I must say, it’s a far more satisfying experience to play music in a space that’s big enough for the sound. Today’s concert of unaccompanied saxophone music was at St. James United Church, and it felt very nice to play there! Especially after practicing for the past month or so in our very small spare bedroom with no acoustic at all.

Concert spaces are always a tricky thing. You want some resonance, but not too much, and it depends a lot on the instrument/ensemble that’s performing. Redpath Hall, at Mcgill University, is built a bit like many churches – it’s very resonant, and sounds great for early music. I’ve played harpsichord there more times than I can count! But saxophone can really drown in its own echoes in a space like that. I remember one unfortunate event when the McGill Wind Symphony performed there – it was almost painful to hear the amount of sound flying back at us from all corners of the room.

Louder instruments and ensembles usually sound better with a slightly less ‘live’ sound. My saxophone grad recital was in Pollack Hall, which suited the sound of the instrument much more. St. James is probably even better though – a little more live than Pollack, but not nearly so boomy as Redpath.

I did record the whole concert, though I think it was miked a little too closely, since you can hear a bit too much of the keys and other noise, and you don’t get quite as much resonance as was really present in the church. The microphones are very directional, which is usually very nice, since you can record without capturing too much of the audience sounds, but maybe a little bit more room reverb wouldn’t have hurt. That said, it doesn’t sound completely dead. This is the first time I’ve recorded saxophone – I think with the quieter baroque instruments, it makes sense to get a little closer, perhaps. I’m still learning this whole recording thing! I’ve taken these recordings down, in the interest of disk space. E-mail me if you want to hear them.

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