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French sound engineer

Paul-Antoine Patin

By Azad Karimi

 I covered about twenty additional concert recordings during this internship, and when I left school, I stayed on the radio for two more years and became a colleague and friend of Mr. Wau Tier who had meant so much to me. Recording concerts for public service radio taught me in particular how to be efficient, because on the radio, we often have a maximum of two hours to deploy the equipment, make a soundcheck, and it has to sound right away, you've one chance. Regularly, the recorded concert is also live broadcast on the radio.

French sound engineer

Paul-Antoine Patin

By Azad Karimi

 

Date of Publish:16th July 2023

Dear friends! I haven't interviewed for months and I didn't have a reason to because my international cultural project that started three years ago in July 2023 has ended since the fall of the previous year.

I am not active on social media because there is no need for it. But while reviewing my past works and activities there was work to be done to organize and archive them for the youth and enthusiasts as well as for future generations. As I said, this story started from a simple curiosity and led to the creation of this great and unique project.

Fortunately, I did them and got rid of a lot of stress. But the project of my interview book fortunately passed the technical problems and I am looking forward to publishing it with a strong hope.

This interview you are reading is related to a sound engineer named Paul- Antoine from France. He has answered only 5 questions and I think his answers are valuable and useful and deserve to be published as a full interview.

During this project, I would like to mention successful showmen and performers such as Carol Burnett, Oprah, Graham Norton, and the great legend and Pop Goddess Cherilyn Sarkisian known as Cher, and pay tribute to them. In full humility... because they showed a high level of presentation of successful and popular programs on television. Live TV programs are very stressful. Fortunately, this opportunity came now, of course, I wanted to mention them in the introduction of the book, but seeing this interview allowed me to do so now.

Please pay attention to this interesting program presented by Mrs. Carol Burnett and Mrs.Cher on 05-11-1975.

 The history of this TV show is very interesting for me because at that time I was a baby of four months and three weeks and I was probably either constipated or had diarrhea or was screaming because of ear pain or had other pains that usually babies have these diseases and problems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CD9KzR0ITo...

 

A very interesting topic in old TV shows was sound engineering because the facilities were not as advanced as they are today. For example, in many shows and TeleTheaters, we see the microphone hanging from the top, and there were two reasons for this, either the camera was out of the frame or the hand of the sound assistant or the person holding the microphone was getting tired and the microphone has entered the frame.

This year I had the opportunity to see many performances and shows of dear Carol Burnett, dear Graham Norton, and dear Cher. Of course, I had seen many of Mrs. Oprah's programs years ago and it was very interesting to me.

In one of Cher's programs in those years, an interesting joint performance of her and Mrs. Tina Turner was recorded called Shame on You! and in that performance, you can see a very high level of performance, voice, and the art of singing on TV.

Please look at this song that I will leave you with the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN8ks3zNHqE...

 

Cher and Tina's partnership was a source of humor for Carol Burnett on the show, in which she played Cinderella, who ends up marrying a simple clerk instead of Elfin John(based on the legendary Elton John character).

Carol Burnett as the title player(Cinderella), Vicki Lawrence as her stepmother, The Pointer Sisters as the three-step sisters, Harvey Korman as her fairy godmother, and Tim Conway as “Elfin John”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYFprizVGh0

 

Dear friends, please note that I am talking about successful television performances, not the styles and genres of successful shows and programs.

This intro is the last intro I'll write, so I'll try to fit a lot into limited lines and sentences. I wrote about Mrs.Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who passed away in Switzerland a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the recent years were not good for her because she saw the death of her two beloved sons and she was dealing with cancer for many years.

I would also like to write about my beloved author Milan Kundera, who passed away a few days ago. He is originally from the Czech Republic, but he lived in France for many years and died there. He left his homeland almost fifty years ago for political reasons and immigrated to France. His writing style opened my eyes to real writing and gave me the courage to write seriously. His writing style inspires my writing style in my political and social notes and I am proud of it. At the end of this introduction, I would like you to hear a very beautiful song by Dionne Warwick, which I like very much. Of course, Miss Warwick is one of my favorite readers. I wish her good health and long life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHGDLW0UkiY

 

I should thank my good friend Mr. Paul-Antoine Patin, a sound engineer from the beautiful country, of France, who allowed me to write this introduction on the sidelines of his interview. I wish him and you, dear reader, success and happiness.

 

Thank you!

Østland- Norway

                                                           ***

Please present yourself (Name, education, Civil status, and...)

. I’m Paul-Antoine Patin, 28 years old, and I'm a sound engineer and an artistic director, passionate about early music and natural acoustics. I live in Pont d'Ain, near Lyon (Rhône-Alpes, France) with my partner Axelle, who's an architect. I was born and raised in Chartres, and I think that the presence - permanent in my childhood - of the incredible Gothic cathedral which remains there, participated both in forging me as I am (a Protestant who grew up in a very Catholic city), and at the same time to give birth to my passion for music, and music played in natural acoustics. (I forgot that I am self-employed)

?What is your specialization

. I have two professions: the first one (sound engineer) consists in bringing together several factors to sublimate the sound of the musicians in space, and then record it. the second one (artistic director of the recording) consists of managing all the intrinsic factors of a recording session so that the musicians do not have to worry about them and can fully focus on their work of restitution and interpretation.

 The spectrum of this second facet of my work is extremely vast. Indeed, as artistic director, I first worked on the repertoire before the recording based on written sources and already recorded versions. During the recording, I lead the rec session based on the score, looking for the coherence of all the musical elements that form the piece (tempo, musical intentions, timbres, the diction of the text, rhythmic placement, dynamic, ....).

 Here my job is to make sure that "everything is in the box" when I come back from the production session, because of the editing, for which I am also very often responsible. The daily work of wishing-to-record musicians is so long and tedious that it is sometimes difficult for them to reproduce the best of it on the day of recording. So I have to help them do it by trying to take responsibility for the whole session with a global point of view so that they can stay in their "present moment" all the time, and deliver their work in a "light spirit", the same they have when they work on their music.

?When and how did you become interested in this field of technical work

. As I said above, my passion for music and sound came early, around 9 or 10 years old. I did a few years at the conservatory (in Chartres) where I learned music theory, drums, saxophone, a bit of piano, jazz, orchestra... and I have always sung since as far as I can remember - and more willingly in choirs. But the wish to practice this profession became clearer later. It was after three years of studying architecture in Brussels (where I met Axelle) that I realized that primo, I did not want to become an architect anymore (too many architects in the family - sister, brother, girlfriend, that's enough) and secundo, the part I'd love to explore further about architecture was the way sound passed through it - in other words, rooms acoustics.

 I then joined a relatively reputable Belgian film school (l'Institut des Arts de Diffusion), which offers a complete sound-engineering course in three years. In this school, I met three teachers who fascinated me. I think it was meeting them and "drinking" their teachings that motivated me to learn this very specialized work.

? Who was your motivator

. As I said, three professors played a key role in my professional development during my studies. The first was Philippe Vandendriessche, my sound recording teacher.

 He is a man of many facets - an outstanding photographer, cook and oenologist, a bit of a philosopher... and who very quickly fascinated me with his way of talking to us about sound. In particular, the sound-recording history is completely necessary for understanding current equipment and techniques.

 One day, he lent me a machine as extraordinary as it's steeped in history so that I could go with it to do capture tests in a Protestant temple. This machine was a Nagra digital recorder equipped with 6 recording channels and four very high-quality mic pre-amplifiers. The day I tested this machine (eternal thanks to Philippe for lending it to me), I remember saying to myself: "I want to do this. Record reality, in real places, find the right distance, no cheats, go to the essentials and delight in my work of listening to this pure sound every day...". A few months later I was spending all my savings on this machine, and two pairs of microphones.

 It was taking a risk because I had no more money, I was inexperienced, and bet on the fact that this machine would later allow me to start working. (But if I had to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate for a second.) The second outstanding teacher was Christian Mertens, my sound physics teacher. He must not have taken me seriously because I rarely went to his classes...

 It was complicated to understand, it lasted 4 hours or sometimes the entire day, it was full of extended physics & maths formulas, and in addition, he had a shitty sense of humour, which made the thing very clumsy. But the "syllabus" of his course (the entire content of his course in 6 books, about 1500 pages to understand and learn in three years) is one of the most exciting things I have ever studied in my life. So ten days before the exams, I locked myself at home, I did not go out anymore, and I spent 100% of my time catching up on everything - all these missed classes - and oddly, it was not scary, but exciting. His exams were oral. He would randomly assign us a chapter of his course, and we had twenty minutes to bring out all the formalism. Formulas, orders of magnitude, tables, diagrams, circuits... I have - somewhat miraculously.

 - always passed his exams with success, and I use the content of his course every day in my work in different fields: physiological acoustics, sound insulation of buildings, room acoustics, micro phony, natural reverberation, etc. The third teacher who finished converting me to music recording is Emmanuel Wau tier, my teacher of classical music location recording, a course in which I specialized in the second year. In addition to the lessons, he made us each choose a few concerts a year that we had to record in situ. I loved that. I chose incredible concerts and left with my Nagra and my microphones, trying to set them at the best possible placement and bring back the best. Then Emmanuel listened to excerpts from our recordings in class and was very critical of that.

 When something was wrong with your sound recording, he told you right away. When thirteen things were wrong with your sound recording, he listed them in order of importance and pointed out all the misses point by point. He made me progress a lot, on the return of each recording. The same man worked at Musiq3 in Brussels (the classical music channel of RTBF) as a classical music sound engineer. He, therefore, practiced exactly in his work what fascinated me in his courses (like the two other professors mentioned), and helped me find a third-year internship as one of his sound engineer's fellows.

 I covered about twenty additional concert recordings during this internship, and when I left school, I stayed on the radio for two more years and became a colleague and friend of Mr. Wau Tier who had meant so much to me. Recording concerts for public service radio taught me in particular how to be efficient, because on the radio, we often have a maximum of two hours to deploy the equipment, make a soundcheck, and it has to sound right away, you've one chance. Regularly, the recorded concert is also live broadcast on the radio.

In parallel with the radio, one day I went to meet Manuel Mohini, a famous Belgian classical music soundman and artistic director, at his house. I asked him dozens of questions about his work, and after this meeting, he hired me as an assistant for two years, for heavy and complex recordings. He took me with him on recordings of sumptuous discs (at the service of Jordi Savall, Hervé Niquet, Philippe Jarrousski, great soloists, and a few other edifying projects), he entrusted me with the editing of some of these discs after teaching me how to edit, and he gave me some notions of artistic direction.

 I will always be grateful to him for that. And finally, after starting to work for a few years in Belgium, I moved almost three years ago to France in the Rhône-Alpes region and I met the fifth and last person who was very important at the beginning of my professional life: Jean-Daniel Noir, a Swiss sound engineer and artistic director (as famous as the previous one...) but this one became a friend and he taught me many more precious things. These five people taught me almost everything I know about sound, and I am convinced that their meetings have saved me years in the fine understanding of my profession (especially the last one, Jean-Daniel. He gave me all the best advice, which he took about twenty years to glean!)

 

 ?What was your parent’s reaction

. I am fortunate to have open-minded parents, who since we were very young, have always encouraged their three children to grow and flourish in what we liked and what made us happy. As for me, I was never very good or happy at school, but I showed an early and growing interest in music, so they let go of my school results a little bit, but always encouraged me to go as far as possible in what motivated me, regardless of the gap between these activities and the school sphere. My parents played an essential role in key moments in my life, and I owe everything to them. First, when I was nine, my parents enrolled me in a class with flexible schedules for music for the four years of middle school that followed.

This class, called CHAM Classes in France, allowed me to continue my general education while also pursuing my musical education in percussion, orchestra, choral singing, music reading and writing, analysis, and later, saxophone, jazz harmony applied to the piano, jazz workshops, and even big band…

These four years were blessed for me and I don't think I would have been very happy through middle school years without the music program. Later, after three years of studying architecture, my parents encouraged me to change course when I was doubting myself and feeling anxious. Architecture was one of my top interests, but the work rhythm was such (some weeks I barely slept more than 20 hours), that hearing my parents say, "You're so young, if you don't feel it, change course!

These three years won't have been wasted!" was a huge relief for me. I felt encouraged to finally, albeit late, go towards what I had always lived for music. Despite the uncertainty this represented and the fact that I had previously chosen to keep music as a hobby and not make it my profession, I followed my first passion. Probably no hazard there, I think. Finally, my parents were incredibly understanding when they saw me spend a lot of money on very high-quality recording equipment, even though I had only been studying acoustics for a year. The "normal" reaction might have been, "You're crazy to spend all your savings on equipment when you don't even know if it’ll be useful to you!" Instead, they said something like, "You seem to know what you're doing and where you're going; good luck and good journey!" With their encouragement, I started recording prolifically, constantly seeking out quality concerts and rehearsals to capture and improve my skills. My parents' total consideration for my project allowed me to improve quickly and I am grateful for their moral support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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