Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Devotional Sessions 1 - Mike Cohen /Gary Justice Kirtan with Ron Allen, Anwar Khurshid, Gurpreet Chana and Hector Centeno

Devotion Sessions 1-
Kirtan with Mike Cohen, Gary Justice, Ron Allen, Anwar Khurshid, Gurpreet Chana and Hector Centeno.

Kirtan Recording Session - April 20, 2011
(audio files are at the end)

For those of you not familiar with Kirtan, one definition of this Sanskrit word is "to repeat" The leader chants a sacred sound and the others call it back, usually in a melodic fashion and often in the context of a devotional song, or "Bhajan".  Together, all are letting go of obstacles, celebrating Consciousness and calling out to our shared, love-nature, represented by words pointing to Bliss, Peace, etc., or to Deities, or excerpts from sacred text.

This story is about a recording session that was a focused attempt to create a conscious, recorded Meditation-Kirtan session involving Master Yogi-Musicians.

Kirtan is an ancient tradition in India, practiced daily along with other rituals to keep one in a mindful state, tuned in to life's purpose. In India it is done with (of course) Indian music - which works in different systems than Western music.  These systems provide a good environment for devotional expression.

Recently there has been a big growth of Western Kirtan - call and answer chanting, using Indian languages and Hindu concepts, but in a Western music style.  This can be quite a different experience.   Indians who participate in Kirtan do it frequently, in temples, in a community way, and naturally surrender from a deep place within. At the same time it can become like everyday bliss-candy or more of a cultural ritual without deeply considering its transformational potential.  Westerners, while hoping to make it a devotional or yoga practice, sometimes can't resist blending it with their natural inclination towards entertainment and business, further deepening the habits this "yoga" was supposed to help relieve.   At the same time Western "yoga" people who are sincere have the potential of bringing a fresh, personal commitment to such practices, and may be more inclined over time to inquire about the big picture of yoga such as meditation, asana and more. 

So, for this project I was interested in bringing these two worlds together, in "The Devotion Sessions". Indian music masters with their insight and methods, and Western practitioners with their commitment and freshness.  There seem to be many young Western Kirtan leaders coming out, hoping, as a form of service, to start spreading this practice among the masses, as Kirtan recording artists and concert performers.  Wouldn't it be nice to support them with some exposure to and resources from some of the roots of these methods and the culture that goes with it?   And at the same time, empower Indians to see how far their yoga culture is reaching, have them share their deeper insights and skills, and be re-inspired by participating with enthusiastic Westerners.  Let's all become yogis! Okay that might not happen, but the planet may appreciate it if more of us to take some positive steps towards being more joyful and less destructive...

Luckily I have a friend in Mike Cohen who is well grounded in his Kirtan path, and does the practice in a way I can relate to, that feels real.  He has a student relationship within a Hindu lineage and regularly visits his spiritual teacher's teacher in India.   Also Mike is musically equipped to be able respond to some of the Eastern music concepts, and to improvise and be in the moment, and fully integrate his spiritual expression in the process.

Mike Cohen -Kirtan Leader, Harmonium

So in Early March I had it in mind to set aside some time with Mike who will be in Toronto in April.  All in one session, Mike and I would lead "unplanned" Devotional Kirtans in the REVsound studio, accompanied by deep, powerful players from roots of Indian traditions. These will be the fruits of in-studio meditation, attempting to completely arrive in the present, feeling the rich fullness of being and the deep appreciation that comes with such awareness.  Then we'll make sound to express our devotion to that. A handful of Kirtan singers from Toronto's Indian culture communities would be present to provide a wonderful chorus of "answers" to the "call" vocals.

We were able to assemble Ron Allen (Flute), Anwar Khurshid (Sitar) and Gurpreet Chana (Tabla), all of them familiar with meditation and devotional spirituality. Mike would so some songs from his recent record OM Dattatreya - deconstructed - and for my turns I would open to entirely spontaneous chanting, based on the moment, leading the others into these as they unfold.

We would do our tuning and technical configuration and testing first, then go into silent meditation, and then see what comes out. The point was not to use our music skills to contrive and "set up" something that "sounds spiritual" or pulls the heart strings. True consciousness just shows up, faceless and raw. Do we have the courage to allow this, without our contrivance? Without composed music, arrangements and charts? And do we have the skill to "host" and care for what shows up with grace and enough control to make music with it -directly and naturally without much talk or organizing?

Preparing For the Session

Networking through musicians I knew, I had started contacting people over a month ahead, seeking advanced players who were also practitioners of meditation and Kirtan chanting. It was actually really difficult to get five such people with enough common times to get in a room for five hours. And then, we needed singers -but singers very familiar with Kirtan, who really felt and practiced the concepts -who also sing really well and were willing to come to a recording studio to do it, outside of their usual devotional setting.   This involved going to temples and centres such as Sathya Sai Baba in Mississauga, Sivananda Vedanta Ashram, Yoga Schools and various other events, scouting the room both among the leaders and the repeaters.

As it turned out, many with whom I traded numbers did not follow through afterwards or return calls, or had committed but canceled with short notice, or were willing but not fully qualified for one reason or another. So the two days before the experiment/session it turned out I had no singers and was running about at the last moment, seeking alternatives to get something together.  More on that later.

Of the many tabla players I contacted, Gurpreet was very gracious, and, even though he was busy wrapping 3 album projects before leaving the country for an extended time (leaving in about 3 weeks), he was interested in coming by in advance of the session, to do some chanting and playing together just the two of us, to see how our chemistry felt together. One of the times we got together was at 6 a.m. and we kind of did it as morning practice. He has a very gentle and meditative presence and walks with peace. He also has much experience with Kirtan, starting at 8 years old playing Tabla at community Kirtans and soon thereafter beginning classical training.  This was obvious in his many techniques of subtle ornamentation, building the energy and turning little stumblings (of others) into cool moments during the spontaneous nature of the Kirtan process.

Gurpreet Chana -Tabla

Debbie Danbrook who performed with Mike and I a week before at the Toronto International Yoga Show Kirtan, had suggested Anwar Khurshid on Sitar. Again, he was wiling to come over to the studio well in advance to try some playing and chanting together and see what might be. Again, after playing together just a little we found much common ground.  . He is a sweet soul full of positivity, enthusiasm and great mastery of his instrument and of the vast Indian musical systems.

I had been playing with Mike at his Kirtan performances during the prior week, at a Buddha Body Yoga class with Jeanine Woodall, at an Ambrosia Hub/ Loft 404 conscious party, and doing the main wrap-up Kirtan event at the Toronto Yoga Show, where I had met Debbie and she suggested Anwar.   Mike was only in town from the U.S. for two weeks but made himself available to spend some time together in the recording space a day ahead, to do some meditation practice, tune in together and set our intention. We really wanted to make the recording session a "surrendered" experience and not get too carried away with our music, professional or social ambitions.  On reflection, between the two of us, Mike held that intention in a very conscious way during our actual record session. To observe this was quite grounding for me, since I was balancing a number of tasks supporting all parties as producer and also playing percussion, harmonium and singing and didn't want to get carried away by those things, and had to resist getting distracted from the wonderful goal we had set to stay conscious.

Ron Allen was called with little notice and graciously interrupted other important work to join us.  During our session his vast experience and quick ears were a great resource.  He provided very subtle yet clearly astute comments and it was a source of direction just feeling him feeling the situation with high sensitivity. Ron very naturally weaved through what others were doing and offered velvety playful flute poetry that made everything work and uplifted the entire effort. At one moment he spontaneously reached over and added a second low Bayan drum to Gurpreet's tabla set in a wonderful rhythm that brought us some earthy power just when needed.

Hector also was amazing. Completely busy with complex technical challenges in his work as technical director with NAISA (New Adventures in Sound Art), he was generous enough to bring his special devices over and provide deep support for me, offering expertise without making demands. Besides his background as musical and sound composer, he is a true innovator in recording natural sounds of the environment, most recently on the cutting edge of a new microphone technique we'll explain below.  It was an important point to try hear the subtle suggestions from all of Hector, Ron, Gurpreet and Mike.

The day of the session, I needed some additional rental gear and spent quite a bit of time considering microphones and placement, setting up clean lines, software, etc.  One thing about an "all in the moment" recording, with a plan of not overdubbing anything later, is you have to cover various possibilities, for example -having a good headphone mix and phones for all - even though we may not use headphones.  And, besides singing I wasn't sure whether I would play bass, percussion or 2nd harmonium, so we had all these set up and mic-ed to have options.

Another issue was leakage. As opposed to being separated by glass booths, we want to be close to each other in the same room. This means our sound will be going into each others mics so exact mic placement is a huge issue.  Although I have some experience with subtle mic placements in acoustical groups there is often a very capable record engineer involved in the setup, but today I was setting up alone. I had asked for help from my talented recording/composer friend Hector Centeno but he was taken up until an hour before the session was to start.   In our prep talks, hearing we wanted to be "in the moment" and produce a natural sound that would come out like "being there" Hector brought something very interesting to the table

Hector Centeno -Innovative Recordist

Ambisonic Recording

Hector is a very intelligent, qualified, sensitive, and radical person. His current perspective is  that all the sound of the room should be captured at one mic source, not multiple points and not multitracked to be mixed later - so everyone should "live mix" their own levels during the performance.  Considerable time should be allowed for choosing the exact best place for the stereo microphone -recording a bit, listening and re-placing the mic or adjusting our playing levels until the optimum capture strategy is achieved. Then the music will mix itself as just as we express it.

To this end he had built a stereo mic device that holds two microphones and achieves a stereo image with a particularly vivid stereo image. SO I put this to use as the main stereo room mic, but enhanced it with multiple stereo mics as well so we'd have various options in the capture. But, as well as this, he has been working with a system called "Ambisonic Recording", which  holds four mic capsules in one housing.  The mics are faced left, right, up, down, providing four feeds, as opposed to the two left/right of a stereo mic). These four feeds record not to four "tracks", but to a special software that later decodes the four signals as though they were at a single point in space.

This can be decoded into stereo, binaural, surround and other formats with many variables to try and achieve imaging that represent a true capture of the time-space event. In a way this was symbolically and practically the most honest way to meet our goal -since it was a kind of magically vivid realism we were attempting to capture.  We hoped the recording could reveal the Devotion to a Moment that is inherent to the process of meditation and to playing music consciously. What better way than "hearing" from one point in space, all of us truly playing our parts and levels to make things dance together in real time, one take only, and no prepared repertoire!
There were several obstacles to overcome:

1) Allowing for various capture possibilities meant a lot of setup -we needed the ambisonic setup, the stereo pair setup, plus multiple mics in case we chose later to do a mix of levels, in case our fancy ideas about capturing didn't produce a good mix after all!

2) This made for an extensive sound check even after the musicians arrived, leaving only limited time to actually do takes.  How easy will it be to focus on a decent length of a formal meditation session under that kind of pressure, or will it even feel contrived to suggest this to the group?

3) These are high-powered capable, busy, productive people who may be used to showing up, playing perfectly and leaving all in a short time (and well paid for doing so!) - is there a risk of burning them out before we get to takes? Or disgruntling them with all these extra "meditation" parameters, etc.

4) We have never done this as a group and some of the people had never even met each other before. We are from various traditions of spirituality - Zen, Sikhism, Ba'Hai, Hinduism and perhaps some I am not aware of.    It was to be a "reality ceremony", a devotional ceremony and a spiritually conscious one -in the most open way possible. Meeting for the first time from different faiths or approaches will require open hearted participants if we are to efficiently find a common ground.  Luckily these were indeed just such people.

5) After much trying but schedules and other factors not matching up, I actually didn't have any backup singers to do the "answer" to the Kirtan leader's "call".  Whaat, in a Kirtan?  Well a couple days before the session I resolved to this -it was getting so hard to organize a group of them.  As a matter of fact, it is done on Kirtan recordings that you might leave the "answer" out or have a single voice answer, or have the leader do the answer, or an instrument.

This makes sense because a large group of answer singers on a recording sometimes doesn’t translate the way you mighty experience the same situation live. Also, if you de-emphasize or completely leave off the "answer" then the listener can answer along in the spaces if they wish, or just enjoy the space. So this is sometimes a done thing and, rather than bring in people not quite up to the task, I let go of having any backup singers. We would decide in the moment how to handle the "answer" spaces, or just let it happen however it happens. We could also add backup singers later (although this would break our rule of capturing only).

Working with such perceptive, open personalities, this "answer" role issue didn't seem like a problem. What language or concepts to use in the words was more of a concern. We want everyone engaged and able to relate to what's being said, in fact, praying along as the play!  Mike has been rooted in Hinduistic concepts using lots of names of deities in his practice, I have been using more neutral concepts such as "peace" and "bilss", usually in Sanskrit language and in Korean.  But what are the other players into? Is it fair to invite others to be devotional with you when you are using specific cultural references? What if they are Sikh? Muslim? Atheist?  Devotion is devotion and BIG awareness is BIG awareness and needn't matter.  I had chosen certain types of people for these reasons and felt I was in that kind of open, broad-thinking company, and it turned out to be absolutely true.

 Two things that helped we - 1) we come from an extremely multicultural city and 2) these are top level musicians, experienced relating with others form many orientations, in music itself..  The music can always become a common ground. The vast experience we all have with relating and finding the "common Self" on a purely musical level, makes this other step of finding the "common self" in spirituality not so unfamiliar, even if from differing traditions.  Isn't it the point of spiritual practice to see beyond the "practice"?  Whether it is "God" as a being with this name or that, or as a nameless all-pervading Consciousness, or not as a separate God but as a deeper part of self that is connected to all other selves.

In a way it is all semantics and musicians well know that without labels and categories, energy dancing is energy dancing and it is easy to dance with one who has regularly experienced such realms. To those acquainted with Harmony, free flow has some absolutes and some order to it, so it is easy for such beings to deal with each other spontaneously.

Ron Allen - Flutes, Tabla, Kirtan answer vocals

The People Involved

Mike Cohen (Kirtan Leader & Harmonium) Mike spent some years as a professional saxophonist, and studied at Eastman School of Music touring and recording with their top jazz ensembles.  He conducts a therapeutic practice in Somatic Healing, and conducts Leadership Training Workshops. Mike is active in several American and Canadian Cities touring full-time leading Kirtans, inspired by his active relationship with his spiritual teacher in the Dattatreya Hindu lineage. He is about to release his second Kirtan CD this year.

Ron Allen (Flutes and 2nd tabla) is a Master of Masters of Indian and other world flutes.  One of the flutes he was playing on this session was a gift from  H.H. The Dalai Lama. He composed the exotic music in the film Passion of The Christ and has too many other credits to list here, including virtuosity in tenor and alto sax,  North and South India, producer of many healing and world music records and supports a private  system to children in need.

Anwar Khurshid is a  Master of Sitar, also  the artistic director of The Sitar School of Toronto.  He played on the soundtrack for the film Kama Sutra and has many other credits to his name including prolific performances at cultural events in Canada and the U.S. Currently he is breaking new ground in his concert performance series at Inner Garden and elsewhere, merging Classical Sitar with improvisational forms from flamenco guitar to jazz drumming and more.

Gurpreet (The Tabla Guy) Chana is an accomplished player of Tabla and multiple percussion instruments who has specialized in relating to the broader community with interesting fusions and alliances. He has a 22 year background in classical  and Kirtan tabla in the Punjab Gharana style and is well known for his tabla fusions with dance DJ's and many other idiom - bending alliances, always aimed at learning of True Self.

Hector Centeno ( Recordist) has a Masters Degree in Music Composition  and since 2004 has been breaking new ground internationally with his Zen inspired soundscape composition.  His innovations with electro-acoustic work have created interesting uses of granular synthesis, spectral processing and various multi-channel sound reproduction techniques. Hector's current focus is capturing real life sounds in vivid ways, regarding these natural interactions as a kind of natural, high-art orchestration of phenomenon, worth observing without interference.

Gary Justice Kirtan Leader, supportive percussion, session producer has decades of experience composing, performing and organizing musicians in the creation of live and recorded music, crossing boundaries of styles that are too many to list.   With a background in both Zen and Himalayan Yoga practices, his recent focus has been on exploring the sounds that people make to express their love and exploration of the consciousness that we are all made of, which this year has taken him to villages in rural India, up in the Himalayas and also in Maharastra state. He is a regular participant in local meditation, yoga and chanting retreats and workshops, both as a student and a facilitator.

Gary Justice -Kirtan Leader, Producer

How It Went

Well, it was such a busy day getting started, with some late arrivals and some technical issues that an extended formal mediation session seemed a little out of reach.  I don't know why this should be, because in my own life I get this done no matter what -  many things  I consider less important get canceled to allow for practice time. But in a group dynamic, and not wanting to keep people overtime, not knowing their limits, it just seemed to go that way.   At the same time, everyone came with such a positive sincere, meditative attitude.  There was no time wasted propping up each others egos or rattling on about all the gigs everyone is doing, or current affairs.  This was deeply appreciated -there was a lot of patience and grounded-ness in the air.

Personally this touched my heart and helped keep me focused.   I had a lot to balance -making the most of all the skill in the room - supporting Hector in achieving what we needed technically, him trying to handle the controls of my (less familiar to him) REVsound recording system as well as a second (Ambisonic) system he had brought. Balancing with Mike when it felt right for he or me to lead at given moments, and whether to have the group repeat something we have tried, once more to get it a little "closer", or move on to yet another spontaneous gem and discern what happened later. And of course all of this in as much of a collaborative way as is practical. I am deeply grateful to all for their support and undemanding approach.

About two hours into our tine together (we had allowed about 4 hours) we did some takes which felt good-ish but you could feel the newness of the relationship and our newness to the method. There was indeed a wonderful electricity and a beautiful sharing of humility in the room.   You could feel all the performers had the ability to shine on their instruments and voices. But as far as good takes first time (we were doing a fresh piece for each take), most takes sounded kind of "almost" but full of good ideas and good intent. The overall musical relating and atmosphere was great, but there was often an event here or there that was below the bar of "acceptable" stumbling or a lack of cohesiveness over the course of a few bars. It's kind of amazing that those involved were so good -without charts or plans, a vague or muddy situation would not last more than a few bars at worst, before being gracefully resolved one way or another.  Perhaps I should have gone for repeating each concept twice or even three times, but I guess I was really focused on this "in the moment" plan and wanted to see that through, even if it meant one great track would come off well.   Good little motifs seemed to fall out of the sky as did wonderful handling and integrating of them. All this being witnessed by each other and being recorded by the various capture schemes was very inspiring.

The relative loudness levels were difficult - the Harmonium in particular felt too loud, as did the metal percussion I was hoping to play.  And it was an unknown how the flavour of the mics might be different from what we were hearing in the room, or our memory of the brief listening back before we got into takes.  Time felt a little tight for extensive stopping and listening -which is a major requirement of this method.  We had opted not to use headphones at all, so listening would have meant everyone getting up and crowding around the console, which would really break up the "moment" of the takes, or pumping it through less accurate sounding speakers in the record floor area and risking an off-feeling response.

So, we kind of just kept trying things and hoped for the best. At about the three hour mark it was past dinner time and some people were hungry.  Diane had generously prepared some salad, brown rice and dhal and some ginger tea so we all went upstairs and sat on floor mats at a low table, did a quiet grace, had a light bite and a very nice peaceful time together. Everyone was so gentle and respectful it was like being in divine company.

Then we went down to do the "real" session.  All had felt like a warm-up to this moment. At this point, a 20 minute meditation and about 2 hours of takes would have been perfect, but we had a total of about 30 minutes left! After so much prep it was a bit disappointing not having the opportunity to seriously extend the session. So with thirty minutes did what we could, and recorded the whole time.

In all, I could have perhaps organized things a little better and been a bit more sensitive to some of the signals coming form the others. As I mentioned having more time, allowing a few structural decisions or described motifs, and doing multiple takes in some cases would have been good, and why couldn't that have all been approached as meditative, or "in the moment"? 

Some very interesting things just "came out" since there was little planning, and repeating this process with some modifications feels like a promising endeavor. What we want is genuine group spiritual highness of experience -great peaceful merging together and channel this into a freedom take, a love take that soars, to a point where a listener of the recording can be triggered into joy and unity consciousness by just listening. And with a solid enough musical integrity to the performance, just by allowing a few supports (such as an extra take and briefly exchanged decisions).  This seems within reach.

How Did The "Ambisonic" vs.  "Stereo" vs. Mixed Multi-Mic Recordings Compare? 

Some advantages of the "mixed" version were the ability to adjust levels into a perspective that well showcased what each of the players were doing at various times. The classic technique of , achieving a groove balance after the fact and of choosing elements to be "background" and "foreground" really can add definition, purpose and character to a take. For example in a real room, the vocal just kind of bounces off the walls and acoustic players must really play "under" it, but even if they are quiet enough, the vocal feels like it is "over there" - because - it is! Modern recordings have long since habitually placed the vocal in your face, with all other elements balanced artfully around it.  This is a highly artificial situation that we have come to rely on. .We write and perform our music to be produced this way and as listeners it seems muddy to us if not produced this way.

Also, addition of certain effects, compared to the flat, ordinary in-a-room sound of the take, brought a deep and swirly atmosphere to things that you would have had to record in a large temple to achieve without effects -and adding these perhaps brought that temple atmosphere to mind. Also, since some of the playing was a bit loose (understandably)  the timed echoes opened things up, making a less distinct meter at times that made it seem okay if things shifted a bit here and there playing-wise. But does the end result feel real or are these just superficial effects that do not satisfy the deeper part of the listener? Are we merely reinforcing our artificial experience, just as we do with entertainment, food clothing and conversation, settling for an "indulged", coloured version?

The decode adjust parameters of an ambisonic recording are not   equalization or dynamics compression, or reverb etc.  They are more fundamental, to do with calculations that add a "virtual" mic after the fact, as though it were present during the recording. Or balance between the four mics.  Or decode parameters that otherwise subtly affect imaging, data rates, etc. One thing I noticed was that the ambisonic approach kind of leveled out things that may have seemed a problem during the session, such as the loud harmonium. This may have to do with the smoothing nature of four-point recording, or Hector's careful tweaking of the decode. 

There was a very pleasant softness to the higher frequencies, and a naturally smooth blend of all the players, since they are so vividly localized in the stereo field, just as they were sitting in the room.  This aspect was a lot of fun to observe and feel as though in the centre of everyone playing, not sitting in a theatre facing them on a stage.   Accurate imaging of locations and time delays really made things gel with each other, and these attractions made it less likely to want special effects - it draws one into the mood of reality.

Our exposure to "up front" vocals in a pop music mix gives us a bias when hearing vocals naturally captured "in a room". For this, the multi-mic mix is more satisfying. But Hector's admonishment might be that we should get over that and courageously explore what things truly sound like- make a trend of it in our work. This is kind of a reflection of our everyday life experience.  We have built up all these artificial things that seem more satisfying or normal, like cars and eating too much and not feeling pain and it is killing us and the planet! So this is the Yoga of such experiments into truth-seeking audio!

Recording music live in the natural Ambisonic way, no FX, might take some adjusting of “taste” both on the part of the creator and the listener.   But there could be many potential rewards as our expectations and perspective start to calm down and change towards a reality-based mentality. For example, in the live-off-the-floor, no FX recording method, s a better version is essentially comprised of better playing, rather than more extensive "adjustment" after the fact. And, this playing needs to be skillfully executed during the take with the others, not twenty tries by yourself, adding after the fact.

I'm not just suggesting we be "macho" and need to be so good to get it in first take, just to show prowess. But it is a special opportunity for multi-way communication between the players when it all goes down in one take together. All are responding to each other -that's pretty special. On contrast, when you overdub a part later in isolation, anything you do new is lost on those who did their parts earlier, so it becomes a one-way communication.  Also, the nature of a statement made all in one go by a skilled person, compared to one "carefully" gone over, is a much richer statement, informed by intuition and tapping in to mind beyond mind. This is less limited than staying within mind and having the chance to linearly "work out" what you want to do. It comes less from the heart.   What is the nature of Truth? According to Zen, Truth is Immediate, Intimate, Spontaneous, Obvious.    So this all relates to the playing approach, the recording approach, and the kind of ear that one uses to listen to this. It is a way of being in the world generally.

The participants in this session are the kind of people who get that -Anwar for example has walked away from a successful mainstream corporate career, truly changed his lifestyle to embrace the importance of joy and celebration playing music rather than be mired in consuming and conquering. Mike has achieved multiple degrees and trainings, yet lives extremely humbly, traveling around and providing services in situations that are not oriented to profiting the provider.   In their own way all the participants have similar qualities -living for inspiration and a keen interest in truth, instead of path of compromise and superficiality. This isn't an aside - it is the point!

Anwar Khurshid - Sitar, Kirtan Answer Vocals

Here are some of the results in audio:

Song 1 : "Shiva Om"
led by Mike Cohen. The 2 links below are of the same single performance, captured and processed 2 different ways.

a)    Shiva Om  - Ambisonic Recording, decoded for headphones. This was of course a "live off the floor"  take - a single take without rehearsal or charts, no revisiting or adding to it later / no editing or mixing.  The players mixed themselves live, captured by thoughtful placement of the special ambisonic microphone at one spot in the room (very close to the sitar, the quietest instrument). The ambisonic mic has four mics inside the one housing, facing left right up down. The signal is later decoded in software (in this case to binaural stereo) to simulate an experience of "being there".

Shiva Om - Ambisonic recording decoded for binaural imaging with regular stereo headphones :
 "ShivaOMBIN V2e2x.m1"

b) Shiva Om  - Recorded with Multi-Mic Setup -a stereo room pair in a special housing designed by Hector, plus spot mics on each instrument, creating a total of eight audio tracks, which underwent some "musical editing" and was mixed to stereo in the traditional fashion.   Nothing was added after the fact.  This is the same one take as the above two, but has had some  musical editing and mixing to achieve "desired" relative balances, but no additional parts were added.

Shiva OM - Multi-Mic Mixed Version:

Still to come: more songs from this session, and other sessions to follow.

Gary Empty Book Justice
AKA "Greenfiled"

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