OPUS 3

Det svenske plademærke OPUS 3 er kvalitet med god musik udvalgt af Per Erik

 

About Opus3

Opus3 is an independent Swedish record company dedicated to recording timeless acoustic music such as jazz, blues, folk and classical music. Our aim is to reproduce voices and instruments as naturally and accurately as possible. To attain this we chose recording environments with good natural ambience. The positioning of the musicians is planned to give the best possible musical communication between them and 
the most favorable interplay between them and the environment. 

   We avoid all forms of artifice and electronic manipulation that could change the natural sound. We try to give you the chance to recreate the feeling and atmosphere that we felt at 
the moment of recording. To discover how this is achieved, 
go to Opus 3's Philosophy of Sound Recording.

This is for all who are interested in audiophile recordings 
or fine recordings of interesting music.

 

Unique selection of Music

This Opus 3 catalogue contains a highly personnel selection of music. We seek out and record music and musicians with, in our view, unique qualities. All the music is acoustic and performed "unplugged" and includes both jazz, classical and folk music, while the performers range from internationally acclaimed instrumentalists to youngsters with a promising carreer ahead of them. For example: 

    The Stockholm Guitar Quartet is the only guitar quartet in the world to play on four differently tuned instruments. The quartet was formed in 1975 and its first recording, under the Opus 3 label, appeared in 1978. In this way the quartet spanned almost 6 full octaves, in contrast with the 3 -of the conventional 6 -stringed guitar. This unique combination of forces brought within range the kind  of chamber and orchestral music which, under normal conditions, is beyond the scope of the ordinary guitar. The Stockholm Guitar Quartet has aroused considerable attention far outside the guitar community as well, through this genuine and unique expansion of the guitar repertoir. 

Omnibus Wind Ensemble is a unique group because 
of its very wide repertoire and virtuoso playing, but also because of its deep interest in the very controversial composer Frank Zappa. Twelve men strong, and with the rather unusual combination of bassoons and double bass deep down, with a very colourful collection of individual musicians, many of them playing several instruments, this group has really created a style and sound of its own. In the third CD under the Opus 3 label "Music By Frank Zappaî" we are given a feast of acoustic instruments, in which ? as is only to be expected in Zappa's music ? a prominent role is given to a large number of percussion instruments. 

     In the recordings of Mozart´s Clarinet Concerto and Clarinet Quintet, the solo part is taken, most unusually, by a basset clarinet -an instrument whose range exstands four semitones below that of the ordinary clarinet. It is not commonly known that Mozart actually wrote his Concerto and Quintet for this very instrument -played here by bassette clarinet specialist Kjell Fagéus. 
      In five recordings we also meet one of the worlds most out-standing swing vibes player, Lars Erstrand, who in 1981 was ranked number 3 by the English Jazz Journal International -hard on the heels of his "mentors" Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson! 

    Sweden has also several top flight musicians in classical jazz! Tomas Örnberg´s BLUE FIVE, or the Swedish Jazz Kings as they sometimes label themselves, which today preserves the twenties and the thirties music of Louis Armstrong, features in three recordings under the Opus 3 label. American clarinettist Kenny Davern, of Soprano Summit and other fame and Bob Barnard on trumpet from Australia is joined by one 
of the world´s best Armstrong interpreters: Bent Persson. Their second recording (CD 8003) received the 1982 Swedish grammophone Prize and was also ranked by Jazz Journal International as the very best new jazz recording of that year.

 

Opus3 Philosophy

Discussions of sound nowadays tend to be very much preoccupied with the digital links of the sound reproduction chain, especially where gramophone recordings are concerned. Attention very often focuses exclusively on the type 
of A/D converter used, how many bits, the amount of oversampling, how the equipment is specially modified, and so on and so forth. 

When Opus 3 started at the end of 1976, there was far more talk about the way in which the actual recording was done purely in terms of recording technique or philosophy - that is, the methodology employed (multi- mike versus twin microphone technique etc.) and the type of recording situation chosen - natural environments or traditional studio technique, and so on. 

 Whatever the technical apparatus, it is still the actual, recording philosophy that does most to decide what a recording will sound like - a fact which has been virtually lost sight of in the discussion of sound today. The quantity of electronics used in a recording is also highly important. In the type of mixer consoles commonly used in a studio nowadays, the acoustic signal passes through a very large number of amplifier stages - between thirty and forty or more is not unusual! The Opus 3 electronics, which are mainly tube-equipped and which we have partly developed ourselves, seldom include more than three of four amplifier stages between microphone and storage medium.

Opus 3's recording technique has been specially developed for acoustic music and is based on using the natural acoustics of authentic environments such as churches, concert halls, jazz clubs and so on. We match the venue to the music, so to speak, as opposed to the common studio practice of adding an artificial reverberation afterwards and so on. The positioning of the microphone in the recording room and the positioning of the musicians in relation to the microphone are also extremely important.

From the very outset we have used what is known as the coincident or X/Y recording technique, mainly employing the special configuration of crossed figure of eights, also known as the Blumlein technique, after Alan Dower Blumlein, the British radar engineer who developed the technique way back in 1934. 

Depth of Image

So accustomed are we to three-dimensional vision, that we never really think about it. But we need only shut one eye for our judgment of distances to be reduced and our three-dimensional vision to disappear: we need both eyes and the relation between them in order for see three-dimensionally. Much the same is true of our hearing.

Our brain and auditory system "process" the sound-waves reaching each ear, with regard to level, direction, time and frequency content. The signal is further "analyzed" by our brain and auditory system, and the differences between signals coming from our two ears tell us, for example, about distance to the different sound sources and their relative positions. We experience "Depth of Image": for example, the different instruments of the orchestra in a concert hall are differently placed, not only from left to right but also in depth, together with the size and acoustics of the concert hall. 
           

By "collecting" the total sound at one single point with a stereo microphone -that is, a microphone with its capsules as close together as possible -we obtain a strict relation between the direct sound and the reflected sound (the diffused sound field), and this gives our brain and auditory system important information for building up an illusion of "reality" - the concert hall, the church or the jazz club. It is also very important for the direct and the reflected sound to have an exact acoustic connection with the sound-waves from each instrument. In traditional recording studios, there is, basically, one microphone (or sometimes even more) per instrument, and these are then mixed together electrically. This is not real stereo, it is just panned mono. 

Since, moreover, the microphones are usually placed veryclose to each instrument in an acoustically dead studio, all one gets is the direct sound of the instrument, and so artificial reverberation has to be "added on" electrically afterwards.

Timbre

By timbre we mean the specific character of an acoustic musical instrument - meaning, for example, what makes it possible for us to tell one instrument from another. The timbre of a musical instrument is a combination of its significant spectral distribution, i.e. the relation between notes and their harmonics and each relative level and frequency distribution, and last but not least, the way in which the sound-waves radiate from the body of the instrument. 

All our acoustic instruments are designed to be played in some form of concert hall, i.e. in a place where you hear both the direct sound of the instrument and the reverberation of the environment. If, like Opus 3, you are aiming for as natural an instrumental timbre as possible, it is vitally important that acoustic instruments can also be recorded in the type of surroundings they were originally designed to be played in, but also with longer microphone distances, so as also to capture the sound radiating from the whole sounding body of the instrument. The short microphone distances normally used also make the timbre unnatural, and so it has to be "restored" artificially, using various equalizers etc. We mustn't forget that when our acoustic musical instruments were created, a long time ago, neither electricity, microphones or recording studios existed !

Dynamics

The dynamic range of a musical instrument is the difference between the loudest and the softest sound level it is capable of producing. Like timbre, the dynamics of a musical instrument depend, not only on how it is built but also on how it is used by the composer and performer. Dynamics in this sense are used to create a large number and variety of musical effects, changes of emotion, mood and expression etc., etc. The dynamic properties of a musical instrument are also very much affected by the way in which it is recorded. The short microphone distances used for multi-microphone recording in traditional studios also exaggerate the recorded dynamics. Just like timbre, the dynamic balance then has to be artificially "restored", using compressors, limiters and so on. 

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