Dame Evelyn Glennie and guitarist / composer Jon Hemmersam have created and recorded an entirely improvised album, Sound Spirits, at Real World Studios for Society of Sound.
Hemmersam describes first hearing Glennie as “like a musical homecoming. Her playing spoke directly to me like a kindred spirit. Evelyn has no restrictions within her sound creation”.
They decided to collaborate and “agreed it had to be an entirely improvised album. No plans, no arrangements or agreements, just pure improvisation in the moment!
Evelyn explained that for her the room is part of the sound, she uses the room as an instrument the original surround sounds if you like. Creating this recording together felt as if we were ‘at one’ with the music, the instruments and the room.”
Percussionist and composer Glennie lost nearly all of her hearing by the age 12. Rather than isolating her, it has given her a unique connection to her music. In the above soaring demonstration, Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums” (TED)
Production notes from Jake Jackson, the engineer for Sound Spirit:
For the percussion, a lot was played in the piano. I wanted to get an interesting sound. We removed the piano lid and Evelyn placed various pieces of percussion on the soundboard of the piano. There were various effects created by scraping or banging the piano strings. I took a stereo pair of B&K 4011s which I had positioned over the piano, and Evelyn played her instruments underneath. But I also put a C12vr in an omnidirectional pick-up into one of the sound holes of the piano, to get the resonances of the instrument.
For Jon’s guitar, I used another C12vr & a Royer ribbon mic; I used these in combination to get a lovely sound.
I also then had a pair of omnidirectional mics on the balcony of the Wooden Room Studio to capture the ambience, mainly of the piano. We tried not to use too much reverb and to use the sound of the beautiful room.
We recorded onto Protools and did a live mix, as that encapsulated everything about the performance – I didn’t want to lose that special quality by remixing.
I used the preamps from the SSL K-series desk and a Neve 33609 as the only compressor across the mix buss.