Ding Dong! Merrily On High
March 6, 2015 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I need straightforward, unadorned recordings of English Christmas carolers. No crowd noise, no ambience, no accompaniment, no perfect professional chorales. Just ordinary folks singing in an otherwise quiet room ... or even outdoors if it's recorded well enough. (They must be songs in the traditional English repertoire.)

There don't appear to be commercial recordings of this nature, and I've searched all the FX/sound libraries I can think of. Everything on YouTube carries sonic hallmarks of the public place in which it was recorded. I've even tried searching choral books at Amazon that come with CDs for practicing, but they all have accompaniment. Basically, this just needs to sound like you've opened the door to your house and they're on the porch singing away.

These folks are the closest I've come, but their recordings are accompanied, are recorded in noisy public places, and are also too perfect for what I need.

(Note: I'm even willing to license private recordings if any of you are part of a caroling group that's made rehearsal tapes.)

I understand why there's not a great demand for this, because it really is supposed to sound like your neighbors have come round, but I am dire need for a radio sound design project. Help?
posted by mykescipark to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at the end of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" comes close...there's a very faint organ accompaniment that you can barely hear at all, especially at the beginning.
posted by Melismata at 9:05 AM on March 6, 2015

Response by poster: Too recognizable, I'm afraid, and also far outside the stratosphere of my licensing budget!
posted by mykescipark at 9:08 AM on March 6, 2015

Check out Librivox's christmas carol collections. There is one most years, e.g. At least some of the songs should meet your criteria.

I love them.
posted by pseudonick at 9:25 AM on March 6, 2015

maybe search youtube for "family caroling". there seem to be a lot of families who do this sort of thing and some of them do indoor recordings with reasonable sound quality. here is an example.
posted by steinwald at 9:39 AM on March 6, 2015

I found these recordings of families singing together on Christmas on YouTube:

Christmas Carols with Family

At Bakken Christmas
posted by colfax at 9:55 AM on March 6, 2015

Well, this video certainly sounds "like you've opened the door to your house and they're on the porch singing away."
posted by ocherdraco at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2015

Best answer: This is a great one from Smithsonian Folkways. Lots of good stuff there.

There are also some three-piece harmony groups but they sound more polished: see Coope, Boyes and Simpson or Finest Kind (look for "Feasts & Spirits").
posted by transient at 1:47 PM on March 6, 2015

On my first link, try "Hail Smiling Morn".
posted by transient at 1:51 PM on March 6, 2015

Response by poster: transient, dash it! I listened to that recording last night, but didn't go far enough ... the preponderance of organ in most of the tracks threw me off the scent. There are some tunes towards the end that are perfect!

(Also, yes: by English I also meant the accent, so these are exactly what I needed.)
posted by mykescipark at 3:00 PM on March 6, 2015

There's an album on iTunes by a group I used to sing with that has 50 a cappella arrangements (one of which I wrote) of various styles of Christmas carols. The album is billboarded as 'barbershop' but it's not, it's straight ahead typical caroling arrangements.
posted by DandyRandy at 3:04 PM on March 6, 2015

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