May 07

written by The Marimbalogist

Jan 04

I plan on doing a much more detailed video on this at some point but here are a few basic notes….

Theodore Writes

I have basically only used my iPhone for everyrhing so all the videos are just decent.  I recently purchased the Zoom Q2HD but I’ve noticed it seems to distort high pitched notes pretty badly.  I really want to get my channel going with some good recording but am in need of some good cheaper equipment.  I was just wondering if you could give me any suggestions due to the fact that your videos have always turned out nicely.  I appreciate all you have done.

Thanks Theodore!

Here are a few tips for ya!

  1. A cheap mic in the right place will usually sound better than an expensive mic in the wrong place. What is the “right” place? Well for me I’ve found that placing stereo mics under the marimba about a foot off the ground gets some really great results. Alternatively (but harder to do) would be to place them in a 90 degree configuration above the center of the marimba, but it’s hard to do this and keep it out of the video. I’ve seen some people do a mic on the bass end and a mic on the top end but this will get some nasty phase cancellations. If anyone is listening to your videos on a cell phone it will mix down to mono and really sound bad.

Even if your camera has a really good mic, the marimba isn’t going to sound super great when it’s recorded from across the room in most cases, but especially small rooms. You’re going to want to get the mic as close as you can to the instrument.

  1. Modern iPhones take really good video. You can use another device for audio and sync it up in post (you can even do this in free programs like iMovie) So what devices should you use? Well for a simple set up you could use something like the Sony M-10 on a small tripod for 200 bucks. For a more expensive setup you could use 2 SM81 mics (350 each) and run it into an interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($150) Both will get good results.

  2. Make sure the format is good. The higher the bit rate, the more dynamic range the recording would have. I recommend 24bit Aiff/Wav recording.

  3. If you’re looking for a mic, Dynamic mics aren’t going to be strong enough. Most condenser mics are tuned for vocals with a large bump in the high frequency range. This makes the marimba sound a bit harsh. You can EQ it to an extent to to help, but I find that the flatter the mic frequency pattern, the better. The SM81 has about the flattest response out there without spending thousands of dollars.

FYI In my early videos I used just the camera (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFb1hGJq1cU), then in my middle videos I used a 30 dollar audio technica lapel mic (decent results, with some minor hiss) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6woiQaRVWI), and now I use 2 SM81’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_Il8h9JirA)

Edit: No matter what you do, make sure you have manual gain control!!! If not your audio is never going to sound good as it will distort when you go from playing soft to playing loud!

I hope this helps!!!! Charlie Nesmith

written by The Marimbalogist

Dec 28

Sam writes

I was wondering if you had any tips or could do a video over Eric Sammut’s Rotation IV from the Four Rotations. In particular I wondered what your interpretation of the 17/16 sustenuto measure on page 4 is?  The last key issue I encounter is hearing more of the octaves in the right hand through the melody.  I currently use Vic Firth Van Sice 114s, and I have tried harder mallets in right hand but if you have any recommendations either for mallets or exercises to strengthen that would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for the videos you post, they are certainly enlightening and I look forward to watching more of them.

Thanks Sam!

Have you ever seen Sammut play?  Most of the time he’s playing at 1-2 inches off the keyboard with the melody at 5 inches. This is much lower than most young people tend to play.

So without knowing what grip and/or technique you’re using for your octaves, I’d say lowering your overall volume a lot will make voicing easier.

A lot of the time we all play our technique exercises at forte, but most professional marimba players play much much lower in performance.

As far as strengthening your octaves, mine really took off after playing “Octave Crawler” every single day. You can find it here! http://marimbalogy.com/exercise-pdfs/

Hope this helps!

Charlie Nesmith

written by The Marimbalogist

Dec 25

Varun writes,

“One problem I run into when practicing is how to practice without a marimba. This would be especially helpful to me as I can’t afford a marimba; the only time I can practice is at school. If you could tell me how to overcome this obstacle, it would be greatly appreciated. :)

Thanks for the Idea!

I think I will make this into an episode!

There are two main things that you can do. The first, is learn your music on a piano keyboard (the best you can) You can even try to use just 4 fingers instead of all 10.

In fact, the better you get at piano the better your marimba playing will be. I wish I had practiced more piano before college because we had trombone players and french horn players who could sight read music that took me weeks to learn because they had a piano background.

Another thing you can do is practice your 4 mallet strokes on the floor. When I was in drum corps I used to practice sitting on the floor of the laundry mat on laundry day. In fact, this is a great way to build chops because you’re focused on only technique and not hitting the right notes.

I hope this helps! Charlie Nesmith

written by The Marimbalogist

Dec 24

A lot of people have been asking about endurance. Here is a warmup I’ve been messing around with. Have fun :)

Duda.pdf Download

 

written by The Marimbalogist