What Is the Minimum Video and Audio Equipment for Quality Organ Music Recording?
Sometimes when I watch videos of other organists, I'm thinking to myself how it would be possible to improve the quality level. Of course, when I talk to them in private, I often get an answer that quality recording equipment is expensive and that production process takes too much time. While this could definitely be true for professional level recordings, you could get away with good foundation without breaking a bank and without spending entire day at the computer. So in this video I'd like to share with you my take on the minimum equipment you need to create high quality organ music videos.
Equipment mentioned in the video:
Zoom Q2n-4K: https://www.thomann.de/intl/zoom_q2n_...
Zoom H4N Pro (Black) https://www.thomann.de/intl/zoom_h4n_...
Rode Lavalier GO: https://www.thomann.de/intl/rode_lava...
Neewer LED Light Set: https://amzn.to/3jQeqkC
BENRO Handheld Tripod 3 in 1: https://amzn.to/3hKJCQ2
OBS Studio: https://obsproject.com/download
Thanks so much for your support! You get early access and I get to keep going.
If you like my music making, you can support me on Patreon: https://patreon.com/secretsoforganpla...
Buy me coffee: https://www.paypal.me/VPinkevicius
SOPP615: As others have already commented, Vidas, a really useful and helpful upload explaining how you produce such wonderful recordings
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 615 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Graham, and he writes about the video where I introduce my Hauptwerk set-up on YouTube. Hauptwerk set-up and streaming set-up, to be precise. He writes,
As others have already commented, Vidas, a really useful and helpful upload explaining how you produce such wonderful recordings - though as amazing as all this technology is, it would mean nothing if it was not for your truly fabulous playing and teaching! As you know, I am a big fan of James. He recently played some Clementi on the organ and I commented with a reference to the contest between Mozart and Clementi in 1781. So I am going to make the same judgement as Emperor Joseph II, who diplomatically declared a draw between those two great composers. I declare a draw between the massive amount of wiring and equipment both you and James have. Just looking at all those 'tripping hazards' gives me palpitations. At least my humble Viscount Chorum just plugs in and plays . . . but of course, does not give me access to some of the greatest organs in the world! Thank you, Vidas.
V: That’s a nice comment.
A: Yes, it’s a very nice comment.
V: Graham is very good with words, and writes very colorful comments on YouTube, and I’m very grateful, because this kind of engagement really is very supportive and makes you feel appreciated.
A: Yes. And stops me from throwing the Hauptwerk out of our house.
V: (laughs) Did you have some ideas about that, Ausra, earlier?
A: Yes, basically every time when we are cleaning our house. Because honestly, how, do you imagine how much time it takes to clean it all? Of course you do some cleaning, too, but I counted that at home, we have seven keyboards that I have to clean.
V: (laughs) Seven...seven!
A: Yes, it’s one on the regular upright piano, and two on the tracker organ, and four on the Hauptwerk. And imagine dusting all those wires. It really takes some time.
V: So we have as many keyboards as the largest pipe organ in the world has, right?
A: Yes, we just don’t, haven't put them all together.
V: Maybe we should.
A: Maybe not. (laughs)
V: Hm. Yeah, that would be a good thought, to have seven keyboards in one place. I do the cleaning of pedals, and Ausra does the cleaning of keyboards.
V: If any of you are wondering how we divide the work.
A: And actually, really I cleaned pedals as well, but I, you know…
V: Gave up.
A: Yes, I gave up on this. You know, “do something yourself as well!” So now Vidas took over the pedal cleaning.
V: But it’s unfair because there are only two pedalboards and seven keyboards.
A: Well life is unfair, too.
V: (laughs) So actually, we have more keyboards than the greatest organ in the world, because it only has one pedalboard.
A: Are you making some kind of record?
V: I suspect some people have monsters in their music room that we don’t have to compare to. What stops people from having 7 or 8 or 9 keyboards? Nothing, really.
A: Yes, but some people probably have just the normal people surrounding them. And because we are both sort of crazy a little bit, so nobody stops us from doing that.
V: Are you calling yourself crazy?
A: Yes, after living for so many years with you!
V: Is this my good influence on you?
A: I guess so, yes.
V: What kind of influence have you been leaving on me?
A: Well, some good influence as well.
V: Like what?
A: Like for example, yesterday I came back from work and you were taking care of dog, and you were doing things in the garden, acting like a normal man.
V: Mowing the lawn?
V: Oh that is the pinnacle of my work, mowing the lawn! (laughs) Too bad that lawn mower is too hard to move for you, because…
V: You wouldn’t need me.
A: Well, good for you - now I need you for something.
V: You also need me to set up cameras.
A: Yes, that’s right. No, actually I can set up cameras for myself, but I still haven’t figured out the easy way to record on YouTube.
V: Yeah. I haven’t talked in detail, actually, what it takes, once you have connected all the cameras, you plugged in all the cameras to the computer, they would serve as webcams. And webcams work for streaming. So maybe I could, given the time that we have here left on the podcast, yeah a few minutes, so I could describe in detail the steps I take that, to create a live stream on YouTube. Would you like that?
A: Yes, you could do that. It would be helpful.
V: I would think so, too. So first of all, step number 1, I plug in Hauptwerk into the power outlet, entire computer, right? And all the wirings are already connected, so computer plugs in, all the keyboards and pedals are already lit also. So then I turn on the button of the computer, step number 2, and wait until it powers it up. Then step number 3 would be I open Hauptwerk software. Step number 4 would be, I click on the desired organ sample set that I’m going to use, let’s say Velosovo sample set or Cavaille Coll sample set from Caen - we have quite a few to choose from. All right? Are you keep counting? What step?
A: Number 5, I believe.
V: Number 5, okay. You keep counting.
A: But actually, that’s an easy step. I can do that myself so far.
V: Okay. What’s next, cameras?
A: Well yes, you have to turn on all your cameras.
V: Step 6, yeah. Turn on all the cameras.
A: You can do that.
V: They are also connected to the computer, so you don’t have to unplug them. They are always connected. Step number 7, turn on the lighting. We have additional LED lighting.
A: Well, you can play in the dark if you wish.
V: Yeah, but nobody will see your beautiful hands and feet. And face.
A: Okay, okay.
V: Step number 8, I open OBS Studio program on the computer.
A: And this is the part where I am already getting lost. Starting from the OBS Studio.
V: Yeah, it’s very, you have to download it from the internet, install it on your computer, beforehand. And then if you have done that, so you have to add all the cameras as video sources. Just additional steps. They have plus (+) signs. Add video capture device, or audio capture device for a microphone for example, and configure them how you would like to use them - which camera goes where. Which on the top, which on the bottom, which on the left, which on the right, you know, if you have more than one. You can adjust them, the size of them, with your mouse, actually. It’s very intuitive.
A: But I think, that scares me is how you put all those end keys, and what else?
V: Stream keys you mean.
A: Stream keys, yes.
V: So that, yes.
A: This is the hardest part for me. I cannot figure it out.
V: Okay. It’s step number 9 would be to go to YouTube, to your own YouTube Channel, or to my YouTube channel if I’m streaming to mine, right. And then open this channel, and on the top right corner of the screen, there are a few signs, and one of them is “live,” YouTube Live. You click that basically, this is step number 10 probably.
A: Well, and if you click on that, will you be live right away or not?
V: No, no no no.
V: You just click and a separate window appears, and this window appears where you enter all the information about your stream: the title, the description if you want something, what else, the thumbnail, the picture that would be provided to entice your viewers to watch, you know, you can have your own picture, or keyboard picture, or music picture, or organ picture, whatever.
V: You know, what we do sometimes, we take a screenshot of OBS Studio screen, what cameras are filming at the moment. Sometimes we look at the cameras this way, we pose, sometimes we play, that way we can have what we want, you know, what kind of thumbnail. Okay? And you click “done,” I think. You click done. It would go live, but before that, step 11 has to have. Step 11 is on the left side, there are some strings of characters, keys, like hidden numbers and letters. You just have to copy one string. It’s called “stream key.” You copy stream key. And then step number 12 would be go back to OBS Studio, and on the lower right corner, there is a column of various words, and one of them is “settings.” You click on settings and another window appears, and on the top, I think top, second from the top column will be stream settings. You click on “stream” and then you will enter the stream keys, you paste those stream keys from YouTube to that separate field and click “apply” and “Ok” That screen disappears and you are now again back to OBS Studios. And this is step number 13.
V: When you are ready to start streaming, go live, you click “start streaming” in that lower right hand corner.
A: I know this step. The first time I used to do it.
V: But before that, you have to check the microphone if it’s working.
A: Sure, if you want to speak.
V: If you want to speak. If not, it’s connected to Hauptwerk, you have to play a few notes to see if that microphone is responsive, you see. And also configure the volume level. Play the loudest part of your piece and see if the microphone levels don’t go to the red. Red is too much. Green is very good, yellow is still okay, but red is too much. So then if it’s too much, you lower the handle in the mixer, they have audio mixers so you just mix things up this way. Does it make sense, Ausra?
V: When I explain it.
V: Now it’s your turn. Today when we will record something, I will supervise you, and you will do all those 13 steps by yourself.
A: Oh no, oh no.
A: Oh no.
V: Okay. So guys, go ahead and check yourself out if you want to start streaming. It’s not that difficult. You don’t have to have Hauptwerk by the way. You just have to have a webcam. If you have an iPad, for example, that could serve as a webcam as well.
A: If I can do it, you can do it, too.
V: Yeah, definitely, sure. IPad, you can connect iPad with this lightning cable, and just you have to install additional app, but you can search the internet how to, how to, what are the keyboard, connect iPad as a webcam - how to use iPad as a webcam, for example. Or your phone could be as a webcam as well. Anything could be, anything that has a camera can be a webcam, you see?
V: All right, guys. I hope this was useful to you. This was a long episode, but quite informative, right, Ausra?
A: Yes, even I learned something new.
V: And that happens quite rarely these days.
V: Because you have a doctoral degree.
A: (laughs) Because I am smart by birth.
V: Yes. So please send us more of your questions and take a look at this video, if haven't seen it already. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Unpacking Silver Celebration CD's
Yesterday before @laputis and I started our organ duet practice, I took this picture in my church's organ balcony. Here I wanted to showcase CD's that I received from my friend @contrabourdon from Australia. Four of those CD's I ordered from his website and two additional CD's he threw in as a gift.
I'm going to keep one copy of his organ CD and listen in the car while I will give others away to @drugelis who has been participating in our Secrets of Organ Playing Contest and is a member of our Unda Maris studio and has become quite an active Steemian. Also I want to give one CD to my friend @pauliakaz with the hope he will return to our contest. The last CD I'm still undecided about. Need to think about who will find it most useful and who has some personal connection with @contrabourdon.
The artwork for Silver Celebration CD is designed by @leysa, @contrabourdon's amazingly creative wife.
The CD contains music by J.S. Bach, D. Bedard, T. Albinoni, G.F. Handel, J.L. Krebs, G. Ph. Telemann, J. Demessieux and P. Fletcher.
The two choral CD's from Schola Cantorum group which can be seen on the right should also sound really nice. By the way, the artwork of the top one is also designed by @leysa.
@contrabourdon also added 2 Australian famous Vegemite snacks (shaped like Australia):
One pack we ate with @laputis right away and the other brought to share with her parents (her brother's dog Yoshke didn't want it, haha).
I think it's wonderful that @contrabourdon has been able to release his CD and actively participate in our Secrets of Organ Playing Contest week after week. In fact, a significant portion of the pieces in this CD has been recorded specifically for this contest. I'm pretty sure that with that much passion, creativity and productivity that @contrabourdon has been showing on Steem, we will see his next CD released quite soon. Stay tuned!
Sold 21 CD's in 2 months
Yesterday I met @laputis for a lunch date at the university. She had soup, fish and tea and I had soup, chicken and tea. Afterwards we went to the souvenir shop nearby where I've been selling our organ CD's to tourists. In 2 months since July 7 we sold 21 CD's and made 147 EUR. This was nice.
Then we went to the church to practice for our upcoming organ duet recital which will be held September 21 (we are repeating our Svendborg program with Lithuanian music). The security guard was walking around and so we had to take the key from the organ balcony ourselves. @laputis incidentally turned the lock on the key box the wrong way and it locked. So we had to wait for for the security guard to come in, unlock it and give us the key.
When we climbed the organ balcony, our aim for this practice was to write down organ registrations for our program. But since we will be practicing later today, we only did for half of the pieces - symphonic poem "In the Forest" by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, "Reverie" by Juozas Naujalis, "Sounds of the Forest" by Kristina Vasiliauskaite and arrangements of 4 Lithuanian Folk Songs by Vasiliauskaite. After this we decided to stop and do the rest of the program the next day.
After we played the last piece by Vasiliauskaite, I asked @laputis to go back and record it. She agreed and this is what happened. Let us know what you think.
By the way, in the symphonic poem by Ciurlionis "In the Forest" we are using a system with 6 dynamic levels (pianissimo, piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, forte and fortissimo). Since this is purely mechanical organ, we wrote down the registration for each level instead of setting it up in the memory bank. Our 2 assistants will have a nice work to do remembering what each level mean because in the scores we only mark numbers 1-6.
Today my friend @pauliakaz played a lunchtime mini organ recital at Vilnius Cathedral. On the program was music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 545), Juozas Naujalis (Prelude on the Lithuanian hymn tune "Jėzau, pas mane ateiki" and Leon Boellmann (Suite Gothique, Op. 25).
I brought my tripod to the event to help @pauliakaz record a video using his phone. He also asked me to record an audio with my phone. I suggested we livestream it to Facebook in a mode where only we could see it but he preferred a raw video recording with a better quality.
If you know me, you probably are aware how often I record my own performances and practices. Therefore it's no surprise why I thought @pauliakaz did really well by choosing recording his performance today. He said he will use this file to split it into separate videos and upload to YouTube in the future (and hopefully share it on Steem as well). In fact, he played so well today that it could easily have been livestreamed today.
I know that most organists from my country don't usually record their performances. They simply haven't created a habit. They don't want to show their work in public in fear of criticism or lack of technical skills. To them the pain of owning the consequences of sharing your video online is greater than the benefit it provides.
Here's the thing - showing your current work is the best way I know to get opportunities for future work. In other words, having an extensive archive of your performances online increases chances to get invited to play recitals in the future. Personally I have been invited to a number of recitals in Lithuania and abroad by organizers who found my work online in the form of text, pictures, audio, video or any combination of them.
Of course, not every performance is a perfect one and today @pauliakaz knows things that could be improved. In my opinion, he could work on keeping his fingers in contact with the keys at all times. He could work on his pedal articulation in the early music, although @laputis who was downstairs in the audience said it wasn't an issue. However, she did mention the value of practicing piano etudes and Hanon exercises to strengthen his finger technique.
A lot of organists feel their shortcomings, real of imagined and think they are not worthy of sharing their work publicly. Here I'm talking about making a recording but take it one step further and you will see organists who don't perform in public at all anymore.
Although constantly striving to become a better organist is a healthy approach, perfectionism isn't. People who say they are unworthy because their performance isn't perfect are simply hiding. If they are waiting for the day when their playing will be spotless and without mistakes should know that this day might never come.
But we aren't in the perfection business. We are in the sharing business.
PS In this rehearsal video @pauliakaz compares one passage of Introduction-Choral by Leon Boellmann while playing it one octave lower to produce a fuller, darker and more French Romantic-like sound on a German Neo-Baroque organ:
SOPP377: Recording an organ DVD was a very time consuming process, because there were so many details to consider
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas, and I’m so delighted to be able to start our 377th episode of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And, on the other end of the line is John Higgins, from Australia. He’s the organist of Morewell Presbyterian Church in Australia. And he visited Vilnius and our church some months ago, maybe last year in the Spring, I believe in April. And he played a wonderful organ recital in our church. I have to emphasize that John is one of the first online students, and has been with us since, I believe, the beginning of 2012. So thanks so much, John, and welcome to the show.
John: Thank you so much, and thanks for your kind words of welcome.
V: And today, I have to remind our listeners that John has been a guest on our podcast conversations a number of times, and today we’ll be talking about his newest release of a DVD. He recorded and released a DVD recording, which Ausra and I gladly saw last weekend, and it has been recorded in his church, in Morewell Presbyterian Church. Saint Andrews Church it’s called, right? So wonderful, I think it’s an achievement in itself to publish this DVD, so we’ll be talking a little bit more about your process, about your struggles. Right, John? First of all, how did you come up with the idea to publish this DVD?
J: Many contributing factors. And, I mean, none of this would have even been possible without learning how to play the organ, first, and I’ve been on such an incredible journey, being your student, and learning over the Internet, and apart from learning how to play, also having the belief and bravery to try to make the DVD, because, I’ll say one of the hardest actions I had to do was doing this recording for other people. And then a number of other things came together that I would say were providential, that we had wonderful historic organ in our church, which I’m privileged to play regularly, and I made a friend who works in local TV channel in our area. And so, he had all of the expertise and all the equipment, such as professional TV camera equipment and microphones, so it seemed to me that all the pieces of the puzzle came together at one time.
V: Yes. Wonderful. You know, not too many organists do this! They continue to play the organ, sometimes play recitals, but recording a DVD or a CD, for example, is really a big achievement, I think, because every note that you record is like an evidence! It will be there with you 10 years after this recording has been published—maybe 20 years, maybe for your entire lifetime. Right? So it’s wonderful that you committed to this. Was it very strenuous work for you, or did you record it in a few sittings?
J: That’s right, it was a very time consuming process, because there were so many details that I didn’t consider, that I had in the back of my mind that the hardest challenge was going to be playing the music, and yet I found that I was stretched and challenged in so many other areas of my life and having to learn new skills for the first time, that, for example, learning how to speak to a TV camera, learning how to move your hands at the right time, how to walk slowly and leisurely, and then all the video editing process, how that’s done and the art work design, and then dealing with the DVD manufacturing company and making sure that they made it exactly right, and checking it at all times. There’s a huge amount of work and lots of things to manage that I had thought about.
V: Right. So, I’ve seen you play in Vilnius, and I have seen your DVD here in our living room with Ausra, and we were so impressed that a person who has started playing the organ literally 7 years ago could do things like that on a large 3 manual organ in Vilnius, but also on your two manual instrument in Morewell. We were so impressed, and you are like a living example of what a person can achieve regardless of age. It doesn’t matter when you start. Right? It doesn’t matter that you didn’t start at six years old or seven years old like famous virtuosos would start. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t have a formal musical education. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” I believe this kind of saying fits you very well, because you had a passion, you had a dream, and you persevered and you saw it through.
J. Yes, thank you! Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you, and as I said at the start, I would not have been able to achieve any of this without the teaching and important coaching you’ve given me online, but I think even more than the coaching is the challenge and inspiration, because I think these experiences have been one of the bravest things that I’ve ever done, because there have been so many self doubts. For example, when I did the initial recordings, I played the music over about two days, and then I did the introductions of the DVD for each of the pieces at the end of that recording, and that was a big mistake, because I was so tired after all the playing, that I was very flat, I didn’t have energy to teach about pieces to the camera, and I took a copy of the footage away and started looking at it, and I looked at my playing and I looked at the teaching I was doing, and I thought, “oh, maybe I should quit this right now. It’s no good.” And I had some of my very close friends have a look at the initial footage, and they said, this doesn’t look like you. You’re not smiling, you don’t have energy like you normally do when we speak to you. So, then I had to spend about nearly two weeks agonizing over what I was going to do, and I thought, “Do I just push forward with this, and what it is is what it is, or am I going to strive for excellence?” And even though I’ve made a bit of a mess of that, had another go. So, I’ve had to pay quite a bit more money to the cameramen to do another recording session. And in the introduction to the church and pieces of 15 minutes it took more than three hours of recording to get 15 minutes.
(The conversation continues in the next episode)
AVA211: Could you talk in your podcast about the process of actually recording the CD
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 211 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. This question was sent by John, and he writes,
Could you also talk in your podcast about actually recording the CD, like where to place the microphone, or what sort of microphone to use. How to pick the repertoire, what sort of editing processes should be used, and how to organize the actual recording schedule. For example, did you do the whole CD in one hit, or over several days or weeks? Did you record at night when there is less background noise (in a city location).
So Ausra, this is a question which needs a lot of technical knowledge, right?
V: We have recorded several CDs, but those were taken from live performances.
A: Yes. And actually, in some of those cases, we just hired a professional sound engineer to do it. As, for example, at Eastern Michigan University, remember?
V: Oh, so that was additional? Additional cases?
A: Yes, but we have the CD from that.
V: Mhm. Additional, or a couple of CDs that I did alone, or with a soloist or with the choir at our church.
V: So yes, to hire a professional sound engineer is probably the best quality choice, right? Because if you do it all by yourself, then it puts a lot of stress on yourself.
A: That’s true. Unless you know about where to put the microphones, I think in each case it’s the individual’s choice. It depends on the organ, and the room that organ is built in, and so on and so forth. But of course, if you will record, then it’s best to do it at night; then you have less outside noise.
V: Mhm, mhm. And it’s important not to be interrupted, right?
A: That’s right!
V: Because even the slightest noise can be heard in the final recording, and it will be evidence, basically--and it will be there forever!
A: That’s right. Now, about how to record it, it depends on how you want to do it. If you want to have a live performance, that’s one way to do it. Then you will just have to play everything, each piece, from beginning to end. And if you are thinking about editing things, then you can do several “shots” of each piece. And the most important thing that way is that you would pick up the same tempo each time. That way you will be able to edit, to cut some things, and to edit some things, and to glue things together.
V: Mhm. Yeah, sound engineers can do that without the slightest break.
A: Yes. Although for myself, I prefer a live recording, without any cuts and edits.
V: Depending on how long the piece is, right? If it’s like, let’s say...Let’s say you’re playing Sonata by Reubke, which lasts 25 minutes, right? And to play it at a level suitable not only for a recording, but as evidence for years to come for you, it might be exceedingly difficult.
A: Well, yes, that’s true, but you know, it depends on what is the reason for your recording.
A: If you want to sell it, then yes, do as much editing as you can. But if you are required, for example, to send a recording for (let’s say) an audition, for (let’s say) a recital in some famous cathedral, or you are applying for an organ competition somewhere--you are required to send a live recording.
A: Without any edits, any cuts. So it depends on what your final purpose is.
V: Or if the mistakes are very minor and not really obvious…
V: Then it might be okay for a gift recording.
A: That’s true. And sometimes you even have to provide a witness, somebody that the people that you’re sending a recording to actually know and can trust--
A: That you really did it without any editing.
V: Right. So, those CDs that we recently published with Kunaki--we chose live performances we’ve played, from real concerts that we felt were sort of acceptable. They might have one or two very minor things, but we didn’t notice them, right? We didn’t look at them under a microscope. And nobody will look through the microscope at your recording. Basically, you have to be happy with your performance, and the most important thing is that you feel satisfied with the quality level for many years to come, right? And then you can release it as a public recording. Don’t you think, Ausra?
A: Yes, I agree.
V: Some people are too meticulous for my taste. They work in small fragments, like several measures each, and then basically spend weeks with their sound engineer. Not only is it very expensive to do it this way, but it takes the life out of the recording.
A: That’s true. I think the live recordings are the most exciting.
A: Of course, there are people who just listen to the CDs or to any recordings, and the main goal of their listening to it is to find your mistakes.
A: There are people like that.
A: But usually, those are people who cannot play well themselves.
V: Exactly. And if you receive a harsh comment from them, and you ask them to give an example of their playing, they usually back off--and disappear!
A: I know.
V: So...for John and others who are wondering how to record a CD, we would like to offer the following advice as a summary, probably, of what we have said so far: that yes, you need to be basically prepared. Regardless if you are playing it live or not, with a sound engineer waiting for you, you have to be as well-prepared as possible. Don’t waste your or your engineer’s time. Right? Not only is it expensive to do many many takes over and over again, but it’s not really professional, right?
A: True, true.
V: Your sound engineer might be annoyed. And so, spend as much time as you can preparing yourself. And you can do the following: if you have a good camera, video camera or even a microphone with an audio recorder, you could record your own live concerts, and play as best you can; and then, you can freely choose whatever you like. Even some pieces you don’t like, you can omit, right? And you can make a compilation CD out of 4 or 5 or 6 “recitals” over the years, not necessarily in one sitting. But those pieces would be done live, right Ausra?
V: Without any extra work on your part. You just show up and play, and if you like the performance, you can publish it in a recording.
A: Yes, and these make great gifts for your friends.
V: Mhm. But if you do need a sound engineer with some editing, I think playing your piece at least 3 times would be helpful.
A: Yes, that’s true, because sometimes things happen like, you play a piece straight through
A: Without any stopping. And somehow you feel that everything went just fine. But then, after listening carefully back to your recording, you might find some small things that you would want to change.
V: Exactly. That was the case with me, playing d minor Toccata by Bach. And the first passage, or a couple of pages, went really smoothly--I thought. And I left it without any repetition, without any retakes, because I was happy. But then, when I brought the recording to a sound engineer, we both listened, and right at the end of the first page, I made a small--the slightest!--mistake. And I didn’t have a second run, or a third run, like I did for the Fugue, for example. And he had to work really really hard to cover my tracks.
A: I remember that time, actually. And you know, it’s a funny thing, very bizarre thing: I hadn’t heard that mistake either. I was present; I was turning pages for you.
A: I don’t know what happened to us. Seems like an elephant stood on our ear that night.
V: Haha. So, I hope an elephant will be present in the room, but not on your ear, when you record. So try it out; try both ways: live recording, or with several takes, and see what you like most, right? One last thing, Ausra: when are you more relaxed, when you know that somebody is recording you, or when you don’t?
A: Of course when nobody’s recording me!
V: So, if let’s say, if we said, “This recital will be recorded and hopefully published as a CD,” you will be very stressed out, right?
V: Me too. And whenever I play this way, I make one or two mistakes; I get very nervous about the entire recital. And it’s not good. I think when you make a mistake like this, you have to relax and say, “Oh, NOW it’s official. You made a mistake. It’s not for public release. ...Now we can make music!” And guess what? Maybe other parts of the recital will be suitable for public release.
A: That’s true, yes.
V: Because of this. Thank you guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 210 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. This question was sent by John, and he asks, “Could you do a podcast about making a CD, please?” So he returned back home from his trip to play in Vilnius, and now he’s in Australia. And he’s thinking about recording some of his organ performances on CD and presenting them as a gift. So, I thought we could talk about how I do it. And I use Kunaki service--it’s an automatized service you can find on Kunaki.com. And once you create your account, you can simply order a CD or a DVD for as low as $1.10. This is a really nice price, and I’ve been using it, and the quality is quite good. So what you do is, you create the account there with your password, and then you log in; and then they say you can make a CD or a DVD, because Kunaki offers a new web-based software which works on Mac, Apple, PC, and Android, and this allows you to quickly and easily create CDs and DVDs. And you click on this link--I did--and I’m transferred to the page for uploading your material, basically. Is it simple enough, Ausra?
A: Yes, I think it’s very simple. And you have done both--audio and video, yes?
V: Yeah, DVD, too.
V: For the same low price.
A: Yes, that’s amazing.
V: And, for example, in order to create a new product, in most cases a professional-looking, shiny, cellophane-wrapped, retail-ready CD or DVD will be available for sale within an hour. Very quickly, because it’s all-automated system. The downside is that you cannot change anything once you publish, and you have to order at least one unit of your CD or DVD every six months--every 180 days.
A: What if you will not order?
V: You can order just for yourself, you know. I’ll do that, too. Because if nobody buys your CD over that time, they will de-list it.
A: I see.
V: So you have to occasionally order...It works as a gift very well, because it’s all professional-looking, and you will not regret it. I think for the first time, once you do this CD or DVD copy, they can even send you a free copy to check the quality, if you are happy with it. And after that, you can release it. So you have--in red color--the audio CD option which will work on all CD audio players; in yellow color, an mp3 CD that will work on audio players that support mp3; the green option, a video DVD that will play on all DVD video players; and that DVD or CD has a blue color option. And audiobook--you can even record an audiobook that will work on audio players that support mp3. The black color version is simple DVD storage and backup. You can store anything on the disc without any artwork. And the last option is an empty, printed disc with no case. So basically, it’s everything you need on one page, right? Let’s say John needs an audio CD which will play on all CD players. Right? But I also need an mp3 CD. So maybe let’s do the version with mp3 CD. So you upload artwork for the jewel case, and audio files, right? And you click this link to do this, and you are transferred to the page which lets you upload. Right? And in this step, you can open a design software, and design--you can design your own artwork, too, which is very handy.
A: Yes, that’s very useful.
V: This is a matrix for ?? CD jewel case, and you can do an insert, too...You can upload or you can format it on this side, too. And then you can upload a back tray image, too. And then you can select and upload audio files, up to 20 files--the normal length of a CD.
A: Yes, it is.
V: And then enter your product information. Only title and label are required, but you can add subtitle and release date, copyright message, label website, performed by...performer website, composer--even assign a catalog number and genre, even put a description. The description is for convenience, if you decide to sell the CD on your website. Because this CD will be available--it will have a separate catalog page, if you have several CDs--let’s say 3 or 5 CDs--you can sell it and receive your payments through PayPal. Right? And you click the green button, “Submit Product,” and off you go--in a few moments, they will be uploaded, depending on your internet speed; and within a few hours at least--maximum, I think--you will get notified in your email inbox that your CD, your product, is retail-ready. So then you can simply order it for yourself, or send it as a gift to other people, other addresses--and even publish it on your website for other people to buy.
A: It’s amazing how easy technology makes our life nowadays.
V: You can assign your own price, right? Any price you want. And if you send it to yourself, you just pay for the production cost, which is $1.10 for one CD or DVD. You see? It’s really simple. It’s all automated, and therefore you will not receive any customer support. Therefore, if something goes wrong, you have to delete this product and start over. Which is understandable.
A: Well, things happen.
V: That’s why they keep this price so low. Because it’s all robot-based somewhere in, I believe, the US--maybe Montana. So, what do you think about it?
A: It’s amazing. I really like it.
V: Yeah, I even recommend this Kunaki service for my colleagues here in Lithuania...I’m not sure whether they’ve taken advantage of it yet because they’re so...they lack initiative. Other than your mp3 files and pictures for artwork, there’s nothing really stopping you, right? From doing this?
V: To do a DVD is a little more complex, because it takes more space, right? A gigabyte or something. But still, I did 8 or 9 improvisation CDs, and they worked well, too. But the simplest way is, of course, CD.
V: You upload artwork, and upload your mp3 files, and description, and off you go.
A: And that’s a great gift for your friends, family, and followers!
V: Well, exactly! For example, for your students and friends, for your colleagues in church, if you have some supporters--they will definitely appreciate it. If you have a Patreon page where somebody can donate to your support, like a subscription-based support for you as an artist, you can send your CD as a gift to them--your best supporters, too. Wonderful! Thank you, guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Because I can
By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
I was at the lunch recital today at Vilnius Cathedral. My colleague Agne Petruskeviciute played works of Tournemire, Marchand and others which I live-streamed on FB.
A couple of days before I suggested Agne would live-stream this event but she said others better do it. So I decided to be this "other". I did it while walking around the Cathedral. It's beautiful.
After the event my colleagues said they were following me with their eyes as I recorded it. They look strangely at me, something like I'm different species.
I can't help it. I see opportunities everywhere where they see limitations.
It doesn't mean I'm failure-proof. No, I make mistakes just as everybody else. In fact, I deliberately try to make MORE mistakes than them.
Because I know that mistakes won't kill me. They only help me grow.
What does it take to have this optimistic mentality?
Maybe realization that life is short. Maybe understanding that each of us are given some talents which we shouldn't hide. Maybe the fear of not reaching my own potential. Maybe all of the above.
What about you?
When you have an opportunity to share your organ practice or performance, do you hide in fear or do you jump in right away? Or perhaps you get started no matter what you feel because it's the right thing to do, because you can?
Then when you get a message like this (from Victoria, our Total Organist student)...
Dear Vidas and Ausra,
...Then you see that it's not for nothing. That actually your work means something to people.
But the first step as always is to care. To care enough to make mistakes, to fall flat on your face, to make a fool of yourself.
Because you can.
By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
Today I'd like to share the video of our latest concert on the Oberlinger organ at St. Casimirus church in Vilnius, Lithuania. On the program: Laudate Dominum and 2 Intradas by Hans Leo Hassler and Sonata No. 2 in F Major for 4 hands by Franz Seydelmann. We hope you'll enjoy it.
Also over the weekend our new CD's arrived in the mail.
Finally, I have created BWV 572 Video Training which will help you master Bach's Piece d'Orgue (50 % discount is valid until February 15).
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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