Choir Recording logistics Tips

Choir Recording Logistics Tips for the Studio

Here are some choir recording logistics tips we’ve developed working with choirs in the studio. You can find audio recording tips on many other web sites. These logistics tips are to help make the choir tracking experience more comfortable for everyone.

  • If singing with pre-recorded music, for monitoring, feed the phones mix into a small FM transmitter. There are many available for less than $200. Then have the choir wear portable radios and headphones. You’ll have a few folks who accidentally change the station but it sure saves a bundle on monitoring equipment. Use radios that lock on frequency if possible. Also, mark measures in the track in advance.
  • Choirs work from measure numbers or verses/choruses in the music, not time code. As soon as possible, mark measure numbers in your editor or jot down time codes that correspond to measures. If possible, mark obvious starting points in the track in advance. Obvious starting points would be a few measures prior to verses, choruses and bridges.
  • ALWAYS roll a backup recorder. It’s difficult to get many people together for anything. Don’t expect that people will be able to come back later to fix issues.
  • On that same note, use the best Mic’s, Mic Preamps and A/D converters you can get your hands on. You’ll only get one shot at getting it right.
  • If space, style and available tracks permit, mic each section separately in addition to your main stereo pair above the director. The main stereo pair will usually do 90% of the work, but it’s nice to have options after everyone goes home. Spaced omni ambience mics are also advised.
  • If you are tracking at a venue away from your studio, bring plenty of DI boxes. Then toss in a few extras.
  • Be ready to play notes on a keyboard or piano. Good directors will always want to lead the choir in warmups. If the group is singing with a track, they may not bring their own pianist along.
  • Put printed sheet music on stands and try to have copies of the music that will not require page turns.
  • Cover metal music stands with thick cloth. Metal music stands ring if not covered.
  • Pull the music stands up to a high level so the singers don’t have to look down while singing.
  • Take digital photos of the setup and mark locations of singers and mics with tape. The goal is to be able to recreate the setup when needed (like after lunch or the next day).
  • Record a click-track to go with the accompaniment. You might not need to use it but it will often save the day if the choir is having trouble staying together.
  • If recording with more than a stereo pair, get close to the stereo mains and click some sticks together a few times. This will make it easier to time-align digital tracks later.
  • If the budget permits, get separate takes of each choir part, or just of problematic choir parts. This gives options later during editing.
  • Have the choir sing the last note of the song without the high notes if the music calls for them. Record a separate track for super high notes. You can pitch correct one soprano on a track by herself.
  • Most choirs struggle most with cutting off together and blending. Suggest that the choir rehearse cutoffs and blending extensively in advance.
  • Be sure you will have enough parking to accommodate the group.
  • Have plenty of bottled water, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE, available for each singer. Cold water will not benefit the vocal chords.
  • Groups of people need adequate rest room facilities. Be sure to stock up on plenty of hand soap (from a pump), towels and toilet tissue. Some germ-a-phobes find shared hand towels repulsive so a roll of paper towels is also a good idea. And at the risk of being indelicate, burn a beeswax (not scented) candle in the restroom.We burn candles in each room the choir will be in. Some people are highly sensitive to chemicals in any form, so no scents other than maybe from essential oils.
  • Communicate suggested hygiene tips to the choir members in advance. Since everyone will be in close proximity. Absolutely NO perfume or cologne! Use of personal care products (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner) without any chemicals is highly encouraged. However, tooth brushing is a good idea.
  • Lots of bodies in a room create lots of heat. We’ve installed flex ducting with in-line duct fans (mounted at the opposite end of the ducting) to expel heat from the room. We’ve found the combination quiet enough to operate while recording.
  • Have stuff to do for folks that are not part of the recording process. We encourage those recording not to bring anyone that isn’t vital to the recording process but sometimes additional bodies are unavoidable. A few Disney DVD’s in another room can do the trick. Just leave the sub woofer off so the movie doesn’t end up in the choir tracks. And no playing basketball!
  • If the session is especially important, video tape. Be prepared to accommodate three cameras if a video will be made of the tracking session.
  • Prepare packets of info about the studio. At a minimum give each person one of your business cards so they can contact you for any future recording needs.
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply