The State of the Art: Are We Recording the Score or the Hall?

Nagoya University of the Arts
 The panelists from L to R: Ulrike Anderson,Daniel Shores, Akira Fukada and Morten Lindberg

Fortunately, I had an opportunity to make some report famous producer engineer’s classical music recordings presentation in the 29th Tonmeistertagung. It was organized by Verband Deutscher Tonmeister (VDT), held in Köln Messe, Germany on 17th to 20th November 2016. In this report, I picke up the " Are We Recording The Score Or The Hall? " This lecture organized by Tonmeisterin Mrs.Ulrike Anderson, Anderson Audio,ex Bayerischer Rundfunk. It held in not hard discussion form called " Round Table " for 60 minutes.

Who sit this table? Daniel Shores, from Sono Luminas, High-quality surround label in Virginia USA, Akira Fukada from dream window inc. ex CBS Sony ex NHK.  Morten Lindberg, from 2L, high-quality surround label in Norway.

Regarding this theme, they introduced about their symbolic case with playing the sound, for think about “What is the music recording? “ In this report, I report it and I made some additional interview with e-mail for more correctly reader understanding.

About the Presentation:

Ulrike Anderson (UA) : Welcome to our Round Table. I would like to introduce super specialist of the classical music recording and experimental acoustic recording. (omit) We will discuss different approach related to culture influences the compositions and actual recording situations. First of all, Mr. Morten Lindberg from 2L will give you a presentation.

Morten Lindberg, 2L

Morten Lindberg (ML): I will introduce my recording of "Mass for Modern Man". Ståle Kleiberg. Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Choir. It released in March, 2017 from 2L.

First of all, in general, Any musicians will make the music interpretation from the score. I think that as engineers too. I need to engineer to make a sonic interpretation from the score for the music productions. Traditionally our engineers are considered to record and reproduce the concert performance like a document. I think these interpretations are very important parts for us.
Now, Let's think about the particular project in the score. I am looking at this., We can clearly understand how I created this project. This score is a "Mass" work in the church music, which has a chorus of SATB, strings, woods.... When I was planning about the recording plan while looking at the score.  I found that there was a correlation between the chorus voices and the strings voices.
Photo of Musicians and Microphone Setup
About chorus and string instruments, You can see the direct correlation that the Soprano is 1st Vn, Alto is 2nd Vn, Tenor is Vla. Bass performs the same performance as Cello.Also, woodwind instruments have similar correlation. The arrangement of musical instruments placing in my recording is exactly 
placing those correlating groups in the same position. Please you can see the layout of the instrument. This green sector is soprano, but it is between the front row and the back row of 1st Vn. Flute is also the same voice part so it is this sector. On the other side, Alto placed the oboe over the rows before and after 2nd Vn. The listener is placed in the middle of this circle. And in front of the left, I arranged tenor and viola. In front of the right, we arranged the cello with the same voice part as the base.
Figure of Musicians and Microphone Setup

This recording is possible to offer with Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos. I will play the sound, but before that, I will introduce 2L typical 11.1ch microphone array. There are 7 ch DPA4041-S of Surround-Bed-ch, 4 ch of 4003 with custom built 130V phantom power Hight-Surround-ch and 4003 Contrabass for LFE ch. In the 11.1 channel playback system, these microphones are played directly from their each responding speakers. Today, we will play at 5.1 ch because this conference hall 's playback system. 
Spot Mic
Main Mic 

Please listen the Soprano and Baritone solo part. We used one Blumlein Pair AEA N8 ribbon microphones. This was not a direct hard center of one microphone = but set up a spot microphone so that the listener "Touches" baritone at the phantom center. In the 11.1 channel playback system, these microphones are played directly from their responding each Loudspeakers. Today, we will play at 5.1 ch from the relationship of playback environment. 

Ståle Kleiberg: Mass for Modern Man

Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Choir

Eivind Gullberg Jensen, conductor
Mari Eriksmoen, soprano Johannes Weisser, baritone

UA: Thank you so much. I just a question. You arranged that the performers circularly for the score and record it in surround. But I think that 88 or 98% of listener can listen to the stereo. How do you change this surround to stereo?

ML: Yes of course, It has to be done exactly. We approach that quite actively.  I always make individual mixes, not fold-down. For Blu-ray Disc, you can separately provide mixes of stereo 5.1 / 9.1 / Auro / Atoms on the same disc.  My recordings are from immersive format to Stereo and aims to be able to experience the same emotional experience. So I really have to consider that design from the beginning of the project.


Daniel Shores

Daniel Shores, Sono Luminus
Daniel Shores (DS): I will introduce my case from now.
The microphone array I actually use it. It is very similar to Mr. Lindberg 's!  The first, I would like to introduce "Elegy", a choral piece "The Skylark Vocal Ensemble" playing "Crossing Over". It composed by Daniel Elder. This album is a story. It deeply touches human spirit and it will be an album spun out with works of different composers until the last moment when a person dies. We wanted to able transport to the listener. As a result of thinking about how to transport listeners, we made different recording settings for each song, Because of the differences in the music. With the ensemble setup, we use the room to be able to transport the listener to this space, and allow the music to breathe. You hear in this piece where the call responses echo and we achieve this effect by placing the singers in different locations in the room.

Daniel Shores’s presentation 

But we did a seven pieces where it's for immersive and the ensemble completely surrounds microphone. And we will move for different impact by moving them to more traditional stax called SATB around front. What we will listen to it is the opening track “Elegy” where you will hear the ensemble surround you, and a great echo effect. Please listen.This recording was done in Boston's church. We set the placement of the performers based on the score. And I am actually trying to extract the emotional part of the melody. We are currently working on a studio in Virginia To focus on chamber music and new music.

Main Mic of Elegy

The great thing about new music is that we can work together with composers, to thinking about surround and Thinking about immersive audio. Sometimes It works well, Sometime we have to go to Plan B Plan C. For the most part, We try very hard to really capture the artist behind the music.

Daniel Elder 「Elegy」

Sono Luminus 

Mic Figure of ICE

Recording Session of ICE

Next, I would like to introduce the International Contemporary Ensemble's "In the Light of Air".  In this work, the composer decided to place the instrument around the main microphone.The main microphone has arranged five DPA 4003 and the height channel also Schoeps MK2S. While I was watching photos during recording, there are many spot microphones, but actually I just only used a piano spot microphone a little. But the musician feels comforting that there is a spot microphone.I think that the piano feels something different, because it was a prepared piano. There was also a part which rubs low bass string with a bow and plays. They just were not speak loud enough to be audible in the room.During the recording, the composer controlled the electronics in the room with the musicians. In contemporary music, when using electronics and synthesizers, we not only record and mix on the line, we set up speakers in the room with the musicians and play and record in the space. As a result, the experience for the listeners is far more natural and the performance comes more quickly for the musicians as all of the elements are part of the performance, not delivered to them in headphones.

In the Light of Air

International Contemporary Ensemble
Anna Thorvaldsdottír
Sono Luminus 

Next is the work of Cello, electronics and 8 strings. Peter Gregson is a cellist and composer. I will show you how we recorded the synthesizer. We wanted to paning the synthesizers to everywhere in the surround. The synthesizer placed in the control room and set up a speaker for that where in the same place of the musician. By doing so, the cello and synthesizers mix well in the actual work, it is an impression that you listen to organic performance. 

Recording of Cello Solo
Mic Figure of Touch
Recording of Strings

Also, with these and 8 strings of strings, I made two layers above and below and placed it on 9.1 ch.


Peter Gregson

UA: Thank you so much. The same question as before, how do you change this surround to stereo?

DS:  I need to think about the mix of surround and stereo completely separately.Sometimes that way depends on what it is. We will sometimes use mostly the main forward facing microphone, rolling off the low frequencies in the rear microphones and blending them in. Sometimes, if all of the content in the rear channels are drastically different, I will try to use panning in the stereo field to give them all a sense of space. 

Akira Fukada

Akira Fukada,  dream window inc. 

Akira Fukada(AF) : The first I says, My thought of these theme. I am thinking.

''Are Music recording is to capture faithfully sound to score?'' or 
''Are music recording is to capture the performance space?''  Humm..
This question is very difficult to answer. That is very philosophical inquiry.

Listeners to music recording don't need to make sense of the reason beyond enjoyment.
Good recording should give the listener aesthetic satisfactions. also give a spatial impression of the recording work outlooks may to the original sound. And therefor, The music recording not record of the fact, that to create a deep sense within the listener in that sense. It is not prerequisite of good music recording to capture the space that is being played.
Akira Fukada's presentation

 And one more thing difference of recording and the actual performance is whether you visually see the musicians. Since there is no visually effect listeners must genuinely feel the music from hearing alone.
This is the difficulty and artistry of recording. The same applies to the questions of whether to use stereo surround 3D?  Because every people imagining. It is possible to obtain the aesthetic satisfactions in Stereo. Surround can present a larger sense of space. However, we can’t say that surround has more advantage than stereo for music playback. Also 3D can sense of real space more easily, But it doesn't mean aesthetic satisfactions is obtained.
 Classical music. The bass of the recording is faithful to the score.What faithful to the score? 
Objective score reading, Historical and academic to clarify the intent of the composer.
The composer knows the special performance influence the music composition.
 For example, Polytope of Xenakis has composed the music of arranging the orchestra on four sides surrounding the audience. It must be played in a similar arrangement to faithfully played with the score.
 The music recording have to be faithful to the score, there is need to include element in performance of the composers era. So it is to make a spatial impression of the era. Japan and European has very different culture especially living environment. European has block and brick environment. But Japan has wooden and paper environment. It means difference of the reverberation feeling.

The Organ (5.0)
Here we introduce two kinds of organ. That is to consider the relationship between organ and space.The first one is a large pipe organ in the concert hall, which is the instruments themselves with the playing space, and the recording needs to capture the one in which the instrument and space are united while conscious of the space. The second organ is an organ set up in a small church, but its location does not have such a reverberation, but rather the spatial elements that make Bach's music feel dignified are few and the sound of the organ itself is recorded mainly. 

4 Organs - with Supernal Sound
Tetsuya Kan, Minako Tsukatani 
Naxos Japan

Violin Concerto (5.0+4=9.0)

It is a violin solo with orchestra recorded in 9.0ch 3D.

I usually set omni square using four omnidirectional microphones for the natural reverberation of the hall, due to the height surround. By doing so you can get the natural reverberation of the hall.  

Studio Recording (5.1) 

One example of movie soundtrack. The microphone is placed in the upper of the strings section to make the sound. Because it is a studio recording, we are making space feeling with all artificial reverb. 

Noh at Noh theaters (5.0) 

It is a recording of Noh,  but it is 5 simple microphones recording, to feel the natural Noh theater sound. 

It is very Japanese-like feeling. I think that it will probably take five more hours for us to talk ....

UA: The same question, how do you change the surround to the stereo?

AF: Of course, I love surround sound. But just thinking about the situation of the listener .... Question to the audience, how many people have a 3D playing environment at home? 1.2 ...I think 3D and surround are very wonderful. But however, many people may not be able to listen. In my opinion, I think that feelings will reach the heart of people as well perhaps even in stereo.

UA: I hope that 3D will give us more emotions. It is quite difficult to do it in stereo. Thank you very much.

Ulrike Anderson, Anderson Audio

Ulrike Anderson
UA: I am probably doing the most traditional approach. I will introduce the recording of Symphony No. 2 of Brahms of Norway Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. 

Someone had to bring home the Brahms Symphony home. It made a recording at a concert hall just around the sea side ''harbor'' in Norway. You will think aboutsomething about this.How can you record in the environment? I've recorded a lot in the quiet concert hall so far. At the Carnegie Hall in New York, there are many subways going between one symphony. This is the harbor, 5 boats were anchored there. But this hall was the quietest hall I have ever visited, no noise heard in the hall. There was just music and a beautiful hall.Mr. Stefan Flock also said that if you have a good ensemble, a good hall, enough time and a good microphone you can easily record good. But that is a trick!!!

Ulrike Anders's presentation

The recording method, we used Decca Tree which is a very classical method. 5 Neumann TLM50 for Decca Tree LCR & LL – RR. There are 2 outriggers, and behind it are two DPA4006 for 
Abs and 2 Neumann KM130 for Surround. And we set spot microphones for the each sections. The client of the recording who Orchestra, has asked us to produce stereos for high resolution downloads and vinyl. The vinyl that disappeared once, now is back. We have to make 24/96, stereo 16/44.1, stereo Master for IT (MfIT), stereo for vinyl and HD 5.1 in 24/96.Decca has a very strong C ch. Many basses come from C ch. (It is good for vinyl.)Let's play the 4th movement.

Symphony No 2 In D Major, Op 73
Stavanger Symphony Orchestra & Thomas Zehetmair

Sso Recordings 

I am just introduce interesting thought. In addition, this recording uses 4 different reverbs. Probably  as soon as "Audio Police" comes and get me. But, when mixing with such recording, maybe you need something like this. This is my case. Mixing was done at Skywalker's sound stage. I would like, Morten to ask me something about my approach. I'd like to get to Morten ask few questions.

ML : When you mix like that, please aesthetic approach go to mix like that. How do you work the contents of the main microphone?

Front View of Main Mic
Side View of Main Mic 

UA: The 7 mic main system lays the basis for a very powerful sound.  But in this time, the organization of string instruments is not big, So we have make some miracles in the mix. Brahms' symphonies are so complex that one sometimes has to highlight some lines that might be buried by other voices. 
Therefore, We used some spot microphone. 
Stavanger Concert Hall
Jim Anderson 

Also, I tried several reverbs on string instruments. For woodwind instruments, we used a different type of reverb to connect front and back. I think that 6 cello and 4 contrabass is not enough for Brahms' symphony. I prefer 1st Vn. 16, cello 10 and contrabass 6 to 8 people. Oh, "Audio Police" comes to me. That is my compressor. (Jim Anderson). Eventually, We did another mastering with record and high-Res stereo.

The Recording Philosophy :
I ‘d like to know more deep their philosophy. I did E- mail interview about their recording philosophy.

Q. The theme of this presentation was ''Are We Recording The Score Or The Hall? ."
It is so difficult question but I am so enjoyed. I 'd like to ask for my question. What are you recording? Please tell us in concise, about your "Recording Philosophy" and "Goal of the Recording".

Morten Lindberg, 2L
The beauty of the recording arts is that there is no fixed formula and no blueprint. It all comes out of the music. Every project starts out by digging into the score and talking with the composer, if contemporary, and the musicians. It is not our task as producers and engineers to try to re-create a concert situation with all its commercial limitations. On the contrary; we should make the ideal out of the recording medium and create the strongest illusion, the sonic experience that emotionally moves the listener to a better place.

Daniel Shores, Sono Luminus 
It is my feeling that the hall is the “other instrument”. I wouldn’t say that i am “recording the hall”, but I would say that the hall, room, church, or venue can determine the outcome of a great recording. I feel that the hall both can enhance the listeners experience and connection to the artists performing, while acting as the glue that holds binds all of the musicians together. My philosophy first and foremost is to capture the most accurate representation of the musicians while delivering the listener a better listening position than would ever be possible from any one seat in a hall. I want to draw out ever nuance and subtlety in the music being performed.

Akira Fukada, dream window inc.
There are various kind and styles in music, the production style is not one. The Recording is transfer music in the form of a ''work'' and it can not be produced alone.To record the ''New Music''. I think that composer and musicians, and sound engineer producer will making works while sharing the musical value with to going to same direction.To record the ''Classical Music''. it is important to consider it in the historical meaning of music and interpretation of today's performance, to recording with the most useful recording method (In that mean as well, it is important, it is all working members have a same musical direction.) Anyway, I think that the recording music's core is the music. What is music recording? We think about it.I think that it is "dialogue" is music production and music recording. for this mean, The recording is very difficult. Whenever you record, music asks you. While searching for the answer, I think that it is the act of recording that we always think "music" and "sound" while "dialogue". I don't have a recording philosophy in the sense of aiming at something. It may be, How I can get good relation to music and become with honest. Also the goal is also invisible. I think that the goal is far beyond how far I can grow through music. 

Ulrike Anderson, Anderson Audio
My recording philosophy is to present the listener with the best (sounding) representation of the piece of music that being performed. I hope it gives the listener joy and transports the musicians interpretation and stays true to the score of the performed piece. I want music to be heard and enjoyed.To achieve this result I need to know the score very well before meet the conductor to talk about his or her interpretation. Ideally that meeting takes place before the recording session. A following step is the choice of room that the piece will be recorded in. Here the acoustics of the stage area are more important that the diffuse answer from the room in order for the musicians to play hear each other and give their best performance. In an ideal world there is a concert hall that combines a great response of the room and good size for the piece with an excellent acoustic on stage.Then I would also like to know before the recording what kind of sonic representation the conductor/orchestra would like the recording to achieve. I will try to “translate” their wishes into technical terms with the recording engineer.The main microphone system and selection is done in close cooperation with the recording engineer and also depends on the release formats. For example a production that will have a vinyl release needs a strong mid signal and stable coherent bass in the middle to work. A Decca Tree might be a better choice then a A-B omni main microphone system.Sometimes the complexity of systems rely a bit on the capability of the engineer and technical equipment at hand.

 The panelists Ulrike Anderson,Daniel Shores, Akira Fukada and Morten Lindberg on 19.Nov 2016 in Koelnmesse

Ulrike Anderson who organized as the chair of this round table in during my mail interview, "The title of the presentation was phrased a little bit provocative in order to attract some attraction.Every one of the four panelists has their own way of achieving remarkable results that stand for itself." 

We understand that "The philosophy of recording" organizes everything including selection of halls, placement of musical instruments, technical settings such as main microphones and spot microphones. All for "The wonderful result". This "The recording philosophy" and "The Production" are completely linked, and I felt it is very important to think about these for us. The report on "TMT The philosophy of the Classical Music Recording" in the second issue is ends with this for the moment, but I would like to continue to think about" The recording of the music". I appreciate to every presenter, who generously introduced their works and philosophy. Thank you so much.

This report was originally contributed to Japanese PROSOUND on June 2017, Vol.199 issue.