Erhu The Dragon

Well the Erhu recording went to plan and was the most fun I’ve had in ages! Today, Alexander Nasteski and I recorded amazingly talented Nicholas Ng playing the Erhu in the Audient studio of SAE-QANTM Brisbane, to use in the upcoming game, Dyadic.

I have three songs that I have written for Dyadic and in this blog I will give you a quick insight to how the first song has come together. It started with the track ‘Sow The Fields’, originally written for the Red Panda Game, and featured the Milo-Tinsrument and Banjo-Mandolin. For an in-depth look at how Sow The Fields was made click this link.

Using ‘Sow The Fields’ as a base, I then added percussion, fula-flute and synths to fill it out and that’s when I had the idea to try to find some traditional Chinese instrumentalists to really put the icing on the cake (Dyadic has a Chinese theme after all). By using good ol’ Google, I was soon in touch with Nicholas Ng who was kind enough to come to the studio and record the parts I had written for him.

Convert the MIDI to Score

To write the parts for Nicholas, I took the MIDI sequence of the melody and entered the score editor in Pro Tools. The score was way too confusing because the MIDI wasn’t quantised, so I had to copy the MIDI onto another track so I could really quantise the heck out of it. Once the MIDI was quantised, I entered the score editor again and it looked nice and pretty!

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 11.01.59 PM

Nicholas played the score brilliantly and I have to admit that I felt awesome when I heard my melody starting to play! Here is an example of the above melody and demonstration of the recording process.

Here is the session plan for the recording process.

Nicholas Ng – Erhu Recording for Dyadic 19/05/2015

Studio: Audient, SAE QANTM Brisbane

Time: 11 am – 3pm

Participants: Samuel McLean (Producer), Alexander Nasteski (engineer), Nicholas Ng (Talent)

Objective: Record Samuel McLean’s pre-written melodies, played by Nicholas Ng, performing on the Erhu for the game Dyadic.


Sam: 0404 618 #$#

Alex: 111#$ (need phone number)

Nick: 0411 318 #$#


Mics: 1 x AKG C414 omni, at a distance in front of musican

1 x Royer R121 behind the resonator (musicians left side)

Misc: 2 x XLR

2 x Mic stand

2 x Headphone

1 x Music Stand

10 x Patch leads


192kHz @ 24 Bit


11am: Bump in, Sam and Alex to set up Mics, get signal and create headphone mix.

11:30am: Nicholas arrives, warm up, practice parts and Sam and Alex to check signal/best placements for mics

12pm: Record Phase One – The Race

12:45pm: Record Phase Two – The Puzzles

1:30pm: Record Phase Three – The Desire

2:15pm: Sample Erhu and Improvisations/phrases

2:45pm: Packdown

Track Specifics

The Race

Tempo: 160bpm

Meter: 3/4

Erhu Enters: bar 68 and bar 153

The Puzzles

Tempo: 70bpm

Meter: 2/4

Erhu Enters: bar 25

The Desire

Tempo: 80bpm

Meter: 3/4 then 2/4 at bar 65

Erhu Enters: bar 5

As you can hear, the Erhu gives the track a whole new element of realism and gives the MIDI instruments more credibility.


With the recording process complete, I went home and started to edit the melody and do another mix of the track.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 10.19.20 PM

I decided to use parallel compression and reverb on the Erhu to try to keep the sound authentic but give it a bit more depth.

Mix It!
Mix It!

And now the full track!

I have two more tracks for Dyadic that have Erhu in them so stay tuned for updates!


  1. Erhu is awesome. The sound in the high register sounds like an expressive voice. Is the intense vibrato sound created with hand vibrato or through the bow?
    The banjo mandolin and milo tin create a solid texture with the expressive voice of the erhu providing an interesting depth.
    Great track!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks reubpress! The sound is very similar to the voice. The intense vibrato is through the hand, what they call a rolling vibrato. Here is a link to a how-to video

    The Erhu’s strings float and I think the rolling vibrato technique is given a little extra oomph because when the player rolls the finger the string is pressed a little further down, resulting in the pitch being raised.
    Super expressive and is just a joy to watch and listen to and Nicholas was a true pro when it came to recording. Thanks for commenting!


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