recording a musical saw

Our unique instrumentation makes for a compelling array of varying timbres. Always seeking to expand the predictable sonic palette found in contemporary music, our recordings concentrate on  the colour and texture of acoustic sound. Much of the Duo’s focus is on timbre. The musical saw is an excellent example and is explored in all of our recordings. It has an unexpected voice and when placed with other sounds can offer acoustic surprise.

Listening to the sound of the musical saw in live performance is uncanny, the sound feels like it comes from everywhere/nowhere. Unlike a trumpet or a piano or a vocalist which have a direct point of origin the musical saw is strange because it seems to originate in the air itself.  In live performance the rubbing sound of the bow is diminished because the listener is not that close and one is not required to pay attention to it.  If one places a mic in front and close to the saw it amplifies the sound caused by the bow rubbing the blade and the delicate, mysterious sound of the saw is compromised and becomes confined.

The difficulty in recording the bowed saw is to recreate its ethereal experience. Experimenting over the years with many different mic positions and different ways of recording the saw, what seems crucial is the sound of the room itself. It is important to record in as resonant a room as possible using two microphones. Mic the sound in the room, as well as the closer sound coming from behind the player and the blade of the saw. Mixing both tracks together comes close to reproducing this extraordinary resonance.

Carla Hallett & Robert Minden - Trent University concert

Carla Hallett & Robert Minden – Trent University concert

 sruti box and musical saw

One thought on “recording a musical saw

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