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Interview with trumpeter Chihiro Murata


Chihiro Murata, an active trumpeter, uses the TASCAM TRACKPACK 2x2 and the DR-22WL handheld recorder. She started using TASCAM TRACKPACK 2x2 while in pre-production for her new album. We asked her how she used it.

A warm recorded sound in the low frequency ranges

TEAC: Thank you for your time today. First, I heard that you used the TASCAM TRACKPACK 2x2 in pre-production. What did you think of it ?

Murata: Actually, before starting pre-production, I had to go to Florence, Italy for an event. I tried putting the TASCAM TRACKPACK 2x2 in a cooler that I bought at a hardware store, and it fit perfectly! So, I took it to Italy in that cooler.

TEAC: Does that mean that the music for this album was recorded in Italy?

Murata: Yes. I used Garage Band on my Mac and recorded at the hotel. In combination with the dry air in Italy, the recording went very well well using the mic that I brought with me.
TEAC: Was the hotel OK with that?

Murata: They were fine! They were, as expected, lenient about music. The hotel that I stayed in was filled with attendees for the same event as I was, so the other rooms were like that, too. Like, "Hey, that guy's practicing!"

TEAC: It's very interesting that the sound was so good when it was recorded in Italy. Which mic did you use to record it?

Murata: This one, the one that came with the TASCAM TRACKPACK. It has a stand, so I could put it on the desk at the hotel. It turned out to be the perfect height.

TEAC: The TM-80 is included in the set. Were the headphones also the ones from the set… the TH-02?

Murata: Yes! The set was just perfect.

TEAC: I'm glad to hear that. So, you were making the music and recording it at a desk in a hotel in Italy?
Murata: Yes. Oh - and I used it for practicing, too. I would put the song on Garage Band and play along with it, recording with this mic (TM-80). I could clearly see when my timing or pitch was off. I would focus on listening with the headphones on, play to match the pitch of the sax in the song, record it, and listen. This album had songs where I played with a tenor (tenor sax), so I practiced matching. It was really good practice!

TEAC: Had you been using Garage Band and an audio interface?

Murata: I had been using Garage Band a bit. I hadn't been using an audio interface - just the microphone built into my computer.

TEAC: Were you able to figure out the US-2x2 right away?
Murata: Yes, right away! I connected it to the computer and selected the input in Garage Band, and that was about it. I didn't need the manual. I just pushed things without thinking and the sound worked. I just pushed things to where I though they should be, and it worked! I'm not that good with machines, but I had no problem.

TEAC: How was the sound?

Murata: Trumpet often ends up sounding like it has no depth, or like it's compressed. But neither happened. Subtle sounds were recorded beautifully. The low frequency ranges were definitely there for a warm recorded sound.

TEAC: It was at a desk in a hotel, right? How did you set it up?

Murata: I don't know too much about recording, so I'm not sure. But I thought maybe the sound would bounce back a lot if I faced the wall or the mirror, so I placed it at the corner of the desk - also because it feels better to play toward open space. It has to feel good to produce a good sound.

TEAC: Wow! Thinking about the echo is at a pretty high level of recording technique. That's the correct setup for a mic. I'm happy that you were satisfied with the recorded sound.

Murata: Actually, trumpet can often sound like it has no depth - even when it's recorded in a studio. That's not just with me, but with other people, too. It's so different from the live sound. Maybe it would be OK as a brass section, but it doesn't work for solos. I have heard clips from the U.S., for example, and the trumpet solos sound so warm on many of them. I had been wondering why it's different. But this recording was so close to what I was imagining. I was so surprised! Mics and interfaces are so important, after all!

An audio interface is something I need!

TEAC: What is your process when creating a musical piece for a trumpet solo?

Murata: Basically, when I think of a short phrase - like a theme - I record it. Then, I listen to it when I have time, think about it, and add to it. When I'm recording ideas, I also use this recorder (DR-22WL). Sometimes I start with the chords, but usually the melody comes first.

TEAC: Do you take the recording from the DR-22WL and put it on to your computer to work on the piece?

Murata: I don't move the ideas onto the computer - only recordings from concerts. The idea recordings aren't anything I could let anyone hear. I'm too embarrassed to even move it onto my computer! I just memorize the phrase and re-record it using US-2x2 and Garage Band.
TEAC: I'm glad to hear the DR-22WL is working well for your concerts and for creating music. By the way, what kind of trumpet are you using?

Murata: My main trumpet is from a manufacturer called XO, a special lightweight model. I do work-out, but it can get tiring holding it in a long performance. Men and women are separated in sports, but in music, they're not. So I said "no fair!" and got them to make it lighter.

TEAC: How do they make it lighter? Thinner?

Murata: Yes, they make it thinner. The sound changes too – it sounds brighter.

TEAC: How many trumpets do you have?

Murata: I have three. I also have a flugelhorn. But when there's an instrument that I want, I get rid of one that I'm not too into. So, I think my collection is on the small side. Oh, but after self-recording this time, I feel that an audio interface is something I need.

TEAC: What are your reasons?

Murata: Since I don't record many times a year, I had thought that I could just borrow recording equipment. But, this time I realized that recording contributes to my daily practice, so I think it's definitely worth having! It works as practice for recording, and also for rhythm. It's too easy to get used to bad sound. It's better to preempt that by remembering the good sound that you recorded.

TEAC: You can also listen to it objectively.

Murata: Yes. I definitely recommend buying one!

TEAC: Thank you for your nice comments and your insights today.


Chihiro Murata
Trumpeter. Born in Tokyo, November 1986. Learned the piano at an early age. Joined the school band in junior high school and started playing the trumpet. Entered Waseda University and was active in a music "circle." After graduation, she started her music career - studying trumpet under Masahiro Makihara. She studied jazz theory under Mr. Hidefumi Toki. Ms. Murata currently performs at live music clubs in Tokyo as a trio and in jam sessions.

Official Website: http://genplanning.co.jp/