The recording process was both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. In my infinite foresight, I failed to confirm that I had assistance during my session, requiring me to transport, set up, and recorded solo.
I used an X/Y stereo mic setup, as previously described, running it into ProTools through the MOTU 896 at 96k. I used the Earthworks SR30 small condenser microphones, which are cardioid microphones with exceptional response.
I placed my microphones in the pews, where I started with facing them towards the front of the congregation, but due to the (suprisingly) low level of the organ, I re-positioned them facing the pipes. I’ve already spoken about the awful room noise I experienced. I knew it was going to be a problem while I was in the space, but after 45 minutes of trying to compromise a position between accurate sound of the room and lower noise, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t position out the hiss, hum, and rumble of the room.
Because the recording setup was so far from the manuals, before each stop I had to start recording and run upstairs to the manuals, leaving about 40 seconds of pre-roll on each file. Once I got to the manuals, I played each note for approximately 8 beats, or 2 bars, at somewhere around 120bpm.
There were some oddities to the organ which I noticed as I was working, one being that certain stops had leakage, where the stop being open inherently produced a low level tone from air leaking into certain pipes.This, like the noise floor, wasn’t something I was able to fix with my limited time and inexperience with organs. I also noticed that certain notes had slight variations in the attack, which are hard to describe other than to say that they were dissimilar to the other notes. After discussing my session with Gordon, who is the caretaker of the Organ, he told me that the difference in attack was caused by dust, and that the organ was over-due for a cleaning. Again, there wasn’t too much I could do about it at the time.
In conclusion, the problems with the noise floor, the air leakage, and the inconsistencies of the attack, leave me to characterize my sample gathering as somewhat of a disappointment, if not an outright failure. The only saving grace being that the recordings are incredibly true to the space, and the organ, even if that means that they don’t sound as crisp and clean as I had hoped.