by Gary Powell, Producer
Austin jazz pianist and composer Rich Harney has been gracious enough to give me permission to share his jazz choral piece, “Jesus, Lamb of God”, with you.
When recording choral ensembles, I prefer to let the music dictate or at least guide me to the appropriate recording technique. Budget, studio space, singer capabilities or even singer availability are all part of the equation. The singers, in relation to the music, must also be considered in choosing how to produce the recording session.
For Rich’s piece, I chose the choral recording method which creates the richest, most homogeneous sound. It’s a nice way to produce chorale compositions because it “blurs the ears” from hearing individual parts. Because of the tight voicings of Rich’s piece, however, we also took special care to scale the size of individual voices and vibratos. As you will hear, we have created a wide and airy sound with only nine different singers. All but the lowest alto and basses sang multiple parts on multiple recording passes, which is another nice way to homogenize the sound and performance gestures. Career studio session singers all become fluent in these vocal gestures with the ability to create, take dictation, harmonize, read and change quickly all within the ensemble at hand.
Performance gestures include the initial transient (how each note begins), tone, vowel sounds, vibrato, envelope (how it all changes over time) and release.
The men and women were recorded separately and in a “mid-side” microphone configuration. Distances from the mics varied from four to six feet depending on the tone and volume within each singer’s tessitura.
MEN: John White, Rich Harney, David Stevens,
Bert Meisenbach, Gary Powell
PIANO: Rich Harney UPRIGHT BASS: Spencer Starnes
(Choir Recorded by Larry Seyer)
I have a multi-decade musical relationship with every singer except for Dianne Donovan who is new to my studio. Diane is an announcer and producer for KMFA, Austin’s classical radio station. Welcome, Diane, and thank you lending your vocal talents to Rich Harney’s piece. Also, I hope you will take special note of Spencer Starnes’ wonderful bass performance.
Enjoy reading more about Rich Harney’s piano part and this production.