[Harp-L] MIDI Sounds from a Standard Harmonica

Slim Heilpern slim@xxxxx
Sat Mar 28 10:56:53 EDT 2020

Yeah, I'm guessing the noise gate definitely helps in this situation. When I was trying to make this work, I was using a CX12 with a reasonably tight hand cup around a very small (and pricey) condenser mic (Audix m1250b) which is not unidirectional (but with the hand cup, that shouldn't make a lot of difference). What probably made a (negative) difference is the exceptional high end quality that that mic picks up (which is what I like in a chrom mic). When I realized that I was having these tracking issues even with no other instruments playing I decided to give up, since other instruments being picked up by the mic would surely complicate things.

The holy grail, I believe, would be an acoustic harmonica that also had DM48-like sensors or some other way to generate the MIDI data. I'm not holding my breath for that :-).

But perhaps, with careful noise-gating and filtering (as in your case, using the Bulletini), that solves the issue. I sure hope so, since as your demo shows, there's a world of possibilities here.


- Slim

> On Mar 28, 2020, at 7:20 AM, bren at xxxxx wrote:
> 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
> past. 
> 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:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHEREPEeVA4
> The double-length version with all the missing details is on my teaching
> site:
> https://vimeo.com/ondemand/harmonicaipad/
> Cheers,
> Brendan Power
> www.x-reed.com
> www.brendan-power.com
> www.youtube.com/brendanpowermusic
> -----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?
> Thanks,
> - Slim

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