New York-based cellist Dane Johansen is embarking on The Walk to Fisterra, a 600-mile musical/walking journey along the Camino de Santiago, a popular pilgrimage route through France and Spain.
Over the course of his six-week journey, which began in mid-May, Johansen will stop at several of the 36 historic churches along the ancient Roman footpath, where he will perform Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, while a team of filmmakers and music producers capture content for a stunning documentary about the pilgrimage.
For the audio portion of the project, sound engineer Kyle Pyke and Grammy-Award-winner Jesse Lewis, who is the music producer and co-sound engineer on the project, are using several models from DPA Microphones.
Included in the mic locker are d:dicate 4007A omnidirectional mics for location recording and a combination of d:dicate 4011F cardioid podium and d:vote 4099 Instrument mics for close-pickup of the cello. A variety of d:mension 5100 mobile surround and d:dicate 4017B shotgun mics are being used to capture ambience along the trail, while d:screet 4061 miniature mics pick up dialogue.
“DPA was our top choice for microphones to record the audio for this journey,” says Pyke. “When we were spec’ing out what we might need for the project, we enlisted DPA Microphones to be our exclusive mic partner. The reason is pretty simple, not only does the company’s catalog offer everything we could hope for, and more, in terms of microphone quality and detail, but DPA itself embodies an open, adventurous approach to pushing the industry forward, which is an intrinsic quality of The Walk to Fisterra.”
“DPA’s entire line of microphones is world class and the first I turn to for literally any situation,” adds Lewis. “Whether they are used for dialog, mobile-surround ambience or a solo cello, there isn’t another product line out there that can do everything that DPA’s mics can do. The accessories give us configurability, the vast microphone line gives us a freeing flexibility – which is something we especially need on this journey – and the capture of speech, ambience and music is lifelike and pristine.
“For a project like this, we need voices to be clear and the music has to be stunning, and that’s just what we get with DPA. Since DPA spares no expense in development and production, no matter the microphone or application, their mics are really a perfect fit for The Walk to Fisterra.”
As Johansen performs at churches along the route to Fisterra, his team will produce recordings and sound maps of each location, which Lewis can then use back in the studio to recreate the audio during film screenings or as background for Johansen’s live performances.
“When we are on the road in often less-than-ideal acoustic environments, it’s important to make sure that nothing is lost due to noise or lack of detail,” continues Pyke. “We’re very happy with our selection of DPA mics, which ensure we keep the natural sound of the instrument intact during the recording process.”
To prepare for any unique audio challenges that they may encounter at the older venues, Pyke will rely on the cardioid pattern of the DPA d:dicate 4011F and d:vote 4099 mics, to capture sound directly off the instrument. The 4011F, desinged for high sound levels and close pickup, will highlight the sound around the cello, while the d:vote 4099, much more natural sounding than any internal microphone or pickup, will be mounted directly on the cello to accurately record the instrument while removing any unwanted noise.
Pyke also plans to use DPA d:dicate 4007A omni mics to capture in surround sound the reverberations produced by the instruments in the churches, which have an antique architecture that offers unique acoustics. The setup uses a decca tree in front, with two mics spaced at a variable distance and width, to give a sense of depth between venues.
“The 4007A’s flat response across the frequency spectrum is the perfect tool for capturing the true sound of the hall in both musical recording and impulse responses,” explainsPyke. “The 4011F offers a colorless pickup yet still retains its musicality, while the 4099 is conveniently small and unobtrusive without losing any detail. Additionally, the 5100, which we use to capture ambience in the venues, offers incredible audio quality in a rugged, easily mounted microphone design.”
In order to ensure the recordings offer listeners a true sense of the experience, Pyke must also capture dialogue and the ambience of journey along the Camino. A combination of a d:mension 5100 surround, 4017B shotgun and several d:screet 4061 miniature mics will be used. The d:mension 5100 comes packaged for recording surround on the road, as it can be mounted to a camera or boom, while the 4017B shotgun provides everything necessary for clear directional sound regardless of environmental conditions. The d:screet 4061s, though tiny, produce an accurate omnidirectional pattern without need to be aimed directly at the sound source.
Johansen performs throughout the world as a soloist and chamber musician, and is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He made his Lincoln Center Debut performing Elliott Carter’s Cello Concerto with James Levine in celebration of the composer’s centennial and his Carnegie Hall debut in 2012, performing a program of his own design entitled Lightness, which explored philosophical lightness in music of the 20th century.
El Camino de Santiago, an ancient route to Santiago de Compostela and Fisterra on the western edge of Europe, was originally a Pagan footpath that was later appropriated by the Romans as part of their campaign to Christianize Spain. Still journeyed by those seeking to challenge their bodies and minds, the path features roads, monasteries and cathedrals along the route to provide pilgrims with areas of rest.