Today’s recording is slightly unusual on a number of levels. First of all it was actually recorded on location in Gloucestershire only 30 miles from our Cotswold based studios which are on the Wiltshire / Gloucestershire border. Also, it was in a secondary school rather than a primary school which is the norm for the majority of our school recordings. The recording came about because a good friend of mine is the relatively newly appointed Head of Music at Wyedean and she wanted to make a Christmas CD to feature the music groups she had created in the school over the previous 12 months.
Due to various logistical issues this was to be a 2 setup job. The first part of the recording was taking place in a large hall in order to accommodate 6 groups of Year 7 students. They were all singing Frosty the snowman. The idea being that each group of approximately 30 pupils would then be blended together so the end result was over 100 pupils singing together despite not actually being in the hall at the same time.
This is something we have done a lot of this year following the arrival of Covid-19. ‘Dubbing’ as it is sometimes referred to is not a wholly uncommon technique although with choirs it is often better to record them in the same space rather than blend several groups together. Nevertheless with a little clever trickery in post production we can create about the same results which does give schools the opportunity to present larger groups singing together than would otherwise be possible.
Moving the gear
After we had recorded various groups of Year 7 in the school hall, we then moved to the drama department for the rest of the day. This involved much smaller groups, several choirs, a vocal group and an orchestra. Fortunately the drama hall was only a short trek across a car park from the main hall so it only took about 15 minutes to move everything and get ready for our second session. As far as possible we try not to move the recording gear during the day as, depending on the distances involved, this can take quite a long time. However, sometimes school logistics and, in this instance, social distancing measures, mean there is no viable alternative.
First up was a vocal group singing John Brunning’s Pie Jesu. For this, once again, the sound engineer, (that’s me!) had to leave the recording desk and play the piano. The vocal group of 4 girls were extremely apt and soon had the song recorded in just a couple of takes. From then we moved onto the school orchestra. This was a much newer group having only been formed in recent weeks. It was an interesting combination of instruments. Some violins, saxophone, flute and other woodwind. They performed their own version of ‘Deck the Hall’.
The recording day finished up with a Gospel choir which was student led. Without being biased dare I say it, they were, for me at least, the stars of the show. They sang two songs. Joyful Joyful and Heart of Stone.
You can buy the Christmas Album from Wyedean School online by visiting our shop.