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Miking the Black Panther Theme

Miking the complex percussion behind the worldwide hit’s theme was simple.

New York, NY (February 21, 2018)—Debuting in theaters last week just in time for the long weekend, Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ had a record-breaking weekend, raking in $242 million domestically for the biggest February opening ever, and a staggering $404 million worldwide. As millions of moviegoers grab some popcorn and watch the superhero flick, they’re hearing composer Ludwig Göransson’s complex score, which was recorded and mixed by Chris Fogel.

Blending material recorded across three continents, the score has a number of distinct leitmotifs, notably the percussion theme for Chadwick Boseman’s title character, used to underline his character’s transformation into the Black Panther.

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To maintain that sense of impact, Fogel repeatedly used a sE Electronics T2 titanium-diaphragm condenser microphone during the recording process, particularly to capture the sabar, a loud, traditional Senegalese drum played with one hand and one stick, and a talking drum, a drum from West Africa with drumheads at opposite ends, connected by leather cords; squeezing the cords while playing allows the performer to modulate pitch and mimic the sound of speech, hence its name.

“One of the challenges of recording talking drums and sabar is to get the percussive impact, but still have the tone,” said Fogel. “The talking drum you hear in the movie is very sharp, very pointed—and the sabar sessions were some of the loudest sounds I’ve ever heard – but you can still hear the voice of the drums. All of this really loud ensemble percussion was done with the T2.”

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Fogel has three sE T2s, and has used them on many drum and percussion sessions for numerous films, including ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Central Intelligence’. “The T2s give me both things that I need—high SPL handling, but they still maintain the tone. I use them on toms almost exclusively for that very reason.

“Distance to the instrument, associated gear and processing can make a lot of difference as well, but if it’s not right at the microphone, it’s not going to be right anywhere else. The T2s do a standup job for that.”

sE Electronics •