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Old October 11th, 2009, 01:41 AM   #16
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I guess I'd equate the OP comments about "archival" and "futureproof" as sort of pushing this in the direction of audiophilia.

But I think Jon's points are valid - regardless of the sample rate, nobody is going to think you did a crappy job just because you record at 44.1 or 48

Heck - it's all a huge game of approximation. A pair (or more) of speakers sounds nothing like an acoustic instrument. Of course, I've never listened to speakers that cost more than $75k a pair so maybe I'm missing something

And sampling/digital signal processing is one of the most arcane technical specialties around so don't feel bad because it gives you mental indigestion.

Hey, tally up the votes, make a few test recordings at various sample rates, and do what feels right.

By the way, what kind of music/musical instruments are you planning to record? Sounds fascinating. My wife and I love Itay and once spent a week or more visiting accordion factories near the Adriatic coast. One of the folks we visited made a line of small instruments that were intended for regional musical groups - in fact, nobody at the factory could really play them, they were just making them to match what these groups wanted and they were clearly intended for certain regional styles of music.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #17
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Thanks for the additional responses. I think I'm starting to understand this stuff a little more but probably won't fully understand it until I actually start working on the post production phase of this project which is somethign I've never dealt with before and will be a huge learning curve for me.

Jim, mostly recording Zampognas - Italian bagpipes. I'm Italo-American and play this instrument myself, only one of the few americans that do and because I have family in this region I have the connections necessary to get access to the traditional musicians to make the recordings. I will also probably be recording the organetto - which is a small button box accordion that puts out a LOT of sound (I also play this). Other instruments include "chitarra battente" which is a 10 stringed rhythm guitar, tambourines, a small keyless oboe-like instrument called a "piffero", any other strange and wonderful instruments that no one has heard of....

These are difficult instruments to mic and record because they are loud and they put out a lot of sound. A Zampogna has 4-5 pipes all producing different frequencies at the same time with very complex and rich overtones. The organetto has at least 3 reeds per note and at any one time 9-12 reeds will be buzzing at the same time across a broad frequency range. Then if the instrument is accompanied by tambourine you have a low thumping and a high piercing jingle sound. You have to try to capture all of this detail. It's not just like mic-ing a single clarinet or violin that only produces one sound at a time.

I have been making test recordings of my self playing the organetto and zampogna - experimenting with diff mic placements and levels etc. I've been doing the recordings at 88.2 khz. The zampogna recordings sound really good. The organetto sounds a little "muddy." I'm thinking I might have the mics to close. Going to experiment a little more!
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Old October 11th, 2009, 02:38 PM   #18
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FYI - Some networks such as Discovery are now specifying uncompressed Broadcast Wave (.wav) files in 24bit, 48kHz format for audio deliverables.

Just my $.02 -- Were it me, I'd use 24 bit and at least 48kHz, and preferrably 96kHz, for the original field recordings. Any compressed formats like MP3 (with the exception of lossless formats like FLAC), no matter what the bitrate, would be totally out of the question. The only thing you gain with lower bit depths and sampling rates is smaller files sizes but file storage is the cheapest thing you've got in the entire process. IMHO, saving file space is the very last thing one needs to worry about.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 11:01 PM   #19
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Now that you've got your sample rate. . . how is your pre-amp in the recorder? You can optimize the mics with a good pre-amp.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 11:54 PM   #20
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If I were 50 years younger I'd come along and carry your camera and mics! Sounds like such a wonderful thing to do!

Please come back and post some audio/video!
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Old December 9th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #21
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Jim and other interested people - below is a blurb about my trip. I ended up recording at 88.2khz at 24 bit. I haven't done much with the wav files other than convert them to mp3s for convenient listening. When I get more time I need to learn how to manipulate the files better in Logic to get the best possible sounds out of my recordings. This all takes time of course....

A few weeks ago I got back from spending 2 weeks in Italy. The main reason for my
trip was to spend time In Rome visiting with the few remaining players of
one of the rarest forms of Italian bagpipe, "Le Ciaramelle d'Amatrice."
There are roughly only 5-6 active players of this zampogna. Fortunately two
of them are in their late 20's early 30's and are both very good players and
are dedicated to continuing this tradition.

The reason I chose to study this particular pipe on my recent trip as
opposed to going elsewhere and immersing myself in one of the other piping
traditions is because of its rarity. Also it appeals to me as a Zampognaro
and amateur ethnomusicolgist of Italian folk music because it is so
different from the other zampognas, not only in the fingering technique for
playing it, but also in its musical scales and their relationship between the two
chanters, the melodic phrases and the rhythmic structure of its traditional
tunes. Not to mention, it's the only zampogna w/o drones!

So I spent a lot of time talking to players and taking notes about the
tradition, and I was fortunate to spend an evening with the bulk of the
members of this musical culture in what I would describe as a "traditional"
ambiance (ie. a huge dinner with lots of wine and singing and piping around
the table) where I made a bunch of field recordings onto a professional
digital recorder for preservation. I was also taking copious pictures and
captured a few video clips as well which are posted below. The singing in the videos
is the traditional style of "stornello" from this region. It is all extemporaneous and
the lyrics are essentially a conversation between the two singers about current events
and observations about the guests sitting around the table. Several times they sang about me
one line going something like "David came from Kansas City and now he is going to bring
the ciaramelle back to Barak Obama!!" I imagine that before tv or radio this would have
been a way for members of the community to discuss news and share the events
of the town.

In addition to making field recordings I took a day trip from Rome to the mountains of
Amatrice. It was breathtakingly beautiful as all the trees were changing. As
we climbed the winding roads in the car there was snow on the ground in the
shaded areas. Going to Amatrice made me realize just how physically isolated
this area was - the perfect place for preserving a musical tradition that is
probably one of the closest unbroken links to the greek Aulos (Tibia) that
is in existence today. The music as described to me by one of the players
was properly "Roman." During my trip to Amatrice I went on what I can only
sum up as a wild goose chase trying to find a wood worker, of who I only had
a first name, Franco, who may or may not have had an old Zampogna that his
father made. To make a long story short, after going from town to town
asking random people for this wood worker, my Italian friend and I ended up
inside the small stone cottage of an old wood worker and his wife heated by
a wood burning stove in the kitchen of which an elderly woman was sitting by
warming herself. I think the last thing that he was expecting to encounter
as his wife roused him from a nap on the couch was to find a young American
standing in his living room very enthusiastically asking about an old
bagpipe. At first they had been holding out on me insisting that there were
no old pipes (this is what they had told my friends in rome as well), but I
think I endeared them enough that the wife, after I made my case, came back
with an old pipe that looked like it had been sitting in the basement for
years. I immediately knew it was the traditional pipe I was looking for and
was excited to get it for a very reasonable price. I then found out that
Franco, the son of the deceased pipe maker who made my pipe has also made a
handful of pipes. I did my best to encourage him to continue making them as
my friends back in Rome would be excited to get a pipe from the region of
Amatrice proper, instead of having to get a pipe maker from Molise to make a
very Molise looking copy.

Anyway, I have the pipe back in the US. After subjecting it to a thorough
cleaning and oiling it looks almost brand new. I put a bag on it and made a
pair of plastic reeds and have it in what I believe to be the proper scale.
I had to figure out the scale by ear. I now see that the tuning is very similar to
the Sicilian pipes, except that the Amatrice pipe has a sharp 4th and is missing the
subtonic note on the right chanter. And of course there are no drone pipes playing the 5th.



YouTube - Canto a braccio
YouTube - Saltarello Amatriciano
YouTube - Le ciaramelle d'Amatrice
YouTube - Maestro delle Ciaramelle
YouTube - Suonata sulle ciaramelle d'amatrice
YouTube - Saltarello Amatriciano 2
YouTube - Stornello Amatricano
YouTube - Nello, Giampiero, e Franco
YouTube - Saltarello Amatriciano 3

The music scales from the video as I have interpret them:

Left Changer: G#-A#-C-C#-D#
Right Chanter: C#-D#-F-G-G#

My Pipe is playing a half step higher at:
L Chanter: A-B-C#-D-E
R Chanter" D-E-F#-G#-A

Note: The right chanter, though having a thumb hole, only plays 5 notes as
the pinky finger is not used. Notice that two notes overlap between the
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Old December 10th, 2009, 10:28 PM   #22
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David -

Fascinating! I was really surprised by the size of the bag - somehow I had expected that it would be smaller.

Would you be willing to send me a short audio sample so I could listen on something better than the miserable speakers on my computer combined with whatever havoc You Tube plays with the audio?
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Old December 13th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #23
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thanks. I'm still working on the wav files.

Until then, check this out. There is more posted on it in a thread in the Show us Your work Forum:

YouTube - Zampogna: The Soul of Southern Italy
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