Recordings 4 Choirs were on location in Halesowen this weekend to record Lutley Community Voices lead by Margaret Jones
A short drive up the M5 on a Saturday morning was all it took to get us to Halesowen in the West Midlands. The venue for today’s recording with Lutley Community Voices was Hasbury Christian Fellowship – a small independent evangelical church serving the people of Halesowen. Arriving just before 8am we were soon indoors and started to set up for the recording session.
Lutley Community Voices
Lutley Community Voices was started in 2012. They describe themselves as a friendly mixed voice community choir based in Halesowen. And indeed they are a friendly bunch who made us feel very welcome! As well as being given a straw (see below) we also got some rather yummy biscuits! The choir’s musical director, Margaret Jones, is someone we have interacted with a lot via twitter when we engage with #ChoralHour on Friday evenings at 9pm. Always nice to meet the people behind the tweets!
The Recording Setup
It took us about an hour to setup the gear. From our perspective this recording was ‘easier’ than some on the basis it was all choir plus piano. Although at one point there was some clapping and then we did have to record some ‘car horns’. But more on that later! The choir’s accompanist had bought his own stage piano and amps which meant it was very simple for us to integrate this into our recording rig and take a direct feed.
By 9.30am the choir had arrived and were starting to warm up – curiously this seemed to involve giving everyone a straw. We didn’t like to question this and so along with the rest of the choir we blew into the little blue straws…
Recording the Choir
The plan was to record 10 songs with Lutley Community Voices. This is a good number to aim for. It gives you a nice amount of music on your CD but is feasible to record in just a single recording day. Of course you might argue that to record 10 songs, the average duration of which is 3-4 minutes, should take less than an hour. However, recording doesn’t quite work like that!
Nevertheless LCV made good time and by 2pm had most of the tracks recorded and ‘in the can’. Generally speaking we reckon a 3 minute song will take around half an hour to record. First the choir might rehearse for 10 minutes. We then go for a take. Some MD’s go immediately into a second take depending on the results of this, others prefer to listen through to the first take and then make adjustments before recording take 2. Then you have to account for the aborted takes – noises outside, false starts, paper rustling etc.
To their credit, Margaret Jones had prepared Lutley Community Voices well for this recording session and a lot of songs were recorded just once with the others needing just 2 takes. This is credit to the choir as well as their accompanist who was rock steady throughout the day and did a great job. Certainly it makes our job in post production a lot easier when there aren’t many edits and we can just get on with the job of mastering the audio.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the day was recording some clapping. Claps are always a bit of an issue – just think about the concept of a clapper board in film making – the idea is to put a spike on the audio channel so that the picture can be aligned with the sound. Trouble is a spike normally means distortion. Nevertheless with some careful planning clapping can be recorded. We took a select group of choir members and gave them the responsibility of clapping which was then recorded separately.
A similar process was followed for some ‘car horns’ which were required as part of a song. Fortunately the accompanist was able to supply us with a clean feed of the sound via his laptop and an audio interface. This meant it took just a few moments to add in the car horn sound effect – we can sort out exactly where it goes and make it sound better in the studio later!
Photos of the recording session
Shelly and I had a great time recording Lutley Community Voices. Below are a few photos taken during the recording session.
If you would like to record a CD or digital album with your Community Choir then please get in touch:
- 01225 302143
- Email via our contact form