This week the Bells on Temple Square got to be a part of the recording process for an upcoming Mormon Tabernacle Choir album. We’ve only ever been on the Christmas CD, so this was a new experience for us. The choir and orchestra doesn’t fit into a traditional studio, so they make the Tabernacle into a recording studio.
There’s a great article about all they do to eliminate extra noise like the hum of the drinking fountain or the buzz of a smoke detector when recording I found from the Deseret News in 2008.
“The quilts on the benches are also there to improve sound quality. “The quilts are like an audience — but with no coughing and talking,” he says. “The engineers didn’t like what they call a ‘swimmy’ sound, so we put the quilts out to absorb some of the sound, and the quality becomes crisper, cleaner.”
And probably only with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, he says jokingly, “could we send out an e-mail in the morning and have every member show up with a quilt that night.”
We memorized our song, and since we couldn’t rehearse in the tabernacle, we set up our rehearsal in the North Visitor’s Center. So cool to walk through the visitor’s center to a theater and find our tables all set up for bells. It was a little dark in that space, but we could still rehearse. When they needed us, we took our bells over to the tabernacle, and silently climbed the stairs behind the choir loft. At the signal, we made our way along the balcony seats and stood right at the edge of the balcony on both sides, as close to the orchestra and Mack Wilberg as we could be.
As we played our part, we worried about staying with Mack’s beat, yet not being ahead of the choir. Not sure if we were right on, since we are above and in front of the choir, we listened carefully to direction. Ryan Murphy was back in the sound booth listening carefully to each take. They do not record a whole song all at once, rather go over each section, sometimes even a few measures over and over to correct each inconsistency and fix any errors. While we were there, we heard them complaining of ONE tenor voice standing out. “We didn’t have this problem yesterday, men, so fix it. Have you moved seats or changed anything since then?” Mack said.
We were there for almost an hour between the waiting for our turn and playing our parts over and over. Not hard work, but my hands hurt from not being able to put down the bells or change them (especially my right hand that had two bells in it). We were just excited to be a part of a recording, and thankful that we were invited!
It’s just one song, and not even the whole song, but we can add that to the many Christmas CD’s we have played (I’ve been on 8 of them) I’ll be sure to let you know when this recording becomes available.