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#2021212 - 01/25/13 04:13 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: Hakki]
smh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/06
Posts: 30
Are you saying that they would stop listening after 30 seconds because of this piano's voicing? I would say that there are more obvious reasons. It also depends on what this video was submitted for.

There are also other types of mistakes, like those normal (?) slips during a live performance or competition. Those are unlike what you see in your video link. From what I can tell, the general expectation is that you have to do enough "one takes" to find one recording without those performance-type mistakes. I think that's what my son needs to learn how to do. He is used to one-shot performances. In some ways, recordings force you to focus on a higher level of consistency and perfection. Then again, recording might get you to become more conservative and safe.

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#2021239 - 01/25/13 04:46 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: smh]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2406
Originally Posted By: smh
Are you saying that they would stop listening after 30 seconds because of this piano's voicing? I would say that there are more obvious reasons. It also depends on what this video was submitted for.



You must make sure that the piano is well tuned and voiced, so that it won't hinder your son's performance, AND distract the judges' attention from the music. This is a prerequisite for a "professional recording". Usually a tuner is hired during a professional recording session to keep the piano in tune (if necessary) during the whole session.
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#2021244 - 01/25/13 04:51 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: AldenH]
smh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/06
Posts: 30
I apologize for setting this thread up to go in multiple directions. Blame it on my need to figure out what the important issues are with my son and recording. The pieces he is currently playing (that I listed in the original post) should indicate his general level, and he is not playing over his head. But there is his teacher's philosophy of always moving on to new pieces. For example, he is in the process of making a pass through all of Chopin's etudes rather than picking one or two to really master. They are doing the same thing with many Bach Prelude & Fugues. It seems that you can get away with this for performances, but not for recording. I'm trying to get him to settle on a repertoire for college auditions next year, but it keeps changing. New pieces are more interesting.


"It amazing how the 'permission to fail' of a recording session (as opposed to the single shot of a performance) can give a recording the color and inspiration (for lack of a better word) of a live performance with a physical freedom that really makes wrong notes less likely (if you're not worrying about getting it perfect the very first time with no second try - like in performance - you body relaxes and allows the work do be done unimpeded)."

My son has no nerves problems with performances or competitions. Mistakes (not fundamental issues of technique, tempo, or interpretation) don't bother him. The problem is that maybe these mistakes should bother him some more. It seems as though recording sessions could get him to focus more on perfection and consistency. Even when we do record, it's all about freedom and not worrying about what might be minor issues for live performances. Looking at the recordings we just created, there are long stretches where he is gazing off at the ceiling. His teacher tells him to focus on musicality and interpretation and to not worry about slips of the fingers. This gives him a good philosophy for performances, but it doesn't seem to be the right idea for recording.

It seems like you have to be a perfectionist for practice (or recording), but somehow lose that for performance. (I've seen some kids look miserable after performances I thought were pretty good.) My son has a good performance attitude, but can't seem to switch over to perfectionist for recording.

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#2021258 - 01/25/13 05:06 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: smh]
BDB Offline
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21292
Loc: Oakland
Tuned piano, definitely. Regulated and voiced will probably help playing, both technically and interpretively. Concert grand, well, I would not recommend any school where that would make a difference. I am sure that every music school has admitted piano students who have hardly ever played on a grand piano, let alone a concert grand.
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#2021264 - 01/25/13 05:14 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: smh]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2406
Originally Posted By: smh
It seems like you have to be a perfectionist for practice (or recording), but somehow lose that for performance. (I've seen some kids look miserable after performances I thought were pretty good.) My son has a good performance attitude, but can't seem to switch over to perfectionist for recording.


Let me remind you that in "professional" environment a no mistake performance is the norm. It has nothing to do with being a perfectionist. It is just normal and expected. Nothing special.
So, there is no such thing as "switching over to perfectionist mode" for recording.
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#2021304 - 01/25/13 06:13 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: smh]
ronde des sylphes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/08
Posts: 29
Loc: Scotland
Hi, smh. There have been some good points of view expressed; I'd like to add my thoughts. Firstly, so you know where I'm coming from, I'm an amateur pianist, but I do take professional lessons and advice: last year I made what I hope to all intents and purposes is a professional CD, using a professional engineer, equipment, a good piano and hall. So I have some experience of what the process involves.

Re audio editing versus an "honest" one-take recording: that is, I think, up to your moral stance. I would bet that some of the other submissions will be tweaked just that little bit.

You can get a perfectly serviceable sound comparatively cheaply: I've used a Rode NT5 pair and an Edirol R-09HR. In total that shouldn't cost more than £500. If you want to go for the fully professional recording, then the sound engineer should be able to bring his own equipment; however make sure they are mics suitable for piano recording. During my recording session (2 days for 65 mins final result, approx 7 hrs of takes) I played a Steinway Model D and the mics were Rode NT5 pair (close), Rode NT4 stereo and U87 pair.

A church is a good place to record, as previously suggested; of course try to find one with a decent piano. And do have it tuned and regulated properly in advance. The hire for a church will usually be a lot cheaper than a dedicated concert hall.

If you go the fully professional route, you're of course going to have to pay the engineer for his recording time, and for studio editing time, should you feel inclined.

Nikolas's comment: "..the pianist needs to deal with his/her performance while recording and NOTHING else. A person cannot deal with multiple issues (what the cameras are getting, the audio, the mics, etc). Other people need to take care of that..." Take that on board: that is very good advice indeed.

Spend a reasonable amount of time on setup, making sure the piano sounds decent. Don't put mics too close to the piano, as I did. You're likely to find pedal noise, even extraneous string noises, being generated. My recording(s) would have been blighted by them but for my engineer's skill with noise reduction techniques - and heaven alone knows how much time was spent cleaning everything up. (In passing Hakki, your recording is really rather nice, but there's certainly some pedal (or whatever) noise apparent).

People who are talking about "perfect" recordings: they don't exist. If you listen, and I mean really listen, closely to even the greatest pianists, you will hear the odd hints that it is a fallible human playing. That's even before you start to debate interpretation. However, that's not an excuse to avoid aspiring to a polished rendition.

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#2021313 - 01/25/13 06:31 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: BruceD]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17837
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: smh
[...] but one might assume that since it is a recording, then it is the absolute best that the musician can do. There is no place to say that it took two or twenty attempts to get the recording. That's the real basis for my original question.


I can be sure that many would argue that this is a grey area, but I would counter your observation by saying that "the best that the musician can do" surely doesn't involve "... in multiple takes." I would assume that the best a musician can do implies a single, played-through, unedited recording as in a live performance.

Regards,


A word of clarification : I should have written "multiple edits" not "multiple takes" in the above statement.

It shouldn't matter how many times you record the work(s) in question in trying to get a "good copy", but the final version for submission to an admissions jury I think should be one that is played through in one (final) take, with no editing from start to finish if you really are setting out to show "what the musician can do."

Regards,
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#2021315 - 01/25/13 06:38 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: BruceD]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5221
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: smh
[...] but one might assume that since it is a recording, then it is the absolute best that the musician can do. There is no place to say that it took two or twenty attempts to get the recording. That's the real basis for my original question.


I can be sure that many would argue that this is a grey area, but I would counter your observation by saying that "the best that the musician can do" surely doesn't involve "... in multiple takes." I would assume that the best a musician can do implies a single, played-through, unedited recording as in a live performance.

Regards,


A word of clarification : I should have written "multiple edits" not "multiple takes" in the above statement.

It shouldn't matter how many times you record the work(s) in question in trying to get a "good copy", but the final version for submission to an admissions jury I think should be one that is played through in one (final) take, with no editing from start to finish if you really are setting out to show "what the musician can do."

Regards,
It's cheating, but how will they know? I mean 99% of studio records go into editing mode immediately after the first day and I'm not ashamed to say that 3 out of 7 works in the duets I recently released had a couple of minor edits in...

And of course a recording is either way too bad a way to judge: Can you imagine someone working for 2 years on a work, and recording it continuously for a week to get things perfect? That would certainly be cheating as well I think...
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#2021320 - 01/25/13 06:50 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: Nikolas]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17837
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
[...]It's cheating, but how will they know? I mean 99% of studio records go into editing mode immediately after the first day and I'm not ashamed to say that 3 out of 7 works in the duets I recently released had a couple of minor edits in...

And of course a recording is either way too bad a way to judge: Can you imagine someone working for 2 years on a work, and recording it continuously for a week to get things perfect? That would certainly be cheating as well I think...


Aren't we writing about two different issues here? One is a recording for (possibly) commercial distribution where one has edited out mistakes for the ultimate and continued enjoyment of the listeners. That seems to be the norm - should be the norm - for commercially distributed recordings.

The other is a recording for submission to a jury which needs to decide if a potential student plays well enough to be admitted to a program of study. Most of us amateurs don't have the skills or the equipment to edit so well that edits wouldn't be apparent. As a judge, I don't think I'd want to pass judgment on a pianist whose submission was obviously full of edits. How would I know what the edits covered up and how, as a result, would I be able to judge the real potential of the candidate?

As for the more skilled editors asking "How would the jury know?" (if slick edits were so well done they were not revealed) that is a question of the integrity of the candidate, I would think. That decision rests on his shoulders, doesn't it?

Regards,

How is "recording it continuously for a week" any different from adding extra practice until the result is satisfactory?

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Estonia 190

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#2021325 - 01/25/13 06:59 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: smh]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5221
Loc: Europe
Indeed we are talking about two different things...

But I should note that despite my knowledge around music, etc, I've only heard 1 single edit in all the CDs I have. It's in the skythian suite by Prokofiev, in a Deutsche Gramophone recording... Nothing else, ever...

So while I consider myself skilled I have no idea how many edits take place in a recording... Others recordings at least! laugh

But the point remains: someone here is asking about advice. I know that it wouldn't be ethical, but if he handed me a few thousand dollars, I'd help him edit to 'perfection' the recordings (<-ok... not really... but anyhow). and the point is still there: A recording is a bad way to cut someone from auditioning... I think... (remember that I have some grudges against recordings and I deal with those in my PhD: A recording is a fake artefact (stream of numbers actually, since we're talking about digital recordings here) of something that happened in a given time. It's a photo of a specific point in time.

_____________________

Personally I'd accept a final exam with a final work, unknown to the pianists, that they have to learn in a certain period of time. I think that queen elisabeth competition does that with their performers: One year is for composers to work on a concerto (violin or piano) and the next year it's the performers time, who play that concerto (unknown to them).

Talk about fairness I think...
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#2021339 - 01/25/13 07:38 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: smh]
ABC Vermonter Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 236
I do not know about college audition pre-screening; I am not there yet. I do see more and more summer camp auditions changed from CD to DVD (or online video) submission. I suppose this makes editing less likely.

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#2021351 - 01/25/13 08:10 PM Re: Professional Recording [Re: Nikolas]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
It's cheating, but how will they know? I mean 99% of studio records go into editing mode immediately after the first day and I'm not ashamed to say that 3 out of 7 works in the duets I recently released had a couple of minor edits in...

And of course a recording is either way too bad a way to judge: Can you imagine someone working for 2 years on a work, and recording it continuously for a week to get things perfect? That would certainly be cheating as well I think...


The truth is...they don't know. The technology is good and easy enough that anyone can edit a recording and hide the splices. That's why live auditions are always strongly preferred.

But here's the trick - if you edit a recording so much that it makes you sound better than you truly are, then you will be found out and you can forget having a career in music and the respect of your peers and superiors.

There are basically two kinds of recordings in the world - recordings of performances that did exist and recordings of performances that never existed. Commercial recordings are almost always of the second kind. Audition and "live" recordings should be of the first kind.

That being said, there is some grey area. Volodos released a "live" recording of Rachmaninoff 3rd concerto that was actually built from 2 or 3 separate performances of the work. (Same orchestra, same hall, different nights.) Every note on the recording actually occurred live in front of an audience, just not the same audience!

My audition recording advice is rather simple:

Good Piano.
Good Room.
Good microphones.
4-5 takes.
Pick your favorite.
Mail it in.

Zoom 3HD cameras are good, but if you're going to buy one just for an audition recording, the $300 would be better spent on having a recording engineer come do it for you. They can also offer a lot of assistance, as many of them know the best halls, the best pianos, and the best microphone placements. They can also offer a great pair of ears and give good advice during a session.
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#2021552 - 01/26/13 09:54 AM Re: Professional Recording [Re: Nikolas]
smh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/06
Posts: 30
"Can you imagine someone working for 2 years on a work, and recording it continuously for a week to get things perfect? That would certainly be cheating as well I think..."

I see two different issues. One is working on a smaller set of pieces over the years to perfect them for competitions and recordings. Another is to spend a lot of time just to get a perfect recording. For the latter, you will be found out at the competition or follow-on live audition, although you get the recognition and opportunity to move on to that stage. In some cases, like summer festivals, selection is based only on the recording.

I think the first issue raises more questions. If you work a long time on just a few higher level pieces, you will be able to record them without much effort AND you will be able to show that ability at an audition or competition. Being involved with a regional piano competition that has elementary, middle, and high school categories, it's interesting to see the level of pieces played by very young pianists coming from big name studios or conservatories. In some cases, they pull it off. Is it because they are so good or because they are focusing only on a few competition pieces?

What are the trade-offs? It's hard to say. Our son's teacher has never focused on perfecting a competition repertoire although our son has been in competitions since he was 7. He rarely performs anything twice. I support that philosophy. He has a wide knowledge of music and superior sight-reading skills. But now that he is a junior in high school, the opportunities seem to be based on doing fewer pieces better. Recordings matter. These are different skills and they require a different mentality.

Our son played Debussy's Toccata from "Pour le piano" at a ninth grade state honors recital. He hasn't looked at it since. For his summer music festival application this year, he had a huge list of pieces he performed in the last year, including solo pieces, chamber music pieces, piano 4 hands, playing as part of an orchestra ensemble, playing a concerto movement, accompanying the high school choirs, playing in the pit for a musical, and playing on stage for a theater production. Last night, his chamber group played a movement of Brahms piano quintet in recital. It appears that we now have to refocus some of that breadth into bringing solo pieces to a higher level of perfection along with learning better recording skills. It would be nice to get feedback about what that level needs to be for a typical conservatory. Does anyone have links to performances that show that level?

We knew this would have to happen now that it's time to select and focus on a college audition repertoire. I only wish that we had picked one or two pieces a year to perfect and record years ago using some sort of formal recording process.

Thanks for all of the feedback on recording. I think we can use the church next door and our Zoom Q3HD for now, but I'm still unsure when it would be best to go to a more professional level. It might just depend on what the competition is doing. So, what are people doing for creating college/conservatory prescreening recordings?

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