I am currently starting a series of compositions focused on the French Horn. It is my hope to explore the horn's extended technique, and abused it's versatility to create new textures and timbres. To fully explore the Horn's potential I wish to experiment with amplification and electronics.
Has anyone had experience with microphones on french horns? I have been looking into the Silent Brass mutes /w mic, but have found it difficult to find useful specs for input/output. I like the idea of having a more contained system, but I am concerned about it's compatibility with computers, and the loss of right-hand technique (stop mute/pitch bending).
As I am a starving student...my price range is around $280. I have an audio/midi interface and software. Any suggestions are appreciated
The problem you'll have with the set up on the yamaha silent brass system or any other contact mic environment is that the weirdness of the instrument actually has it's final node out side of the bell, by about 12 inches or so.
Yes, you'll lose right hand technique, and by the way some of us move the hand, or fingers on each and every note we play to attain a more perfect and even tuning and matched tone. But more importantly you will never have the proper complete sound envelope, because you'll be missing that final outside node.
That all being said I use a Shure KSM44. Unfortunately they're not made anymore and used ones go for around $550. You might get some good results with a Oktava MC012, for around $100. They are a good all around 'concert' type microphone.
That sounds like an interesting idea, Phil. I don't know a whole lot about electronic recording at the moment, but I would venture a guess that you would want to record the sound as an audience might hear it. So just setting the mic on a table or stand instead of on your arm I think would be fine. The silent brass thing would work for a trumpet or trombone because they have a bell that points in the direction the sound is meant to go, but horn is a different story most of the time. It depends on what exactly you plan to be exploring with your recording, but if you're looking for the sound that an audience would hear, the mic on a stand idea would work so long as you don't get too close to it (you don't play 5 inches away from your audience at a recital, do you?)
I don't think any performer would ever take me seriously if I asked them to tie a microphone to their arm...that's why we have mic stands.
I'm not talking about recording the music, for that I would just use a couple hanging condenser mic's, but rather using live electronics to manipulate or amplify the sound. Most acoustic instruments w/ electronics will use a mic stand or a clip mic. However, I've never seen it done with french horn, which is an awkward instrument.
If you are going to do immediate manipulations you can use a contact mic on the bell. I have also seen someone drill and thread a hole on the bell at the supposed penultimate node for a small mic to be installed. Obviously, that was a particular horn player who chose to do that thinking he would be doing lots of recording stuff.
I've have had the mic on a stand in front of me, behind me, and even positioned inside the bell at one studio right near my hand. I think a lot of players would be relcutant to have a mic in the bell at the hand. If a recording person, or sound engineer explains to me what tehy want to do I will allow pretty much anything so long as it doesn't hurt my instrument. Good honest and open communication works really well.
With that being said and going back to your first question - I do not like the Yamaha Silent Brass(YSB)mute for your project. As a horn player the Yamaha Silent Brass (YSB) is cumberson and hinders the use of the right hand to help support the instrument. The YSB has a very large bulbous end. There is a company called BEST BRASS. They also have a silient mute with electronic hook-up. It is smaller and you can actually hold your hand onto it. (The owner of Best Brass was on the original Yamaha Silent Brass team). I wonder if using a simple contact mic as cheap as the Korg CM-100 (normally used for tuners). When I did Les Mes last time they had me on an AMT-LS mic. Unfortunately those are $600-$700.
Other suggestions for you at ab out $100- -
Barcus Berry has a CM5200 contact mic that you can use for $120. but you do need a preamp on that so there's more money there unless you already have a compatible pre amp thingy.