How to mic a Kora

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Archmart
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How to mic a Kora

Post by Archmart » Wed Sep 26, 2007 11:41 am

Hey Hey!

Tomorrow I have to mic a Kora.

It's a live scenario. In fact, for various reasons it needs to be a 58 plugged into one of those Fender portable P.A. systems in a college dining hall. He's also singing on another 58. It's effectively just background music during lunch so it's not that critical, but then again, why not ask?

I've actually worked with a Kora player once before, in a much nicer, concert setting, but in that case he actually had a pickup and used a guitar amp. He liked the sound REALLY shrill, too. I hated it.

Of course, common sense says to treat it basically like a guitar, cello, or any other stringed instrument, but perhaps there's something tricky that isn't readily apparent. In any case I'd just like to tell my engineer a good place to start so she can look knowledgable.

Any pointers?

Thanks,
Archmart

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Post by Archmart » Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:58 pm

Bump

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Post by lapsteel » Wed Sep 26, 2007 3:34 pm

I would think you would be alright micing it just like a guitar. Try even going over the player's shoulder and mic by their fingers. Like always, just try a few different things.

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Post by apropos of nothing » Wed Sep 26, 2007 3:45 pm

Hmm. Mic a cora with a '58? Make sure you have some compression available. They're not loud instruments. Quieter than nylon-string acoustic guitar by a long shot. Yeah, try it like you'd try a guitar. I'd concentrate on finding a nice resonant spot on the body. ...And then nail the players shoes to the floor.

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Post by Archmart » Wed Sep 26, 2007 3:50 pm

Hey Hey!

Ah! So there IS another use for a hammer when dealing with a Kora player!

I'm actually hoping he brings a pickup and amp so it ends up not being my problem. There's just no way this is going to go well. I can't be there myself, the gear is consumer, and it's lunch at a college dining hall!

Luckily, it's not a high profile thing.

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Post by cgarges » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:30 pm

I have never miked a kora before, but I just have to chime in and say that I think it's one of the most beautiful and awesome instruments ever.

Chris Garges
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Post by Archmart » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:37 pm

Hey Hey!

Yeh, it can be amazing, but watch out for the player who wants it through a guitar amp set to SHRILL...

Archmart

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Post by Archmart » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:46 pm

Hey Hey!

Ok, so in case anyone ever searches this forum for "Kora" or even "How to mic a Kora", has anyone recorded one who could offer their experience with a Kora in the studio?

Archmart

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Post by apropos of nothing » Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:35 am

Condenser two foot out, say 5-10 degrees off-axis. . Widemouth, but a small might do in a pinch. Unless you want more of an old-school sound, and then put a dynamic nearly on the body. For a more naturalistic effect, you could use boundary mics or spaced omnis, which would be a more appropriate method to my mind if the player is also singing simultaneously. That shoots isolation, but can sometimes capture a better performance.

Speaking of ethnic-instrumentation micing, I saw the Master Musicians of Jajouka at [name of prestigious private college suppressed]. Some clown had close-mic'ed all the zirna-things and area mic'ed the percussion. For FESTIVAL MUSIC, you jerks! So wrongful.

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Post by japmn » Thu Sep 27, 2007 3:10 pm

I have always placed an SM81 at about a 45 degree angle where the strings meet the body about 6" away from the instrument. It works well but can be hard to find a place that is comfortable for the player and good luck if you need a lot of monitor.

I did this for Mamadou Diabate and he really liked it. I didn't use his pickup in the house at all. I did use it to feed his monitor though.

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Micing a Kora

Post by Djembe » Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:32 am

Kora's are VERY quiet instruments. With a mic and no pickup, feedback will always be a problem live. Don't mic the hole - it's a very woofy sound and will only exacerbate the problem. I would see if it's possible to borrow a contact pickup and acoustic guitar preamp.
Ideally a condensor pointing fairly closely at the player's fingers will work. Koras use nylon strings (think classical guitar).
I hear many koras live and recorded that sound metallic like they have steel strings. For recording - avoid pickups.

Blair

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Post by Archmart » Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:47 pm

Hey Hey!

So in the end he had a pickup, plus several stompboxes.

He was using them tastefully, though. It sounded fairly good.

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Post by honkyjonk » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:13 pm

It would be similar to miking a Batali, but make sure and pick a mic that will compliment her delicate female basting.
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Post by iC » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:20 pm

Archmart wrote:Hey Hey!

So in the end he had a pickup, plus several stompboxes.

He was using them tastefully, though. It sounded fairly good.

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