One of the delights about our business is that we record a whole range of different groups from Primary School Choirs to professional Chamber Choirs, Competition Bands and A Cappella Choruses.
As a result of this wide range of clientele we have to adopt a different approach for each group particularly when it comes to the number of takes which can be done.
When we record in Primary Schools there is, as you’d expect, only a limited time available to complete the recording. In most cases we record a song with each year group or class, a song with the choir (if they have one) and then a song with the whole school. We also sometimes record Ukulele groups, String quartets and Wind Quintets.
Regardless of what we are recording, there will generally be around 10 different groups of children and probably 12 songs or so in total. This might not sound like a lot but actually when you are limited to the school day, and also have to allow for lunchtimes, this is about the limit of what we can record in a day.
Why does it take so long?
It actually doesnt take that long to record a song but we usually suggest allowing 20 minutes per song with schools based on the following:
- Children arrive in the hall and line up near the microphones
- Sing the song through as a warm up and to check levels / any issues with backing tracks (if being used)
- Make adjustments where necessary
- Record take 1 of the song
- If needed we then record a second take – sometimes the children just want another go or maybe someone coughed or did something unexpected during the first take
- Children then file out of the hall and we await the next class.
As a result when we do these sorts of recordings we generally record 2 or 3 takes of each group and then pick the best one. Sometimes of course we get classes of children who are just brilliant and record in one take. This is great for us and them!
When we record adult chamber choirs, again there is usually a time limit of some sort. Depending on the choir then in the majority of cases we follow a similar path as outlined above, with the exception the choir will generally be in the recording space for longer! Sometimes chamber choirs will also prefer to record complete takes of the songs but this is perhaps rarer. IN the majority of cases we will always start with a full take but then re record any areas which need it so they can later be ‘spliced’ together in post production.
Obviously this is a much longer (and costlier) process. There are arguments on both sides as to whether the best result is obtained from re recording an entire take or just part of a song. The issue sometimes is whether your choir can pick it up midway through at exactly the same volume and speed.
From our perspective the biggest hazard of editing two takes together is how closely they match each other. To some extent yes we can change the speed and the overall volume but again this will depend on your budget for post production. If it is an A Cappella Choir then there can also be issues of tuning between two takes. And no, auto tune doesn’t work on choirs particularly successfully!
So, as with much of our business, there is no one size fits all. There are general principles, outlined above, which we tend to stick to for the majority of recordings. However, we always remain flexible in order to try and do the very best we can for each customer to ensure their recording is as good as it could possibly be.
To find out more about our Recording Services for Schools and Choirs please give us a call on 01225 302143 or click here to email us