Minstrel’s Corner – Sound Test
September 9, 2010
Back in the day when I was learning to play the piano, one of the things my teacher always suggested I do was record my practices and listen to it afterwards to find the mistakes I didn’t pick up while I was playing. Of course I never did this, because practicing was already a chore. Listening to my practices was essentially torture. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that this advice didn’t just apply to musical instruments. I got the same advice for debate (“Record and watch your speeches.”), for writing (“Proofread and read out loud everything you write.”), and even video games(“Watch your replays!”).
I think the truth of the matter is that self observation is an important learning step for just about any skill. It comes down to the fact that you see/hear/feel differently about the things you do than how other people perceive it. Going back and watching yourself from the outside lets you see things that you simply wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. This is especially true for ticks and mannerisms in your performance that you just do automatically.
Anyway, in an attempt to do this more, I bought a Zoom Q3 a couple weeks ago to record some of my piano practices. I went with this because A.) I didn’t want to spend some ridiculous amount of money on real recording mics, and B.) normal recorders are absolutely awful for sound. My goal was simply to find something that is reasonably priced, but is at the very least able to cancel out that air static noise you hear with standard camcorder.
I’ve been playing around with the recorder, and I seem to have most of the settings right. The only one I can’t decide on is if I should use the “low-cut” filter. The idea behind the filter is to cut off low frequency background noise, but I’m not sure how it affects the actual low frequency sounds from the piano. So here’s 2 recordings of the start of a piece. One is using the filter, while the other isn’t. Let me know if you can pick out which is which, and more importantly, which one has the better sound (not necessarily the better playing):
Sound Test 1:
Sound Test 2: