Just before Christmas we were invited to Westonbirt School by their acting Head of Music Miss Lorraine Wild. Lorraine is a good friend of mine who is also the accompanist for Cirencester Male Voice Choir and so when she asked for my help to record a song for the forthcoming DVD on Westonbirt I was only too happy to oblige.
The approach to the school is certainly impressive and whilst I have been to Westonbirt a few times for other reasons this was our first opportunity to record at the school. On arrival I met up with Lorraine in the entrance hall and we then proceeded to the music department. The recording venue for today was to be a reasonable size classroom which is apparently also used for recording from time to time.
The task, in this relatively small room was to record 4 girls singing to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar and a beat box. In such a space this is always going to be quite a challenge not least because the guitar was fairly quiet as it was not amplified and the beat box is of course quite loud. This meant it was not possible to get any kind of isolation between the instruments and the singers. However, we arranged the performers in such a way to try and minimise the amount of bleed as far as possible and the initial results were quite pleasing.
As there was only one song and we had a couple of hours, there was plenty of time to experiment with different microphone positions. Ultimately when you are recording on location the best tool available is the sound engineers ears! All the theory books in the world cannot always give you the right answer for the less than perfect environment. In fact according to the theory books the majority of things we do on location are not ideal or not recommended! But unless we build a physical studio every-time we go somewhere, there is always going to be a compromise of some sort.
I, for one, was rather pleased with the results we achieved but you can judge for yourself.