Etude Recording Project

A few months ago I posted on Craig Morris’s etude recording project,  and mentioned that I was planning my own project along similar lines using a well-known etude collection for horn.  After some thought, I’ve decided to go ahead with the project and record Kopprasch’s Sixty Selected Studies Op. 6, or at the very least all of Book 1.  My plan is to record one or two each Friday and then post them on YouTube the following week, with some blog posts along the way to offer some tips and advice for other players working on the etudes.  I considered several different etude collections – Kopprasch, Maxime-Alphonse, Bozza, and others – but I ended up going with Kopprasch for a few reasons.

1. Pretty much everyone who has played the horn for more than a few years has at least heard of the Kopprasch etudes, and they often  (along with other standard etude collections) form a core repertory of materials for horn study.

2. Practicing Kopprasch can be beneficial for players of varying abilities.  Whether it’s working on tone production and consistency, or perfecting transposition skills, I think Kopprasch holds an important place in the repertoire for students, amateurs, and professionals.

3. As a teacher, I wanted to provide a resource for my students and others so that they could at least hear one interpretation of these etudes, and use these recordings as a jumping off point for their own creative practicing.

4. Although there are several recordings online of Kopprasch etudes, to my knowledge no one has yet recorded all of Book 1 or Book 2 on video.

So, with those ideas in mind, I began the recording process this past Friday with Etude No. 1.  Already I’m noticing some of the benefits of this project for my own playing.  Working with an etude as simple as No. 1 (primarily half notes and quarter notes) forces one to listen very closely to every attack for consistency.  Even though I’d worked on No. 1 many times in the past, this was the first time I put it under the microscope, so to speak.  One of the more difficult things for me in recording this etude was maintaining consistency through a range of dynamic levels and across a fairly wide range.  Although the recording is by no means perfect, I do hope that the point comes across to students that you really should go for big contrasts in these etudes to get the most out of them.   Watching the playback from several of my takes was quite interesting as well.  Students might want to notice the changing angle of the leadpipe across the range from high to low.  I seem to have a particularly big “break” around low C, and I’ve been working on some exercises lately (Kopprasch among them) to get this transition as consistent as possible.  The repeats are not included, but I do recommend practicing Kopprasch with repeats to work on endurance.  Additionally, this project is forcing me to figure out how to use my recording equipment more effectively.  Though I do plan to record everything in my studio, I’ve already got some ideas for a slightly different recording setup next time.

Well, that’s all for now – I’ve embedded the YouTube video below so you can hear (and see) how the recording went.  In next week’s installment I plan to record No. 2 and possibly No. 3, as well as write a blog post on the edition of the etudes I’ll be using.

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I hope you’ll talk about what you find works and what doesn’t with the recording process as you go along. In my experience the horn sound is a tough one to capture well. It may be that it’s like hearing one’s voice recorded and it sounding so different without the bone conducted sound in the mix (and I think there is some of that when we listen to ourselves while playing the horn).

My sense is that room acoustics might be the most important variable, but would enjoy hearing what you think about having the mic at different distances and angles from the bell.

Lyle,

Yes, I’ll definitely post about different recording setups. Derek Wright has got a great post on setting up a microphone for horn recording. http://derek-wright.com/?p=728

What I’m experimenting with right now is different levels for the external microphone on my camcorder. In the video above I really wanted to flip the setup 180 degrees, but the AC cord wasn’t long enough to reach an outlet in my office. Next time I’ll bring an extension cord.

Thanks for that link.

Having a slow net connection, didn’t see the first frame of your video until after I’d commented, and was assuming you were going to use that digital recorder you talked about a while ago, not a camcorder. What with YouTube’s compression, though, not sure it matters.

Yes, you’re probably right. I’m trying to record at the highest quality (video and audio) I can, knowing that YouTube will compress everything. Still tweaking a few settings to try to get the most out of my equipment. You should be able to dial up the resolution on the YouTube video to 720p.

I like to watch your ‘Kopprasch playing’on You tube.
I am Japanese hornist.
I practice ‘kopprasch’,so I watch yours every day.
I am poor at English.
Please continue You Tube playing.
All over the world ,horn students could watch you.
Thank you!

ありがとう I hope that reads “thank you!” Glad you enjoy the videos, and I plan to continue recording them at least through the end of Book 1.

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