Bethpage High School A Cappella

House Studios recently had the pleasure of working with the Bethpage High School show choir, an a cappella (all-vocal) group comprised of 15 talented, young musicians.  We were approached by Marc Silverberg (the groups head musical director and vocal percussionist) with the intent to have three cover songs fully recorded, produced and mixed at House Studios.  The songs were “Shark in the Water” by VV Brown (, “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles ( and “Boondocks” by Little Big Town (, which were all dissected and meticulously rearranged by Marc.  It is a tricky task to ensure that each element that is embodied in an original composition (guitar, drums, bass, etc.) be reworked into a completely different styling, format and genre, while preserving the key musical qualities that make a song recognizable and great to begin with.  Marc achieved just this with the songs he had prepared for this recording project.

To go about recording the a cappella group, we started with the rhythm section (drums and bass) to get the basic structure in place and then we proceeded to overdub the rest of the vocal parts (tenor, alto, soprano).  The vocal percussion was recorded alongside a metronome and a MIDI file was provided which contained a basic piano arrangement of the various sections.  Each recording session consisted of one vocal section being present at the studio at one time (just the bass section, or just the soprano section, etc.), and the vocalists were recorded in groups of two.  We knew that we wanted to achieve maximum isolation of not only each section, but of each voice that comprised Marc’s complex arrangement (each voice on its own track yielding maximum manipulation of every element in the mix).  Each vocalist stood behind his/her own microphone in the live room.  Despite them singing simultaneously in the same room (standing several feet apart), there was minimal leakage or “bleed” into the adjacent vocalists microphone.  To save time, we instructed the musicians to only sing the verse or the chorus once (as opposed to singing the song all the way through), in which we were able to quickly copy and paste into a later part of the song.  Two microphones were used during the making of this entire project.  The first was our Telefunken AR-51 Tube and the second was our Bock U195 Fet microphone.  The Telefunken ran through an A-Designs P1 mic preamp and the Bock ran through an Avedis MA5 mic preamp.  Compression was used during tracking (through our Distressors) and the signal chain ended into a track in Pro Tools HD recorded at a 96k sample rate.  Once the vocal percussion and the four main sections were set in place, the last element to be recorded was the lead vocalist.

Everyone in the a cappella show choir was ecstatic and proud of what they had accomplished at House Recording Studios.  The students were enthusiastic and eager to obtain as much knowledge and creative inspiration from this endeavor as possible.  For most of the musicians in the group, this was their first experience in the recording studio and we made sure that everyone had a fun, exciting experience working with us.  We achieved our goal by creating a great sounding product that had a perfect balance of being moderately produced mixed with an authentic, live performance feel.  Upon listening, one can truly make out each section that went into Marc’s arrangement.  We can’t wait to work with the Bathpage High School show choir again in the future.  Check out “Shark in the Water,” arranged my Marc Silverberg, performed by Erin Fowler and recorded, mixed and produced by Marc Bauman at House Recording Studios.  Enjoy!