Professional recording – dealing with bass notes

Posted In: How To Play

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    Gretchen Cover on #190926

    Does anyone have a suggestion to tone down repeated bass notes (those around low C) so that the notes sound clear and not like someone put their put foot on a sustain pedal for an entire piece?

    Anonymous on #190968

    I think it’s called “damping” and involves placing the flat palm of the hand on the string just after playing. I need to do it on Jesu which I’m currently learning, but I can’t do it! Any advice would be appreciated.

    Gretchen Cover on #190969

    That you, Livia. My problem is not playing; it is a technical recording issue. I am muffling notes but that is not quite enough. I am going to try using cello mutes to lessen the string vibrations. Has anyone tried this in a recording studio situation?

    BTW, you may want to go to youtube to see if anyone recorded the piece you are learning. Then you could watch another harpist play (presuming he or she recorded his/her self). I presume you are taking lessons so just keep working with your teacher – it will come to you with time and practice.

    Janis Cortese on #190970

    Maybe pluck the low notes closer to the soundboard so it’s a little drier and less resonant?

    Tacye on #190972

    If you don’t need any of your other base strings, especially below this string (not sure if you are talking about 7th C or not) you could try muffling them with a bit of cloth, especially those with a lot of shared harmonics with the string in question. This would of course change the resonance of the rest of the harp too.

    Depending on the piece and key is moving all the pedals down a notch an option?

    patricia-jaeger on #190973

    A professional harp mute consisting of a length of red felt to be woven between harp strings at the place where the player wants a softer sound, may be helpful. Players not wanting to disturb neighbors (in apartments, or warming up in a hotel room before a recital) have enjoyed this accessory. To mute the whole pedal harp you need two of these.. was sold by Lyon and Healy 25 years ago; perhaps currently also.

    Gretchen Cover on #190974

    Thank you for the suggestions. I have wool felt fabric used for piano blankets I can try. I will look online to see if there are harp mutes and call Lyon-Healy. I will try that along with the cello mutes, both together and separately. It was also suggested to move the mics further from the soundboard. The sound engineer has tubes and panels set up and will move them around. I guess this will be a process of add and subtract until the sound is right. Any other ideas certainly welcome. I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond.

    Alison on #191001

    I would play alternate notes rather than octaves – so 6th C and 7th C alternating on each ‘beat’ and so your 1 and 4 (or 1 and 3) will damp automatically. Does that help ?

    bernhard-schmidt on #191057

    If the problem is sound relatet please search for the so called “proximity effect” on microphones. Only certain microphones are suited for a close-up microphone position.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #191306

    Muting? That’s crazy. You’re playing a harp, and it’s supposed to sustain. It sounds like a problem with the engineer taking the wrong approach. The mic is probably too close. You also need mics that have the frequency range for the bass. Your upper strings might not be sustaining long enough for balance. The harp does not sound good in an acoustically dead environment like many studios, and does not sound natural. Digital recording methods are terrible for the harp.

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