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Spencer W

Tips for recording whistling?

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Anyone got an tips on recording whistling? I'm having a hard time getting a decent signal without getting a fair amount of wind noise...

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Nothing like a great whistled melody. It's a bit of a dying art, no? Rather like great harp (harmonica) playing.

 

Every now and then, I'll be in some out-of-the-way environment, like a rodeo or plant nursery, and I'll hear some working-class old guy whistling... flawlessly. Gorgeous perfect pitch and perfect vibrato. I think: He would've been in prime demand at L.A. studios of the 1950's! Say, on a Perry Como, Vaughn Monroe, Hugo Montenegro or Frankie Laine record.

 

Seems to me, most whistling records I know of had the guy whistling in a big chamber... ie., not near the mic at all...

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I would not whistle straight on into the mic.

Id offset the capsule a bit or, depending on the polar pattern, put a little angle on it.

 

and/or

 

I'd use the pencil taped to the front of the mic as "windbreaker" trick

 

I'd try to get a dynamiclly contolled take and use little if any compression.

 

If plosives and wind are still too much of a problem I might try a dynamic mic rather than a condenser.

 

YMMV

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I'm having a hard time getting a decent signal without getting a fair amount of wind noise...

 

This tip also works for avoid popping P's and B's without needing a screen:

 

Put the microphone directly to the side of the performer's mouth, out of the way of forward air blasts, but close to their mouth. This gives a very intimate sound because it's so close, while avoiding all "air" issues. An omni may work better for this than a cardioid because omni's have no proximity effect.

 

--Ethan

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Forget trying to record real whistling, get this and your problems are solved... It's free... :)

 

http://www.simple-media.co.uk/music/vsti/vsti.htm#theshepherd

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+1 on the side-mic technique.

 

I sing "Dock of the Bay" quite often at little weeknight pick-up gigs, and simply angle my mouth to the side of the mic, for the whistling.

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I've done exactly what the others have described, which is to sing "across" the mic (putting the mic to the side of the mouth), and that works well.

 

I might add that singing "across" the mic can sometimes help other problems as well, such as someone doing narration with a mic that has no pop filter, etc.

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A little story about recording whistling:

Back in the mid 90's I was working on a recording project at a major studio in Sacramento and one day during playback the flute player was in the control room and started absent-mindedly whistling the melody. The engineer, who has recorded gold and platinium albums, looked at her and said, whoa! get out in the studio and do that again. He said it was the most "musical" whistling he had ever heard. So he recorded it and we used it in the track where it sounds amazing. Unfortunately, I don't have any technical details of how it was recorded, other than that it was the same Neuman U87 they used for the flute. But it was one of those unintended spontaneous things that can happen in a recording session that makes it interesting.

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singing "across" the mic can sometimes help other problems as well, such as someone doing narration with a mic that has no pop filter, etc.

 

Right. I don't own a pop filter and I never will because it's just not needed. BTW, I learned this trick from Lenny Stea, an old-school engineer from the 60s and 70s (he's still around) who worked on some of the early Four Seasons recordings. Back then there were no stocking mesh pop filters! :thu:

 

--Ethan

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It's absolutely true, Ethan...it's not needed. At least, not if you have a singer who knows what s/he is doing. But I don't know about you, but I don't have singers who are really savvy at microphone technique in the studio, so I use one of those metal pop filters most of the time. With some people, I can get away without one, but most singers who come into my studio unfortunately need to have it placed there...and besides, it stops pizza and lettuce from accumulating on my Lawson. :D

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That's good if you are recording in cardioid, but I often have the mic in omni, so I really need the singer to sing across the mic, and I often don't get that from the singer. Habits are hard to break, even in inexperienced singers.

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Anyone got an tips on recording whistling? I'm having a hard time getting a decent signal without getting a fair amount of wind noise...

 

Use a synth.

 

After that, if you're really concerned about realism,

whistle along with the synth whistle to give it breath noise.

 

Here's an original whistle tune I recorded in January.

 

It's been my most downloaded song since I posted it up on New Year's Day, 2008.

So I'm assuming most of the downloaders aren't any more concerned

about hearing breath noise than I was when I recorded it.

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It's the coolest whistle synth out there... All it does is the whistle sound, but it's realistic and easy to do...

 

Too bad it's VST. Otherwise I would try it out.

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I think one way would be to have a really reflective room with both close and distant miking. Nothing like natural ambiance for something like that.

Jackson Browne had a song, Lawyers in Love that had some great whisteling in it. May have been synthetic but sounds real enough. I cant whistle for crap any more but My old man could whistle like that.

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Your synth doesn't sound anything remotely close to a human whistling.

 

Thanks for your input.

 

It's been my top download almost since I posted it on New

Year's Day. I could have spent more time on it. But my time

is valuable & limited. So I didn't.

 

Here's another whistle track for your listening pleasure.

 

Bossa Parisienne

 

I did it on a synth too.

 

It's a better composition, IMO...about 6 years old.

It's one of my best.

 

And the next time I need a whistle track, I'll most likely

play it on a synth too.

 

I don't rule out actually whistling.

Anything is possible.

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