I have always played with sound recording, from when I had an ancient (and extremely heavy) reel-to-reel tape recorder as a teenager, which I used to record things like the Apollo Moon landings and Concorde’s first flight, from the TV. Later I had a neater Philips reel-to-reel machine; I think its biggest use was the creation and playing of “party tapes” – long compilations that could be left running for hours at a very slow tape speed at parties in the 1970s!

More recently, when I started going to fiddle classes and workshops, I bought a Zoom H1 portable recorder, which will record .wav or .mp3 to a memory card.

Zoom H1 recorder

It’s a great little device that produces excellent quality recordings; the only problem is that it has some design or component fault that means that it slowly discharges the AA battery even when it is switched off. It means that the date and time has to be reset if it has been turned off for any length of time with the battery out. I have had it in bits but can’t be sure where the problem is (it is allegedly a faulty capacitor). It can be powered by the usb cable instead of the battery, which is fine for home use.

I used this to make a test recording for Christmas 2017, using the lovely Swedish tune “Julottan” written by Mats Wallman. It’s played on nyckelharpa, fiddle, and lever harp (clarsach).

It was recorded one instrument at a time (actually in four takes, as I did the harp melody and chords separately) in a fairly primitive way; I copied the nyckelharpa line from the Zoom to an old laptop, which I then used to play it  back (in Audacity) into my headphones whilst I recorded the next instrument on the Zoom. The four tracks were then synchronised by tweaking their time positions in the Openshot video editor, where I also added the still photos. The synchronisation isn’t perfect, but the results have encouraged me to start getting a better setup for recording so I can do more multi instrument stuff.