I Want to Sound Good! Help me!

We're in uncharted waters. For most of my career, my interest in recording extended about as far as my need to occasionally capture a performance for an audition. Back in September 2019, I started exploring the world of recording technology and got my first pieces of outboard gear. When March 2020 came along, a lot of changes happened, not least of which was the need to start thinking about how I would present myself to the world without a concert hall to legitimize me and back me up. Going from performing in excellent acoustics to recording in a small bedroom environment required a lot of changes, and presenting this to the internet in a way that made sense to others...well, we're all working on it, aren't we?

Here's where you come in. You are a seasoned performer, maybe someone who has done a lot of recordings with someone else positioning the mic, aiming the cameras, and telling you when to play. Now, you want to stay relevant to the world, or your orchestra wants you to produce content, or you're just interested in using your time to make things you wouldn't have time for otherwise. Maybe you're tired of only being able to record solo Bach, or just interested in exploring multi-tracking and accompanying yourself.

There's good news! I can help. So much of what makes a recording sound polished is in details like microphone type and placement, the room the recording happens in...things we don't have much control over lately. Most musicians are not immersed in the nuances of EQ or reverb (because they're busy practicing, of course!), so they get rightly frustrated with the sound they hear coming back.

I may not be able to come to your house, move the microphone around for you, and hit the record button, but I can help you transform your provisional recording environment into a professional sounding production space. From EQ, reverb, and noise reduction to make it sound like you're on stage at Carnegie Hall, to accompaniment tracks that allow you the flexibility to play musically and get beyond the click track, to video production to present your new project to music-starved audience, let's talk about what I can do to facilitate your musical voice in this brave new world.

Sukyung Chun, double bass; Brent Edmondson, piano and A/V production

Sukyung Chun and I began our collaboration in June 2020 and the first of what we hope to be many videos together is embedded here. Sukyung, working in the limited circumstances of most musicians under COVID restrictions, recorded this video in a commercial kitchen with the Zoom Q2n-4k. Using Logic Pro X, I removed a good deal of the noise from the room and added some light ambiance to the playing, then sequenced the piano accompaniment to work with her rubato. In Adobe Premiere Pro, I cropped out some of the industrial elements in the video, added titles, and used stylistic choices to focus attention away from the setting and into the performance.

Interested in a similar treatment for your performance? Reach out at the Contact page.

Hal Robinson, Ella Sharpe, Isaac Polinsky, and Orion Miller perform Carmen by Georges Bizet, arranged by Bernard Salles and John Kennedy, mixed, edited, and produced by Brent Edmondson

After working with the incredible Dan MacDougall on our joint Youtube endeavor B², we arrived at a mutual frustration with Acapella, where the video layout is static through the whole video and the recordings all come from an iOS device built-in mic. I learned rather quickly that professional software was the place to go for this project, and the performers in this video (Hal Robinson, Ella Sharpe, Ike Polinsky, and Orion Miller) were my first guinea pigs! 

By coordinating microphone and camera placement, the ensemble gave me ample material to shape the finished product. Audio mixing and mastering took place in Pro Tools, and video assembly took place in Adobe Premiere Pro. The ability to change shots, crop video, and synchronize live performances with pre-recorded elements gave them plenty of room to stretch their creative muscles and deliver a professional product.

 

Tired of boring Acapella videos and looking to present your group to the world? Reach out at the Contact page.

Ken Bell, French Horn, performs Mendelssohn's Nocturne from A Midsummer Night's Dream with virtual orchestra and editing by Brent Edmondson

Ken Bell is my colleague and principal horn of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra. When the LSO and a few other orchestras started looking to Ken to produce content, he reached out to figure out how I could enhance his materials. We worked together to build an accompaniment for the Mendelssohn Nocturne using Spitfire Audio's Albion ONE sample library.

 

Ken played the horn part (which has been treated with EQ and a very subtle reverb effect to compensate for home recording), and I created tempo changes in my virtual orchestra to be sensitive to his nuances in pacing. After creating the audio track, Ken then played over top of his original recording to make the take you see here. In addition to the sonic treatments above, I was also able to remove a mysterious clicking sound from Ken's microphone so there would be no distractions from his beautiful playing.

A lot of us are using vertical video to get a professional look out of our home recording space without having to go crazy cleaning and storing things. I made a frame for Ken's video using still frames from the video, an elegant solution to another common film-from-home issue.

 

Don't just sit back and wait for the world to go back to normal. Let's work together! Reach out at the Contact page.

© 2020 by Brent Edmondson. All rights reserved.

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