When I started the project I thought that we would bring in Red Team's singers and multi-track a couple of passes to give us a full sound, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to record a larger group made up of regular members of the congregation. If this is about congregational singing then I wanted it to sound like a congregation was singing!
This threw up a technical problem. We are not making a live recording -- where everyone sings and plays at the same time. We needed to play the already recorded accompaniment for the singers to hear. This is usually done over headphones in the studio but there were not enough headphones and extension cables for a congregation. One option is to play the music at low volume through carefully placed speakers - the trouble is that inevitably some of the backing track bleeds into the vocals. If you want to multitrack the vocals then this is a problem when it comes to mixing.
|The transmitter and the frequency|
As the recording day approached I made announcements on the Sunday mornings: please stay behind after Sunday school on September 30 to have a run through of the songs for the recording. I emphasized that this invitation was for everyone. I ran off a bunch of song sheets - Libby whipped up bread and homemade soup for the throng that would descend . . .
Now I don't know if it was because we picked a Sunday when folks had a lot of extra commitments, but getting folks to sing was like trying to milk a horse. I positioned myself at the main door and as folks kept walking I repeatedly heard comments like "Oh, you don't want my voice on a CD."
|Singing church at the ATS Chapel|
I ran into a new problem: people didn't have radios. It had never occurred to me that the once ubiquitous FM radio was now obsolete! On Friday I remembered that I had been told the university's Rec Center has radios for the gerbils on the tread mills to tune into the TVs. They kindly lent me six new Sony Walkman radios still in their packaging. Now all I had was a knot in my stomach wondering if we would have enough people.
In the end a we had a group of around twenty show up (including two of my colleagues from the Religion Department).
Getting two or three passes at the twelve songs took longer than I had advertised -- the 'congregation' didn't escape until 2:30.
|Five hours of singing and we are still standing (just)!|
With the crowd gone, that left Red Team to dig in and record harmonies -- two hours later there were seven of us still standing (just). Marshall, the engineer, seemed pretty excited about what we had recorded. We will start mixing this week and we'll see what we have.