In contrast with most common electrical instruments that were actually born with amplification (guitar, bass, etc), string instruments extend they roots to the dawn of music and have strongly defined its dynamics, timber, radiation patterns and full personality over a vast period of centuries of acoustic music tradition. That means that both musicians and audience have a rather defined concept of how such instruments should sound, something that can be both helpful and a hindrance. Along with this reality, a quest for “tonal purity” (i.e. minimizing the “electrical feeling” of poor amplification or recording) has always been something sought. Many recording techniques and technologies, from microphones to amplifiers, account for this quest.
But, on the other side, with the advent of new musical languages and aesthetics, string instruments are slowly broadening its scope and becoming vastly processed or morphed, as well as becoming triggers for new sounds (synthesized sounds and samplers). This can be a radical depart from traditional aesthetics and thus requires especially designed pickups, clip-on microphones and sensors. In this session we will try to cover some of these topics from our personal experience in the field of sound recording and amplification, also referring to past experiences being presented in the ESMUC.
Enric Giné is Professor of the Sonology Department at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC) and co-director of the Post-graduate degree in Sonology offered jointly by the University Pompeu Fabra (IDEC) and ESMUC.