Recording with the Flute

I've made a few recordings with the flute in the last months and I want to share a couple of tips about what and how I did these sessions. I don't do a lot of recording on flute, but I'm always up for the challenge. ;-) 

On one session, I had to play a melody and improvise a solo as well (something I rarely do on the flute). It was a piece with a Bossa Nova flair but even more jazzy, if you can imagine that. As it often is, the flute was playing the melody in the upper middle register, where the highest note was a g''. Which is cool. But the one problem note on flute is the high f# (on any flute) and of course, it was present here as well. 

In any case, that means: preparation. I start off with my usual warm-ups, (check out the previous article here), meaning overtones, long tones is the mid to high range because that's what I needed for the session. Identify any problem zones right away and get to work on them. Luckily, I was recording this session at home via the internet and I could take my time recording it. Nevertheless, I want to get it done quickly so that the client has it asap in case there is anything I need to redo. 

I purposely recorded the melody and the solo separately, allowing me to just concentrate on the separate tasks. I was able to try out a couple of things:

  1. Microphone positioning - Usually, you don't want to record the flute with the mic directly in front of the mouth and mouthpiece. With that placement you'll get all the air on the recording even if you have a pop screen. You'll want to record the flute above you, around your forehead, or at the side by your left hand. You'll have to try out both positions to see / hear what fits the situation best. I had mentioned "pop screen" before, this is quite a must when recording flute.
  2. Working out a solo - Since I don't improve on the flute that much, I haven't developed a real "style" as to how I play flute. I don't want to just use saxophone licks on the flute, they really don't work the same way. On top of that jazz flute has its own history, traditions, and styles. So, I work out a few passages that I'd like to document on this recording and practice them so that they come over as organic as possible. ;-)
  3. Effects - I use EQ and reverb while recording, but I'll turn them off before delivering the final audio file. Here, I just use whatever standard settings my software (Logic Pro) provides me. The client will have the track mixed and put whatever effects on it themselves. So, this is nothing for you to worry about. Your only concern is to deliver a good quality performance.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please share them below. 

Happy practicing! 

Evan Tate


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