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Rudy Van Gelder Architect of the Blue Note Sound.

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Presentation on theme: "Rudy Van Gelder Architect of the Blue Note Sound."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rudy Van Gelder Architect of the Blue Note Sound

2 According to researcher Dan Skea... this reclusive self-taught craftsman is by far the most prolific and accomplished sound engineer in the history of jazz, recording many of the music's most acclaimed albums. In a career that has now spanned half a century and has paralleled developments in both modern jazz and recording technology, Van Gelder has contributed to advances in both areas, simultaneously shaping and being shaped by these new developments.... this reclusive self-taught craftsman is by far the most prolific and accomplished sound engineer in the history of jazz, recording many of the music's most acclaimed albums. In a career that has now spanned half a century and has paralleled developments in both modern jazz and recording technology, Van Gelder has contributed to advances in both areas, simultaneously shaping and being shaped by these new developments.

3 Earliest adventures in recording Born November 2, 1924, grew up in Hackensack, NJ Born November 2, 1924, grew up in Hackensack, NJ Began making home recordings with the Home Recordo at age 12 Began making home recordings with the Home Recordo at age 12 Recorded family and friends with disk recording machine, made acetate disks Recorded family and friends with disk recording machine, made acetate disks Played trumpet, became a jazz fan in high school, heard jazz artist on 52 nd St. in NYC Played trumpet, became a jazz fan in high school, heard jazz artist on 52 nd St. in NYC Attended Pennsylvania College of Optometry, recorded amateurs on weekends and summers Attended Pennsylvania College of Optometry, recorded amateurs on weekends and summers

4 After visiting WCAU in Philadelphia I walked into their control room, and the environment there gave me a very strong feeling. It was that this was the sort of place that I'd like to be... [but] at that time there was no profession known as recording engineer. I walked into their control room, and the environment there gave me a very strong feeling. It was that this was the sort of place that I'd like to be... [but] at that time there was no profession known as recording engineer.

5 After college Parents new home included a control room Parents new home included a control room Established optometry practice, recorded on Wednesdays and weekends Established optometry practice, recorded on Wednesdays and weekends Used disk recorder Used disk recorder There were no commercial companies making recording consoles as they are today. The major record companies all built their own, and if you wanted to do anything you had to do it yourself. Which I did. That's how I started. How much did I end up designing? Of course, it was everything. The only commercial designs were available through radio equipment manufacturers. They had consoles for radio purposes and that was my first console, which was actually a modified radio console. There were no commercial companies making recording consoles as they are today. The major record companies all built their own, and if you wanted to do anything you had to do it yourself. Which I did. That's how I started. How much did I end up designing? Of course, it was everything. The only commercial designs were available through radio equipment manufacturers. They had consoles for radio purposes and that was my first console, which was actually a modified radio console.

6 Began recording professional musicians in the late 1940s Initially recorded local/regional jazz artists Initially recorded local/regional jazz artists guinea pigs included Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Lennie Tristano guinea pigs included Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Lennie Tristano According to Billy Taylor, one of the 1 st musicians to care about mike (sic) placement. According to Billy Taylor, one of the 1 st musicians to care about mike (sic) placement. Gelder one of the first to obtain tape recorder (Apex 300), and soon got a second one Gelder one of the first to obtain tape recorder (Apex 300), and soon got a second one Also one of the 1 st to get Neumann U-47 condenser mic Also one of the 1 st to get Neumann U-47 condenser mic Eventually abandoned optometry practice for recording Eventually abandoned optometry practice for recording

7 Other early innovations Miced close up to capture nuances of instruments Miced close up to capture nuances of instruments By 1951 used sound on sound By 1951 used sound on sound Skilled at splicing tape; combined different takes of songs Skilled at splicing tape; combined different takes of songs Skilled at mastering (had Scully lathe) Skilled at mastering (had Scully lathe) Early stereo recordings Early stereo recordings Known as a lover of the music Known as a lover of the music

8 Blue Note 1 st Blue Note session January st Blue Note session January 1953 Owner Alfred Lion interested in hearing details of recordings Owner Alfred Lion interested in hearing details of recordings By experimenting with the various elements of the recording process – the choice of microphones, where they were placed, the physical distribution of musicians within the studio, the volume level at which each player was recordedVan Gelder was able to increasingly achieve a full, yet transparent sound in which each individual instrument could be distinctly heard within the overall mix. Horns were close-miked for greater presence and enhanced with a touch of echo. Basses became less boomy or muddy, their lines more cleanly defined (Skea). By experimenting with the various elements of the recording process – the choice of microphones, where they were placed, the physical distribution of musicians within the studio, the volume level at which each player was recordedVan Gelder was able to increasingly achieve a full, yet transparent sound in which each individual instrument could be distinctly heard within the overall mix. Horns were close-miked for greater presence and enhanced with a touch of echo. Basses became less boomy or muddy, their lines more cleanly defined (Skea). Blue Note recordings had a distinctive sound Blue Note recordings had a distinctive sound

9 Van Gelder on Digital I believe today's equipment is fantastic.. I wouldn't want to face a session without the editing capabilities of digital. There are still maintenance and reliability issues. Tech support helps. From my viewpoint, the essential difference between analog and digital is that analog does not like to be copied. After the original is recorded, edited and mixed, then what? You need a digital delivery medium. In that sense, the final product can be much higher quality than in the '70s. I believe today's equipment is fantastic.. I wouldn't want to face a session without the editing capabilities of digital. There are still maintenance and reliability issues. Tech support helps. From my viewpoint, the essential difference between analog and digital is that analog does not like to be copied. After the original is recorded, edited and mixed, then what? You need a digital delivery medium. In that sense, the final product can be much higher quality than in the '70s.

10 Van Gelder on Consumer Listening Quality is vastly improved in the current professional production phase. Quality in the home playback phase is questionable: home theater with dinky so-called satellite speakers and subwoofers, ads saying you can get surround sound in your laptop computer, MP3s, lossy compression, music through your cell phone, streaming music on the Internet come on. Quality is vastly improved in the current professional production phase. Quality in the home playback phase is questionable: home theater with dinky so-called satellite speakers and subwoofers, ads saying you can get surround sound in your laptop computer, MP3s, lossy compression, music through your cell phone, streaming music on the Internet come on.


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