Thinking about recording – Talk No 1 Peter Sheppard Skaerved & Daniel-Ben Pienaar

Posted on October 7th, 2020 by

Thinking about recording is a series of talks given for the Royal Academy of Music. This is the audio of the pre-recording of the basic text that I used today.

More: Questions and answers

Question: ‘ One question I have after listening to the talk is, do you change your playing according to the acoustic of the room you are recording in, in the same way you would adapt in a live performance? Or is that different?’ Answer: ‘To answer your question: my experience is that I choose the places that I record very carefully, for a combination of their acoustic qualities, and their atmosphere – this often is a combination of the beautify of the building and its history, and my own associations with it. 
The presence of the microphone, the deep listening which it encourages and facilitates, opens our ears and imaginations to the possibilities of the room that we are, which is analogue to the instrument we are playing, and to the structure of the piece itself. I find, so often that in recording, the whole conception of a works will shift – colours will become richer, perspectives and views will become clearer, and the sense of the music, in the space, will be enhanced. /So my answer to your question is ‘yes’ and then ‘more’. And of course, there’s the extraordinary sense that comes from the luxury of space to ourselves: that we can ‘reach’ into the corners of the room, aurally, imaginatively, visually, and that the room will reach back to us.’

Recording in St Michael’s HIghgate 24 10 17

Question: ‘I would like to ask a question about how would you recommend us as a student to try and approach a more professional recording? So for example I would really like to do an album with Arthur Bliss and Arnold Bax Concerto, and then another one with same composers’ violin sonatas. But obviously this seems pretty far and impossible from my position. I’m wondering if there’s a way to approach it or at least get closer to this kind of… dream?’

Answer: ‘ Regarding your question, which is an important one: As well as all the commercial recording that I do, Lockdown has given me a fantastic opportunity to think about the intimate  – at the desk – recordings. I have made at least 200 of these in the past 6 months, and explored a lot of old and very new repertoire, and thought about how to communicate it. Here’s the ‘Lockdown Playlist’ (all at home at my desk, since March – NOTHING to do with the 60plus albums I have on Spotify). You will find that there are pieces which might interest you (Rubbra, Berkeley) etc. if you explore the list. It doesn’t answer your big question, but exploring what you can do, if you go really small, is a good idea.’