GE-OS in action in Nepal

An overnight stay in the Nepal jungle yielded dusk and dawn recordings, including some 5.1 recordings, as well as Tharu traditional music.

The 5.1 recordings, were made with DPA 5100 mobile surround microphone, while a matched pair of DPA 4041 large diaphragm omnis, ideal for nature recording due to their low self noise (7dBA) and high sensitivity (90mV/Pa), captured a remarkable recording of two rhinos feeding in the night approximately 20m from the jungle camp. The 4041’s omnidirectional polar response captured the ‘space’ of the jungle environment, while its on-axis high-frequency boost provided remarkable detail on the chewing and grunting sounds.

The GE-OS Project update #05

Day 5, 30 December 2010

The end of December saw the GE-OS team arrived in the tiny town of Sauraha, where bicycles and motorbikes share the roads with four-wheel-drives, horse-drawn carts, elephants and the occasional unwelcomed rhino. Situated directly across the Rapti river from the jungles of Chitwan National Park, it’s an ideal place for venturing into the jungle to make nature recordings.

Sauraha is also home to the Tharu people, who crossed the border into Nepal many years ago from their traditional home in India’s Thar Desert. As with many village cultures their traditional music is built around percussive instruments – predominantly dolaks (two-headed drums) and small cymbal clusters. The Tharus are also known for their ‘stick dances’, where the musicians dance in a circle and hit sticks together to form rhythmic patterns. Evolved from a martial art, the stick dance adds a unique tonal texture to the Tharu’s music.

Recording the stick dance presents a number of challenges. There is the fundamental problem of capturing the sticks at a volume that is clearly audible against the considerably louder dolaks and cymbal clusters. Furthermore, a successful recording will place the dolak and cymbal clusters in the centre of the stereo image, provide stereo movement of the sticks, and capture an overall sense of ensemble to bind the numerous sounds together as one performance. To satisfy those criteria the team decided on a spaced pair of omnis placed in the centre of the dance circle. The pair was oriented to place the dolaks and cymbals in the centre of the image, and raised high enough to provide a good balance and sense of ensemble between the different sound sources. Being omnidirectional, there was no loss of low frequency response from the dolaks despite being approximately 3m away from the microphones.

The initial microphone choice was a matched pair of DPA 4052 compact omnidirectional condensers (the compact version of the popular 4006) fitted with nose cones to provide an almost textbook omnidirectional response across a very wide bandwidth, but it was soon discovered that one of the miniature microphone leads had been damaged in transit. The team reverted to a matched pair of DPA 4041 large diaphragm omnis that did a very acceptable job despite their high sensitivity – fortunately the HHB Portadrive had sufficient padding on its mic inputs to prevent overloading or clipping.

About The GE-OS Project

Founded by Greg Simmons in 2008, The GE-OS Project takes audio students and other interested parties on international recording expeditions to capture the sounds and music of different countries and cultures. The goal is to make the highest quality recordings under the circumstances, with an emphasis on the educational aspects of recording on location.

‘GE-OS’ is an acronym for ‘Guerrilla Ethnomusicology – Open Source’, a reflection of the recording philosophies and dissemination methods used by the project. The recordings fall into three broad categories: direct-to-stereo ethnographic recordings of traditional music performed in traditional contexts, multitrack recordings of local musicians improvising over backing tracks, and phonographic recordings of city sounds, village sounds and nature sounds. On completion of the project, all recordings will be placed on line for anyone to access and use under the terms of a Creative Commons licensing scheme.

The GE-OS Project is currently undertaking its third extended recording expedition and gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of Amber Technology, DPA Microphones and TC Electronic

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