Recording Dartford Township Choir led by Mike King

Recording Session

In January 2015, we were on location in Christ Church, Dartford to record the Dartford Township Choir.    At the time they had just completed a workshop series with Mike King and wanted to record the songs they had learnt which would form their first CD.    Four years later, almost to the day, we were back in Christ Church to record a second album with DTC again lead by the multi talented Mike King.

Dartford Township Choir

Dartford Township Choir is a voluntary, non-profit-making, group of people, who like to sing.   The choir was created in 2008 to promote and organize adult participation in world music singing workshops and public performances. Unlike conventional choirs, DTC arranges stand-alone series of workshops, typically 6 sessions, each lasting 2 hours, followed by a performance.   By offering these short courses they attract people who might not wish to commit to a full-time choir.

At the end of 2018, Dartford Township Choir had arranged one such workshop with Mike King and to celebrate the success of this they wanted to record a CD.  Primarily the album is for the choir members to have as a memory of the workshop but copies will also be available at the forthcoming performances during 2019.  You can find out more about Dartford Township Choir by visiting their website.

recording session
Dartford Township Choir

Mike King

Mike King has been involved in the music industry for over 20 years since signing a record deal at the age of 17.  He has worked as a vocal coach on The Voice UK, helped smash a Guinness World Record by conducting 5,000 singers at Wembley Arena and directs choirs worldwide.  He was a lecturer at Goldsmiths University of London for 12 years and was a guest vocal tutor at the University of East London and London Metropolitan University.  He has worked with various international artists including multi-GRAMMY® winning singer Angelique Kidjo, GRAMMY® winning producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Rihanna), Mark Ronson, Boy George, Lily Allen and Florence Welch.

This is the third recording we have done with Mike.  The first was back in 2015 with DTC.  A couple of years ago we also recorded his own utterly fabulous gospel choir, again on location in London. Now, obviously you’d expect us to be complimentary about our customers. However, it is no exaggeration to say that Mike King is quite probably the most talented choral director we have ever worked with and for me personally one of the most outstanding musicians I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Mike King
Mike King

The Recording

Arriving just before 08.30, it took about an hour to get our recording gear set up.  Mike had specifically requested that the choir sing ‘around the piano’. For the most part this is because Mike directs the choir from the piano and therefore they all need to see him.  From our perspective this actually works quite well as it means we can use our Soundfield Microphone and get a fantastic immersive sound of the choir very much connected with the piano.     Obviously there is a question of balance between choir and piano but with careful microphone placing we can capture all the choir as well as the detail on the piano but with everything brought together by the Soundfield.    For many recordings this often works better than having the piano separated, even when you have close mics on each part.

The acoustic in Christ Church, Dartford is also well suited to this type of group.     The songs were all taken from the recent ‘Sing Soul’ workshop which DTC had been working on with Mike King at the end of 2018.  So, in many ways we were trying to emulate a ‘studio’ type recording.    WE spent most of the day recording with the choir.  Mike prefers to record full takes and so spends time rehearsing with the choir before we record.  In most cases the songs were recorded in 2 or 3 takes and the results, even before any processing, are outstanding.

The short video below shows our playback system being put to good use.  Whilst we play back the take over monitor speakers in the venue, Mike can highlight points for the choir to work on before we record another take:

Recording Solos

Once we had finished recording the choir, Mike wanted to record a couple of solos.  One was a small group of men who sang a ‘descant’ line.  We deiced this would be better done separately so we had the flexibility to bring out their line a little more rather than just record them ‘within’ the choir.

Solo Group of Singers
Mike working with a solo group

We only used a single mic for this group of singers as the aim was to just boost this line rather than create 5 individual solo voices.  We can then blend this audio in with the choir in post production.

Once we had finished the small group there was then a short solo line to be added.  This was again done by feeding the audio of the choir through headphones and then recording the soloist in isolation but in the same acoustic as everything else.   This should make it fairly easy to add back in once we get back to the studio.

Recording a solo
Solo Recording

Summary

We had a great time working with Mike and Dartford Township Choir.   In all honesty we love recording and working with choirs. But working with Mike King is also inspirational for me as a Choir Leader. His talent for getting people to sing and creating a fantastic ‘Soul / choral’ sound is unique.

The choir were also extremely hospitable and we were kept fed and watered throughout the recording session.   We really had a thoroughly nice day and will share some clips of the recording when they are ready.


If you would like to find out more about recording your choir on location then please give us a call on 01225 302143 or click here to email us

 

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