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@anime! Special!

For all those who were unable to hear the Kanno Yoko pieces during the Opening Ceremonies, here, for your enjoyment are the 4 songs that she played in MP3 format, ready for your downloading pleasure!

Click on the song titles to download the MP3 files. If a normal click doesn't work, hold down the option key while you click. That should work.

1. Opening theme from Vision of Escaflowne
2. Voices from Macross Plus
3. Opening theme from Record of Lodoss War TV
4. An improvisational jazz piece (encore)


Notes on the Kanno Recital Recordings from Otakon 1999

Running around Baltimore because you forgot to pack the microphone case into the DAT's "Playstation" bag was entertaining to say the least. I had to buy one omnidirectional mic in South Baltimore then hike all the way in the other direction to North Baltimore for the other. I kept repeating to myself, "this isn't sone trivial recording session; it is Kanno Yoko--and indeed it was worth buying an extra set of microphones just to capture these four pieces played live by Ms. Kanno herself.

Had I known the configuration of the event hall prior to entering for the opening ceremonies, I would have done two things differently. One, I would have bought directional cardioid mics instead of omnis (even though I had a set of each sitting at home in the portable MD player's "Playstation" bag ^^;;), but in unknown situations like this omnis tend to be the safe bet. Two, I would not have seated myself next to some twit who insisted on crinkling a plastic bag at random intervals throughout the performance. I almost killed him.

The recordings were made with a Sony D-7 portable DAT and 70Hz-18Khz electret condenser microphones, with the condenser charge supplied by DC power from the DAT unit's mic jacks. I tried to position myself as near the center of the soundstage as possible. The PA system was WAY overblown, but at least it was relatively tame for the recital. I decided not to post-equalize the audio files in the editor; I let everyone hear it the same way we did in the concert hall. The hall itself is poured concrete--a rather nasty acoustic surface--but it did have non-parallel walls and the ceiling had absorption cells, which helped equalize the midrange a bit. But not totally: it is noticeable on the recordings, along with the inevitable reverb components.

As prepared as I was for the recital, the DAT unit managed to unload the tape from its drum when I was not looking (to minimize wear on the tape heads when in standby mode--it is much like a VCR in its operation), and thus I missed the first 5 seconds of the Escaflowne piano piece, Yakusoku wa Iranai. The video camera's digital audio track captured it all, however, and I plan to "repair" the DAT audio file using data from the camcorder at some date in the near future. The Esca track presented in this issue of @anime! has about 10 seconds cropped from the beginning of the recording to allow the piece to be presented in a suitable manner.

Voices, from Macross Plus, recorded rather well, but being a soft piece it let the omni microphones do what they do best--pick up *everything* in the sound field. People insisted on talking, shifting about, and so on, but Kanno's artistry is so perfect that these extraneous sounds did little to diminish the interlude.

The clarinet player/Otakon staff member Owen Henderson is one brave fellow. It is one thing to play in front of two thousand people, but quite a different thing entirely to play in front of two thousand people while backing Yoko Kanno. He did a *great* job under this kind of pressure. Really. This is the kind of pressure that makes PGA golfers lose the Masters. The song is, of course, Adesso et Fortuna, the Lodoss TV series opening theme.

Kanno offered to play a 4th "encore" piece, which turned out to be what is arguably the best piece of the set. It is an improvisational jazz invention, meaning that it was realized on the spot as she played it. No prior recordings or written charts existed of this music until now. If one wanted an ideal window into exactly how Ms. Kanno creates, this was it. The audience was amazingly quiet for this recording. Thanks, folks.

As a final note, the "mixdown" occured as a dump of the DAT files onto a computer system's hard disk in .WAV format using a digital audio I/O card and optical "toslink" s/pdif cables. From there, an audio file editor was used to crop out "dead time" and do some fade-in and fade-out around each piece. In some cases, a -3dB attenuator was used to moderate the applause. The DAT unit will automatically attenuate sound levels above +6dB VU, but there exists a "slew time" where the signal approaches the fold-back point. The resultant .WAV files were then compressed into .MP3 files and placed on the internet. Aside from the minimal editing, what is heard in the .MP3 files is what was heard in the event hall. Enjoy.

--Scott Rider





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