[Harp-L] MIDI Sounds from a Standard Harmonica

bren@xxxxx bren@xxxxx
Sat Mar 28 10:20:29 EDT 2020

Hi Slim,

That's a very good question. 

The reason I'm using headphones in the video is not to avoid extra speaker
sounds getting into the mic. I have two feeds being recorded: a mic for
talkover and a feed direct from the iPad. I'm using headphones is to avoid
any blending of the voice/acoustic harp sound with the iPad sounds. They
allow me to hear what's coming out of the iPad while I play. In video
editing, I mute the talkover mic at the points where the iPad is making a
sound, so you only hear the iPad in the finished video at those points.

If I were recording the sound from the speakers with a single mic, as you
would hear it on a gig, the talkover mic would record some of my acoustic
harmonica sound and blend it with the iPad sound, so you wouldn't hear the
pure iPad signal.

So that's the technical video-related reason for using headphones. However
your point is valid: the handheld mic could pick up the speaker signal and
that would confuse the Midi tracking. You say that happened to you in the

I'm just working at home, so not using stage volumes. I have a Bose S1 on
the floor for monitoring, which can play pretty loud. However I'm finding
the tracking is still fine even when the speaker is up. I think it's down to
two things:

1. The uni-directional Bulletini mc and the way I'm cupping the harp. This
cuts out quite a lot of background noise.

2. I'm using a Noise Gate on the signal, to avoid Midi glitching at low
volumes. This means that only notes above a certain threshold get picked up
by the Midi tracking software. 

Thanks for flagging this important area up! I'll talk about it in a future
video, and demo the sound recorded through the speaker.

In the meantime I've made a new video in the series about input options:

The double-length version with all the missing details is on my teaching


Brendan Power

-----Original Message-----
From: Slim Heilpern <slim at xxxxx> 
Sent: 27 March 2020 17:49
To: brendan power <bren at xxxxx>; harp-l harp-l
<harp-l at xxxxx>
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] MIDI Sounds from a Standard Harmonica

Very cool Brendan! 

I do have a question for you: 

In the video, I see you're wearing earbuds so I'm assuming you're monitoring
the sound that way. Here's the thing: Several years ago I was experimenting
with a pitch-to-midi device and found major tracking problems when the
harmonica was amplified through speakers at reasonable volume, due to the
microphone picking up the sounds coming from the synth in addition to the
harmonica sound itself. This confused the pitch-to-midi algorithm, and this
was with no other instruments playing (such as drums, bass, guitars,
etc...). That's when I gave up on the idea, since I was not able to mask the
external sounds from being picked up by the microphone. Of course, this
problem didn't exist when playing with headphones.

Have you tried this yet with speakers at gig-like volume?


- Slim

More information about the Harp-L mailing list