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Didgeridoo & Clap stick recording Dynamic Microphones
Old 3rd April 2019
  #1
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TSM's Avatar
Didgeridoo & Clap stick recording

Hi, I have been asked to record a couple of Aboriginal players when I go to Australia soon. The recording will be somewhere in the outback away from external sounds. I wanted some advice on how to mic this up. There is the didge player and a seperate clap player who will chant/speak/sing. I have 4 inputs to record. I'm thinking SM58 on the vocals. Not sure to close mic the didge or have it back a few meters and capture a stereo image?
What do you think? Thanks as always
Old 3rd April 2019
  #2
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octatonic's Avatar
I'm Australian and I've tracked didge before.
I used an M88.
Old 3rd April 2019
  #3
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by TSM View Post
Hi, I have been asked to record a couple of Aboriginal players when I go to Australia soon. The recording will be somewhere in the outback away from external sounds. I wanted some advice on how to mic this up. There is the didge player and a seperate clap player who will chant/speak/sing. I have 4 inputs to record. I'm thinking SM58 on the vocals. Not sure to close mic the didge or have it back a few meters and capture a stereo image?
What do you think? Thanks as always
it depends

outdoors in the outback or in a hut or larger building

will you have stands for the mikes?
they wont be able to hold mikes

what is the relative loudness of the claps, singing, and didge?
how close will the two performers be?

how long is the didge being used? or is it a curved one ?

I would want to be a few feet from the end of the didge
and then mike the other person from a spot taht balances the sound

adding a stereo pair would not be bad to have a choice later
Old 4th April 2019
  #4
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TSM's Avatar
Thanks for the info. This is really a turn up and record gig...It will be outside so I will take a windshield/jammer plus a stand or two. No idea of loudness or closeness or even type of Didge...
Would it be good to mic the didge player at the mouth end as well as the bottom?
Thanks
Old 4th April 2019
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSM View Post
Would it be good to mic the didge player at the mouth end as well as the bottom?
Thanks
No, just at the bottom.
Didgeridoo acoustics/ yidaki acoustics/ didjeridu acoustics
Physics of the didgeridoo (didjeridu or yidaki)
Old 4th April 2019
  #6
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

I've recorded Didgeridoo in the field before - I used a Sanken stereo mic and a portable DAT recorder. Yes, it was a while ago!

The big thing to be aware of is the reflections coming off the floor (or if you're out in the bush - then the ground, rocks etc), and whether this forms an integral part of the player's sound or not.

It's definitely not a 'set & forget' type instrument so do expect to move the mic(s) around multiple times before you're happy. And make sure you place yourself a good distance away with a pair of closed cans on in order to make that call otherwise the direct sound will seriously colour your judgement.

Finally, didg may seem like it's just a smooth, constant kind of drone but good players can make crazy volume fluctuations as part of their performance so, as always, watch those levels!

Last edited by James Lehmann; 4th April 2019 at 03:27 PM..
Old 6th April 2019
  #7
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Haigbabe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TSM View Post
Hi, I have been asked to record a couple of Aboriginal players when I go to Australia soon. The recording will be somewhere in the outback away from external sounds. I wanted some advice on how to mic this up. There is the didge player and a seperate clap player who will chant/speak/sing. I have 4 inputs to record. I'm thinking SM58 on the vocals. Not sure to close mic the didge or have it back a few meters and capture a stereo image?
What do you think? Thanks as always
‘Somewhere in the outback’ is not really defining the venue. The Outback is probably equal in size to Alaska. The venue therefore could be a town hall with reasonable acoustics, a civic centre with a carpeted floor, or it could be a tin shed. Or somebody’s veranda. (Some surprisingly good recordings have been made in shearing sheds btw).

The didge is a loud-ish instrument and clapsticks are percussion instruments. They work well together. More often than not the pitch and resonance of typical Australian clapsticks is high-ish pitch with fast decay. And if you’re recording in a dry acoustic, it’ll be rapid decay.

On some occasions in bush settings, I’ve seen didge players use an empty cardboard carton at the end of the didge as a sort of resonance chamber. It’s a resonant instrument and players do enjoy its overtones, hence a ‘chamber’ of sorts to enhance that aspect.

On my more recent recordings (featuring perhaps Australia’s most current iconic player) I offered choices of the finest German etc mics. The player specified an SM57.

Be aware of the dynamic range (as mentioned) as well as other techniques that good players use such as Kookaburra sounds, the ‘hoot’ note etc which actually use less of the fundamental and can appear to drop the level of input if mic placement is not ideal.

If the singer is also playing clapsticks, it’s likely the voice mic will also get a good amount of clapsticks too. The dynamic range of solo singers in these settings is typically not huge so chances are you’ll be able to get fairly close.

Maybe see if you can get a photograph of the venue and get back to us. Maybe also find out which language they’re singing in, there are hundreds of languages and some of them have certain characteristics which are worth paying attention to.

Good luck,

Haigbabe
Old 6th April 2019
  #8
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TSM's Avatar
Thanks for the great replies, I'm feeling a little more confident now OK, so not going to mic the mouth end...I got this gig through a friend, so I'm not in contact with the players directly. As regards location, its a 2 hour drive from Mt Isa if that helps. No idea of the dialect. Cool info about a cardboard chamber...I do have a beta57, I think I would try that first for the Didge. Maybe a 58 for the vox and stereo setup for the overall image. I only have 4 inputs.

Haigbabe intrigued by Australia's most current iconic player...do tell Did you just use a 57 or did you have a multi setup for stereo?
Old 6th April 2019
  #9
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Ive field recorded a Dig plus others with a simple MKH MS rig (MKH 50/30)
Very good natural balance from an overhead boom in full Rycote
No need for close mic ing imho.

Roger
The player was naked but clothed in grey ash, a great camouflage
Old 6th April 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Ive field recorded a Dig plus others with a simple MKH MS rig (MKH 50/30)
Very good natural balance from an overhead boom in full Rycote
No need for close mic ing imho.

Roger
Yes, I prefer this approach too, but using 40/30. But not too close is certainly the secret.

Last edited by David Spearritt; 7th April 2019 at 01:01 AM..
Old 7th April 2019
  #11
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Haigbabe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TSM View Post
Thanks for the great replies, I'm feeling a little more confident now OK, so not going to mic the mouth end...I got this gig through a friend, so I'm not in contact with the players directly. As regards location, its a 2 hour drive from Mt Isa if that helps. No idea of the dialect. Cool info about a cardboard chamber...I do have a beta57, I think I would try that first for the Didge. Maybe a 58 for the vox and stereo setup for the overall image. I only have 4 inputs.

Haigbabe intrigued by Australia's most current iconic player...do tell Did you just use a 57 or did you have a multi setup for stereo?
Hi TSM,

Your approach sounds like a good starting point. In the YouTube example posted above by DS you can hear that the sticks are quite present and the singing is way less focused. A good example of what to avoid perhaps.

And yes, I’ve recorded that player a number of times, he is perhaps the most current icon in that genre. But there are many, many fine players other than him.

Please don’t say dialects. Prior to British Invasion, there were hundreds and hundreds of aboriginal nations and hundreds of languages. I’ve recorded songs and pronunciation guides in a number of different aboriginal languages and some of them have some exquisite nuances.

Over the decades I’ve recorded the first aboriginal opera, the first aboriginal requiem, the first aboriginal classical opera singer, the first aboriginal song book, several ‘welcome to nation’ addresses in different languages etc. I’ve studied with centres of learning on Aboriginal art, culture and performance and also studied didge performance. The didge originated in the northern areas of Australia where the termites would naturally eat out the centre of timber, forming a ready made tube. Since colonisation the instrument has become ubiquitous and is found throughout the world. It’s development has been interesting and varied. You can make a didge from bamboo, and even improvise by using a vacuum cleaner hose and pipe. As its tradition is therefore living and growing, there is plenty of room for you to interpret the sounds you hear on the day to suit what you think is appropriate. Enjoy what will be a singularly unique opportunity.

And to answer your question, here’s William playing an encore in a concert I recorded last year.....

YouTube

Oh, and take light clothes, Mt Isa and surrounds is very, very hot.

Haigbabe
Old 8th April 2019
  #12
Lives for gear
Very much unlike the OP's intended context, here is a short sample of didgergidoo in a conventional orchestral setting.

Milab MP30 boundary zone mic on the floor about 20 cms in front of the end opening was used.....and even if you don't have such, a conventional condensor mic laid on its side on the floor (not in the desert dust !!) at a similar distance can work well.
Attached Files

Orchestra with didge 2.mp3 (3.13 MB, 122 views)

Old 9th April 2019
  #13
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TSM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Ive field recorded a Dig plus others with a simple MKH MS rig (MKH 50/30)
Very good natural balance from an overhead boom in full Rycote
No need for close mic ing imho.

Roger
The player was naked but clothed in grey ash, a great camouflage
Thanks Roger & David S. I Don't have a 50 but I do have a 40/30. I'll try that as my stereo pair.

Haigbabe Thanks for the heads up on language Loved the recording btw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Very much unlike the OP's intended context, here is a short sample of didgergidoo in a conventional orchestral setting.

Milab MP30 boundary zone mic on the floor about 20 cms in front of the end opening was used.....and even if you don't have such, a conventional condensor mic laid on its side on the floor (not in the desert dust !!) at a similar distance can work well.
I like that track. Could you tell me the name so I can listen to more?

Old 9th April 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSM View Post
I like that track. Could you tell me the name so I can listen to more?

Peter Sculthorpe "Earth Cry" (1986)....many versions around, seek out those featuring digeridoo eg: YouTube
Topic:
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