The Art of Music Foundation was established in 2009 and it’s mission is to promote the performance and appreciation of art and music in Kenya and to use it’s transformative power to change lives, particularly of those living in underprivileged areas of the country. The foundation exists to use music to make a difference in the lives of young Kenyans. We believe art and music, with its traditions of structure, discipline and excellence, can offer a great awakening and opportunity to a broad spectrum of Kenyan youth.
The foundation focuses on three programmes. First is the Ghetto Classics programme based in an informal settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi, Korogocho. The second is a musical and leadership training programme, The National Youth Orchestra of Kenya, a music ensemble that brings together talented young musicians from all walks of life in the country. The foundation is also a key stakeholder in the art and music scene in Kenya and is often involved in hosting, funding and organising numerous musical events and trainings throughout the year. And third is the Safaricom Youth Orchestra.
Midi Minds Kenya got together with Ghetto Classics to record and produce theirs and our first orchestral album. Featuring 36 young musicians, an auditorium and a mixing desk, starting at the GoDown Arts Centre Auditorium.
The other recordings took place at Ketebul Studios located at The GoDown Arts Centre on Enterprise Road, Industrial Area. The GoDown Arts Centre is home to Kenyan creativity in arts & media. Established in 2003, in a space that was formerly a car repair warehouse, the centre has contributed significantly to the growth, recognition and visibility of local artists.
The cover album aims to bring Ghetto Classics Orchestra and its talents to the public eye. This will be the first recording they have done as an Orchestra and also a first with the publication of physical CDs. The recordings were programmed by Midi Minds Kenya sound engineers, Suraj Mandavia and Dylan Sejpal.
The initial tracking of the album was spread over five days at Ketebul Studios and Sarakasi Auditorium at The GoDown Arts Centre. The Sarakasi Auditorium made it possible to record the orchestra together as opposed to multi tracking all recordings in a studio setup. Recording them together helped with capturing the essence of the orchestra as well as to capture specific harmonics that can not be produced if multi-tracked, created by spacial reverb.
Ketebul Studios provided the project with a variety of needed equipment. The Mackie Onyx 1640i was the main mixing console and A/D convertor, and Logic Pro 9 was the chosen software. Using a diverse selection of microphones, we were able to capture sections of the orchestra using a multitude of recording techniques
We used the Shure Beta 52 mic for the Kick Drum and its closed microphone technique helped bring out the transient of the instrument and helped pierce through the mix. The Rode NTG1 shotgun condenser characteristics helped record the violin section while still allowing us to isolate the horn section behind it. The dynamic Shure SM58 was used for the snares & djembe and we also used the SM58 on the lower horn sections e.g. tuba and trombone. The AKG C414’s sensitivity towards higher frequencies favoured in recording the clarinets and flutes.
Overall the microphones we chose worked well for what we were trying to achieve. For projects like this we strongly believe the pre production processes (recording) are far more important than post production stages (mixing and mastering), in which we mainly dwelled on stereo imaging and light compression on softer parts.
(Saxophone players below the AKG C414 Multipattern Condenser Microphone in a Cardiod Patttern)