Recording expeditions

Self-styled guerilla ethno-musicologist Greg Simmons has led educational recording expeditions through Nepal, India, Tibet, Thailand, Borneo and Burma since 2004. Now he is planning three further visits in Burma (Myanmar) for audio students, industry pros, musicians and composers. Each 11-day expedition focuses on recording the music of a different culture. The expeditions run end-to-end and can be taken together to form a longer journey.

The educational and affordable expeditions include advanced audio lectures, emphasing mic choice and placement. Recording unfamiliar instruments in unfamiliar settings requires new ways of thinking about recording, and ultimately equips participants with new skills and concepts that can be applied to any recording situation.

Expedition #1 [21-31 August] begins in Yangon with a studio session recording traditional Burmese instruments before heading to Inle Lake to record the music of the Pa-O, Danaw and Kayah tribes who live on and around the lake. The expedition continues overland to Mandalay and finishes with a recording of Burmese court music.

Recording in Nepal

Expedition #2 [1-11 September] begins in Mandalay with a studio session recording traditional Burmese instruments before heading northeast to Hsipaw and trekking to nearby villages to record the music of the Shan and Palaung hill tribes. Returning to Mandalay, it finishes with a recording of Burmese court music.

Expedition #3 [12-22 September] begins in Mandalay with a studio session recording traditional Burmese instruments before heading south down the Irrawaddy River to the Bagan Archaeological Zone to record local musicians among the temple ruins. The expedition finishes with a studio session in Yangon.

Simmons is no stranger to leading groups through these fascinating but challenging cultures and terrains: ‘My sound expeditions combine a passion for music and recording with a sense of adventure and a desire for escapism’, he says. ‘They’re challenging enough to be highly rewarding, but they’re not too difficult. They’re also highly educational, not only from a recording point of view but from a “life” point of view – rather than taking snapshots through the window of a tourist bus, you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet, and recording them.’

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