Yesterday evening, our course was given the opportunity to go observe sound effects being recorded for an upcoming local production of Macbeth.
Naturally, I jumped at the chance as it meant being able to see the multitrack Tascam recorder in use which we have not used yet and the setting up process along with the actual recording. It also meant a chance to go into the hallowed TV studio at the university which I’ve never been to before as we needed a large enough space for the actors to be able to move around.
One of the sound guys from the uni was helping with the sound for the production so he was explaining to us what he was planning to record and how he wanted to play it out during the and the way this affected the set up.
The sounds recorded were going to be for the battle at the beginning of the play, the three witches’ scenes and for a banquet. We were tasked with setting up the microphones into a circle so that when the audience heard the recordings, they were completely immersed with the sounds and felt part of the scene.
At this point we thought we were then going to watch the actors perform but how wrong we were. Somehow I found myself in a large circle around the microphones trying to do battle cries and loud, gruesome deaths at about 8 in the evening on a relatively normal Wednesday. Think it’s fair to say I was not the best, partly because I sounded like a very posh, high pitched Celt and because we kept getting the giggles.
After this, the next sound to be recorded was some eerie wind to be a backdrop to the witches’ spell and for this all the women were recorded first doing an exaggerated exhale, then a long inhale and then what was directed as an angry exhale. Not too sure how angry I sound breathing out but gave it my best shot.
We were then all told we were to try and re-enact the sounds you would hear at a banquet or party, not the eating or clinking of goblets but the chatter and laughter. To make this more immersive for the audience when they were watching and listening, we were told to move around the microphone circle as we did this so it would sound dynamic.
Thankfully, I got a break while the guys then had to do some singing. The idea was to record them doing a plainsong, which is a kind of religious chant. Josh, a fellow student, took the lead and was directing everyone and getting them to harmonise and sing in Latin without any script. To say us onlookers were impressed is an understatement and it sounded fantastic.
Then the worst bit of the night for me happened. We all had to sing. I can’t sing at all and knowing this I do my best not to sing in front of anyone ever so it was an awful couple of minutes. No one said anything though so hopefully it wasn’t too terrible.
Overall, despite not being in my comfort zone at all, it was quite fun and it was great being able to watch it being all done and the plans for what would be done and the effects used to make it add another dimension to the scenes.
The production is touring around Southampton and Bournemouth through March and early April and we are all planning on going to see it when it is performed in the Shelley Theatre, for the dates then go to the site here. Definitely think it’ll be worth going, especially for the excellent sound effects.