micing the tamtam with mics about two inches away - probably 5 or 6 of them - and capturing how each part of it oscillates for each bowing, then the user could choose how to balance each track. It's awfully unrealistic, since there are lots of frequencies that have very, very low energy, and never make it futher than a few inches from the tam tam, which suddenly become quite prominent. But it makes for great soundscapes.

    Once you get a few feet away the sound is much less exciting. I can't tell it a part from a bowed cymbal. Although apparently the tam tam I'm using isn't the best. It's cast, and has thick edges, whereas our percussion teacher says you can get ones that are beaten, and have much thinner edges, which take a bow better. I'll see if I can get hold of one.
    David

  8. #8

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    Any update on this project, Pingu?

  9. #9

    Re: Bowed Tam-Tam again

    Quote Originally Posted by bond6007 View Post
    Any update on this project, Pingu?
    Not good! Ideally I was going to go into school over the Christmas break and do some recording. That way I would have got absolute silence, which never happens during a working week. I was also hoping to borrow a second tam-tam from Foden's brass band, who rehearse just down the road...

    ...then somebody inexplicably let all the janitorial/grounds staff take their vacation simultaneously, so the site had to be locked down, and left in the hands of a third-party security firm, from the minute school finished until 8am today, when school starts again. It was all done in a very sneaky way - we got emails telling us about it shortly after the end of school in December, so the place was already locked down, with noone to complain to, and no way to ask if any exceptions could be made.

    Bottom line is I couldn't go in, and I'm not sure when the next time is that it'll be quiet enough. The next vacation is in 5 weeks, and I don't think the same kind of lockdown will happen then, but there will probably be all kinds of sporting teams and clubs hiring the site too. I'll have to do some re-thinking and get back to you.
    David

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