Golden Strings of the Sarode, an album by sarode master Aashish Khan and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain released on Moment Records, was recorded live to two-track by Meyer and Dennison in 2001 at the Kensington Unitarian Church in Berkeley, Calif. Produced by Dennison, Meyer, and Antonia Minnecola, the recording was engineered by Meyer using the mid/side microphone technique invented by recording pioneer Alan Blumlein. Meyer suspended a single Neumann SM69 stereo microphone above and in front of the performers, carefully placing it to obtain a good balance between the direct and reverberant sound. The signal was then routed into a custom tunable, complementary phase M/S matrix in order to obtain a flat frequency response and a good impulse response at a distance of 12 feet. The signal was recorded onto a Nagra DII digital tape recorder at a 96 kHz sample rate and 24-bit resolution.
“This GRAMMY nomination is a validation of the recording technique (Meyer Sound Staff Scientist) Roger Schwenke and I developed, which uses the room’s reverberation basis as a guide for microphone placement,” says Meyer. “Our goal was to capture the natural sound of the instruments. There was no equalization used in the recording, and placing the microphones 12 feet back meant that the room supplied the reverberation.”
The album was mastered by San Francisco Bay Area mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine, a long-time associate of Dennison’s. Stubblebine started his mastering career at San Francisco’s legendary studio, The Automatt, where he mastered albums for everyone from Blue Oyster Cult to Santana, as well as projects like the soundtrack album for the film Apocalypse Now.
Khan, one of the foremost sarodists of our time, is the son of famed sarode player Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and grandson of the legendary Acharya Baba Allauddin Khan. Hussein, who has been called “a classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order,” is the son of tabla great Ustad Alla Rakha, who was Ravi Shankar’s accompanist through the late 1960s.
Moment Records was founded by Hussain and Minnecola (who is Hussain’s wife) in 1991. Hussain, widely considered a prime architect of the contemporary world music movement, has received other GRAMMY nominations and shared in the 1991 GRAMMY award given to Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum album, on which Hussain both performed and co-produced.
The other nominees in the category are: Music Of Central Asia Vol. 2: Invisible Face Of The Beloved: Classical Music Of The Tajiks And Uzbeks by The Academy Of Maq m; Endless Vision by Hossein Alizadeh and Djivan Gasparyan; Hambo In The Snow by Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelley and Charlie Pilzer; and the Soweto Gospel Choir’s Blessed.
The 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 11, 2007.