Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

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Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby Drumstruck » Thu Jun 26, 2014 12:38 pm

Hey all,

Wondering if any of your folks use country locations for recording? e.g. old churches, shearing sheds, barns etc

Any successes? Any tips on how to book such "venues"?

:-?
Ian Dare
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Re: Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby lonearranger » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:23 am

Hey Ian,

You could try talking to local ministers and real estate agents.

Were there any particular places you were thinking? I could scope out some possibilities around Walcha where I live if you were interested - any idea of the type of projects and the number of people involved, and the time needed.

Cheers
Michael
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Re: Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby Drumstruck » Sat Jun 28, 2014 1:32 pm

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your kind offer - I was more interested to hear if anyone else does this sort of "venue" recording - there are so many old churches and halls in the countryside that it looks like an untapped resource with interesting acoustics. I remember near Walcha there's a huge old shearing shed that looks like a castle - always thought it would be good to record in there.
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Re: Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby SteveL » Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:37 pm

Hi Ian,

Since being down in Crookwell the past 3 years, I have recorded in various old churches, halls, scout rooms and sheds. For the past three years I have produced an annual compilation CD of Upper Lachlan Shire performers, so have travelled around recording over 90 tracks in that time to all kinds of locations (small choir groups/school kids/trad. bush bands and poets etc).

The best hall I have found is the old Narrawa Memorial Hall (middle of nowhere between Crookwell and Boorowa), fantastic timber hall with raised stage.

Anyway, yes there are lots of these types of venues around, but in my experience most of them are poorly (if ever) maintained, so even disregarding stock trucks going past outside, livestock noises etc, there is often loose iron sheeting that will flap in the wind, wind noise through the floorboards, rain noise on the old roofs, erratic/poor power supplies (some downright dangerous) that can go out for hours, no toilets (a hole in the ground with a bit of corrugated iron around it if lucky, tank water (if you're lucky and then it will be rusty and full of frogs), and the odd lurking snake (careful what 'cable' you go to grab).

Many are just too reverberant (no carpets or soft furnishing in any of them at all) making the use of gobos a hassle to haul around in a car/trailer, and in my part of the woods they are absolutely freezing in autumn/winter evenings (often days too).

They rarely live up to what you hope them to be (amazing acoustic spaces), there are just too many negatives. Maybe once in a while you will get lucky and have a perfectly still day, little traffic (vehicular or hoofed) outside. But mostly I have found working in a controlled space my preferred choice if I can get the performers to come to me.

Re tips on how to book the venues, as far as the isolated ones go (which are the preferable ones for recording in), in my experience usually the owner of the adjoining property/farm has they keys - if you see a venue that looks interesting, call in on the nearest homestead and ask there, often they'll give you the key to go take a look around if you explain what the project is. Although they are not "the owners", they are the gatekeepers and the ones who maintain and watch over the building.

Often the small churches you see isolated in the country are, while consecrated, often on land gifted by an adjoining landowner over the generations (and where most of their family is buried), and you'll get your access via the landowner. These churches are not used for regular services, rather for funerals/weddings etc, so are empty most of the time.

Steve
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Re: Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby Drumstruck » Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:30 pm

Thanks Steve - excellent advice - much appreciated :-)
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Re: Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby gregwalker » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:03 pm

I'm down in South Gippsland and I've also been doing the hall recording thing quite a lot. It can be a real pain with issues such as birds nesting in the ceiling, trucks going by, the local farmer starting his mower / tractor / harvester / motorbike next door or even local sporting teams turning up unannounced if there's an oval nearby. Having said all that it can also be sensational for the artist and recording engineer as well. I've done six or seven albums in the last few years that way for artists like Jess Ribiero, Paul Kelly, Tiny Ruins and Charles Baby and no-one ever regretted going to all the trouble. People sing better in a big space with a nice natural reverb and I reckon they also feel more special when they see you busting your arse getting it all set up for them!!

I reckon there's three main issues to consider -

1) finding the right space that's reverberant but not too bright and clangy
2) making sure its isolated enough that you're not fighting traffic noise
3) getting permission to be there

Getting all three of these boxes ticked can be a big job. Usually the hire fees are very modest but a lot of small communities have had bad experiences with bands hiring their halls and trashing them, so people are often a bit reluctant at first and you have to win them over to the idea of recording. On the other hand if you hire their hall for a week they make 6 months worth of function income so that's pretty attractive. It took me months to talk one community into doing a project in their hall but its the best sounding one in the area and now I've got a great ongoing relationship with them. It all takes time but I reckon its definitely a great way to go - especially for quieter acoustic albums that don't involve the sonic issues of drums!

All the best with it,
Greg
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Re: Recording locations e.g. old churches - thoughts?

Postby Julian Nichols » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:21 pm

A few weeks ago I recorded violin on the spiral staircase of a 14th Century castle in Ireland. Unfortunately for various reasons the recordings weren't useable (I was travelling very light gear wise). Still, the spiral stone staircase was 5 stories high, and had some unique and very nice characteristics. I found the castle on AirBnB - it was surprisingly cheap - you may find something similar if you search, and the beauty of it is that you'll probably have the space to yourself.
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