In Acoustic Magic (part 1), we talked about techniques for getting great sounds from players in an indie rock band that plays with a horn trio. Now it is time to turn our attention to Hindugrass, a band that brings together Sarod, Tablas, guitar, cajone, percussion, and a string quartet. Some of the approaches will be strikingly familiar, others will be more novel.
Our goal in any tracking sessions is to get the best performance from the artist and the best sounds from the instruments. This begins with an understanding of how the musicians like to play together, how they like to hear other instruments and the click, and how the instruments, the rooms, and the microphones all interact.
String quartet players have a way of listening to each other and playing with each other to make the sound of the quartet greater than the sum of its parts. And it’s almost impossible to achieve that dynamic balance and synergy when recording one instrument at a time. Booths A and B are each large enough to record four string players, but Ian decided to use the Music Room for that purpose because the other, more delicate instruments in the ensemble would actually sound better in the smaller acoustic environments of the Booths. Ian again took advantage of the large space and numerous gobos to provide separation for each instrument, yet retaining the sound of the ensemble in the room. Here’s Ian getting things rolling on Day 1:
And here’s an overview of the gobo arrangement: