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Blog: Crowd Sourcing A Crowd

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As well as ROCKING OUT at Totally Acoustic on Thursday night, I also engaged in some GUERILLA recording, using my four-track to record various delightful people singing along to the end coda of People Are All Right (when they are given half a chance). It's going to be our next single, but whilst listening to the (AMAZING) initial MIXES provided by Mr FA Machine I felt that we needed a crowd singing along for the final section, and realised that I would have access that night to a bunch of people very used to singing along!

My initial plan was to get the whole ROOM singing along at once as part of my set, but I eventually accepted that this would actually be Rather Annoying. My bit at the start is meant to just be a quick warm-up to get everyone used to the idea that it's a gig (some people take a while to realise this without lights, stage or PA) rather than the GUEST ARTISTES having to do it, but if I tried to orchestrate a recording session it would quickly descend into ADMIN and RE-TAKES. Also, I couldn't think of way to do it that wouldn't involve being able to hear ME bellowing over the top, or going wildly out of time with the actual recording. THUS I chose instead to use the multi-tracking capabilities of my recording device, and grabbed people and/or GROUPS of to record it as a series of seperate tracks.

Much to my surprise it worked REALLY WELL, as at various points in the evening I GRABBED people, stood them on the pub landing just outside the loo, put headphones on one of them, and then got them to sing along. Some people went solo, others in groups (with one person using headphones and the others following along with them), but everyone seemed to get the hang of it. Surely ALL recording sessions should be this peasy?

Over the weekend we recorded one extra vocal from The Notes In My Harmony, and then I began putting it all together. Again, it was DEAD EASY - it turns out that if you mix together a crowd of people singing the same song they sound like... well, a crowd! The oddest thing to my ears was that you could also REMOVE people and not make much difference. I wanted to check that no one voice was dominant, and so MUTED indivual tracks as it played through, but each time I was surprised to find it didn't make much difference. Taking HALF the people out obviously DID, but when there's LOADS it doesn't seem to matter. It reminded me of mixing APPLAUSE, which I always find DISTINCTLY odd. You can pretty much SPLICE together ANY two bits of applause, so long as they're of roughly the same volume, without anyone ever noticing. I do this all the time when putting together the podcasts and always MARVEL at the fact that you can never hear the join.

Anyway, the crowd recording is DONE now and sent to Frankie. I am hopeful that he will find his own mixing experience as straightforward as what I did, and then we are one step closer to unleashing another HIT!

posted 21/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett

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