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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Inspiration: The Session Sound of Neil Young's "Harvest" Album

Something interesting here where a group of musician's tries to re-create a particluar album session sound.

From Zippah Recording Studios | Tuesday Night Recording Club – Sep. 18, 2013 Inspiration: Neil Young’s “Harvest” Album A Blog by Record Producer Brian Charles:
Besides having to find top-notch players, a big part of recreating these sounds is also about trying to recreate situations. Reading interviews with engineer Elliot Mazer, I learned that the drums, steel, bass were all recorded live (together) along with Neil’s lead vocal and acoustic guitar.

This is incredibly challenging on so many levels…for instance, the drums (being the loudest instrument in the room) will certainly also be picked up in the acoustic guitar mic, which is the softest sound in the room. This is also the case for the vocal mic. Apparently Neil was sitting about five feet from the drums…so Neil’s mics were definitely going to also be considered part of the drum sound. An inexperienced engineer might often move the acoustic guitar/vocal setup as far away from the drums as possible in the room in effort to minimize the spillage into the mics, but This is usually worse…although the level of the drums spillage is lower in the acoustic/vocal mics, the dimensions of the room become evident in the sound…the listener actually hears more room pollution, which achieves the opposite result. It’s better to minimize the detect ability of the space, and use as few mics as possible.

We set Aaron up about five feet from the drums, with a gobo (divider) placed between him and the kit. This helped to reduce reflections as well as direct spillage into the vocal and acoustic guitar mics. Aaron’s guitar a 1976 Martin D-28 (Neil used a Martin D-45) was mic’d with an AKG C-414 microphone in hypercardioid pattern. Originally, Mazer used a Neumann KM 86 (which we didn’t have). My engineer Annie and I matched up the frequency response charts with some different mics and found similarities between the KM86 and the AKG (when in hypercardioid) with a very slight boost at 3khz which we did with console EQ.

On the drums we used four microphones…kick, snare, hi-hat and a single overhead. To replicate the signature kick drum sound I used a 60′s Rogers 20″ kick drum with no front head and heavily muffled it with a folded up bath towel, and a sandbag to keep it in place. I had planned on using a pillow with duct tape to hold it in place like Kenny Buttrey, but I failed on procuring that particular piece of equipment by the time ttracking-600he players showed up (it’s always something).
More on Kerouac's View - Inspiration : Neil Young's "Harvest" Album.

Thanks Michael!

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At 1/27/2014 11:08:00 AM, Blogger pat mcgovern said...

Hi guys thanks for posting this, very interesting. Live player recording seems to be the only way to get this vibe. Where did you place the single OH and would you do anything different on the kit if you had another chance or were you 100% happy? thanks,


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