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Drum and Bass Project - Week 3 (Trumpet Recording)

Retreived from;


Trumpet is an instrument I am pretty unfamiliar with, I know how it sounds and I have a fair idea of where it belongs in the track, but I certainly can't play and I have never recorded a brass instrument, I do however have a friend that plays trumpet, so I have tasked them with writing sections for the track. Once they have written what they think is appropriate for the track I will meet up with them in the studio to track their parts, and see if I need to maybe help them re-write, or just take what they have already written and sample it.

Before we do that I need to know exactly how I'm going to approach recording trumpet, and to do this I need to put in a little research. I think I already have an idea of the mic positioning but choosing a mic appropriate for trumpet is something beyond my current knowledge.


After what was, to be honest, very little research I stumbled across a blog written by Joff Winks, describing his techniques for recording trumpet. In this blog he explains that the fundamental frequency range of trumpets transposed to Bb and C is between 185 Hz to 1046.5 Hz and that "above 1.5 KHz the trumpet is quite directional and becomes more so with higher frequencies. Above 5 KHz the trumpet has a dispersion of only 30 degrees. However, at the lower range, 500 Hz and below, the trumpet's sound emanates in all directions quite uniformly." Winks, J. As for mic choices, Winks has suggested that an SM57 is a decent mic for recording trumpet as it can handle sudden changes in SPL from a trumpet, and it is also a mic I am familiar with. I may also use an AT4047vs, if there is one available, as it presents a warm tone. Usually it's used for micing vocals, but I will experiment with it as a room mic.

As usual Sound on Sound magazine delivers the goods with an article about mic placement when it comes to recording saxophone or trumpet. Paul White and Hugh Robjohns go through just about everything you need to know when recording trumpet, and put it into fairly easy to understand language as well, not only describing the problems you may have with brass but also offering solutions. In one section they describe the frequency response of a trumpet on different axis around the player, "If you stand behind a trumpet you'll hear very little direct sound and no HF components at all. If you move to the side you'll pick up the lowest frequency components, but it is only directly in front that you'll hear the higher frequency components and harmonics (above about 4kHz)." Seeing as DnB is (obviously) produced electronicly I'm not too worried about not having a natural sound for trumpet, this may actually eliminate the need for a room mic as I can just add reverb in post production and it would fit quite well with the rest of the song. Just thinking about it again now I think that having a natural room sound of the trumpet might sound a bit out of place in this kind of track. Also considering that according to Winks the frequency range that actually emanates most in all directions is below 500hz, that may be all I pick up with a room mic anyway and mixing that in could muddy up the mix quite a bit. I'll probably also EQ out msot of the low frequencies anyway so it could be pointless having them in the first palce. The room I'm recording in also isn't ideal because it's rather small, but I think it will work fine with a nice directional recording with little reflections. If I stand my trumpet player in a place where I can hear the least reflections happening, I think I'll be able to get a nice clean recording with just an SM57 out infront of him, slightly off axis just to prevent any pops from sudden changes in SPL.

I do have to take into consideration the fact that my trumpet player hasn't practiced in a while and has never been in a studio recording enviornment. I've actually just spoken with him on the phone and he is pretty confident that he get enough practice in before our session. However, he doesn't usually write for trumpet so I made sure to ask him what he has in mind. Luckily we're quite good friends so I can be pretty upfront with him in saying that if he doesn't think he can write anything he should tell me now so that I can find someone else. He then actually gave me a pretty good idea in saying that he will just write some small parts that I can add in as a bit of an accent for the track, rather than full parts for the trumpet. Much like this Liquid DnB tune below, I plan to just pepper in trumpet parts to fill out some of the track, rather than showcasing it.


Over all I think I can get a pretty decent recording out of this session, I think my only concern is mic placement. Before the session, while my performer is warming up, I'm going to take a couple of test recordings with him in different positions in the room to see where I get the cleanest sound with little to no reflections. With the mic straight out infront of him, maybe 3/4 of a metre away and slightly off axis, I think I can get a pretty direct and neat sound from the trumpet. Over all I'm glad I'm taking on an experience in recording I haven't had before. If later down the track I happen to be recording more brass, I'm sure this experience will be invaluable.



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