Following the splendid question Has Vengerov's performance of the Sibelius violin concerto (1904 version) ever been recorded? I was listening to the Ilja Gringolts recording that Aaron links in his answer.

At around minute 36-37 the violinist starts one of his solos and there are various moments where his breathing is very loud (minute 39:01 for example). From what I read in Music SE's Why do string players tend to breathe heavily in performance?, this is rather common. I have also encountered in jazz recordings, where some performer may be doing a duda duu to accompany the melody.

I guess the breath is not audible to the audience in the theatre, but it really is for listeners of the audio. Some may even find it as something that diminishes the quality of the recording.

For this, is there any postprocessing in classical and jazz music performances to delete the breathing sound of the performers?

  • For extra fun, try recordings of wind players! Also, in addition there's always the clacking, clicking, and thwaping of instrument keys and pads, etc.
    – jrw32982
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 18:57

2 Answers 2


At a live performance there will always be sources of noise that will distract from the music. There are different ways of dealing with this:

  • Purists will just set up a stereo mic pair. Everything it picks up ends up on the recording.
  • At the other end of the scale, a producer will close mic every single instrument and record all the rehearsals and several concerts. They will then process every single track, and cut and paste sections of music from each recording. There are techniques for considerably reducing, if not totally removing, extraneous noise.
  • Most recordings fall somewhere between those two extremes. The producer might try to remove noises that seriously detract from the music, but they'll leave anything that doesn't.

For the example from your question, it looks like a TV recording. TV recording engineers often don't go the same lengths as engineers for pure audio recordings.

  • Excellent! I believe it is harder on a live video recoding, since they cannot do all those cut and paste
    – fedorqui
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 5:37
  • 1
    @fedorqui they can't do that for a live broadcast, but for a concert recording they can have dozens of microphones and do quite a bit of work in the mixing room before arriving at a final product. (On a related note, this is why I generally dislike remasterings of classic recordings. Modern engineers seem to want to show off what they've learned in the last intervening 20 or 50 years, but for my money the authentic sound engineering is an integral part of the artistic product. I'm thinking of Sgt. Pepper and We're Only in it for the Money.)
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 20:22


It depends mostly on what the producer is trying to do and the style of music. The general goal of recording an instrument is to get the sound of that instrument and as little else as possible. If you’re producing pop music you usually try to isolate that instrument as much as possible. The use of close-miking is usually preferred. And to further isolate it from outside noise one might use a gate to mute the sound when the instrument is not playing. This will give you a cleaner, tighter sound.

If you’re producing classical music you’re generally not going to be using gates, and certainly not on the soloist. With an instrument like a violin the source of the sound of the instrument is inches from the player’s face. It would be difficult to get rid of the sound of breathing if you wanted to. The player themselves will often limit the sound of their breathing by moving away from the mic while not playing.

Classical pianist Glenn Gould is known for quietly humming along with his playing, which can be heard on recordings during quiet passages. Some listeners find it distracting. Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett is known for his vocal inflections while playing. His fans would not want a producer to remove these.

Generally listeners of acoustic styles like classical and older jazz want to hear things as-is so you wouldn’t go out of your way to remove “imperfections” like breathing. Newer jazz music is produced much more like pop music, so a producer might choose to gate out breathing sounds.

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