Huun Huur Tu

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Heather Johnson



Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

Huun Huur Tu’s upcoming <em>Klassica</em> album includes a DVD with interviews and performance footage.

Huun Huur Tu’s upcoming Klassica album includes a DVD with interviews and performance footage.

Engineer John Cuniberti took on the challenge of a lifetime when he agreed to record Klassika, a forthcoming CD/DVD from Huun Huur Tu, a quartet of Tuvan throat singers that are considered masters in an ancient spiritual art form that must be heard — clearly heard — to be understood.

Throat singing, or xöömei, is a technique where one vocalist produces multiple pitches simultaneously. One may hear a deep, low chant and a high-pitched chirp or whistle, and multiple other harmonics emanating from one singer. The Tuvans, who hail from the region of Tuva just north of Mongolia in southern Siberia, use song to describe their natural surroundings, whether it be the animals, mountains and grasslands, or the movement of wind, water and light.


"Oreila" MP3

From a technical perspective, recording an ancient art form and ancient stringed instruments requires precision and absolute transparency. “I wanted to capture the instruments and voices in the purest possible way,” says Cuniberti, who recorded the group at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, Calif. “I took a more purist approach, similar to how you might record a symphony orchestra or a string quartet: good mics in the right position through transparent mic pre's straight to hard drive with minimal signal path.”

Vocal mics were arguably the most important links in the chain. “I needed mics that were precise and reliable that could handle a high dynamic range and provide a wide frequency response,” says Cuniberti. “They also had to be quiet.” Telefunken supplied an assortment of mics that met his requirements: AK47s, M16s and an Elam 250 for the vocals; and M260s for the instruments.

Recording direct to Pro Tools HD3 through 16 channels of Millennia Media's HV-3D mic pre's, Cuniberti aimed to re-create the group's live setting as closely as possible to maintain authenticity and comfort for the foursome, who had little professional recording experience.

Cuniberti arranged the musicians in an arc, divided by gobos, with the drummer in an iso booth. “He plays a large bass drum that got on every microphone,” says Cuniberti. “Fortunately, the booth had a window large enough to maintain eye contact so it didn't pose a problem.”

Opposite the glass, the group played live with minimal overdubs. “Often the singing was so delicate and the bow playing so aggressive that I needed to record them separately,” adds Cuniberti. “When I explained that the level of their voice presentation was significantly lower than their bowing and was getting on the mic, they allowed me to do that.”

Huun Huur Tu's Klassika will be released in early to mid-2009, accompanied by a DVD featuring interviews, information on Tuva, and live studio and performance footage.

“As I started to understand the music and the culture,” Cuniberti says, “I saw this as an opportunity to share with the world something that is really quite unique.”

Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95



Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.