I love Christmas Music. I have for as long as I can remember. I usually start listening to/singing along with my Christmas music about the same time I start decorating for Christmas—which is usually November 1st. I even recorded an album of Christmas music with backing tracks that I helped to arrange and that were recorded by some of the top-notch studio musicians in Nashville.
One area that has always alluded me, though, was the area of a capella music. I’ve never been able to do it very well. While I have a “strong” voice, I’m not particularly good and blending. I have been trying to write an a capella arrangement of a Christmas song every year for the last six or seven years, and I’ve never been able to get even remotely close to a viable product. Until this year.
I started this just over a week ago, and have finally finished my first-ever a capella arrangement—a six-part arrangement (5 backing vocals and a lead) of the Christmas song, “The First Noel.” This has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. I used to sing it to myself when I would deliver newspapers late at night when I was 13 or 14, walking through the streets in my neighborhood taking in all the Christmas decorations.
I started by playing all 6 parts into a sampler so I could get a rough idea of how I wanted it to sound. Then I transferred the resulting MIDI file into Sibelius so I could print sheet music from it. Once the sheet music was done, I started recording. I began with the Bass line, and sang it through three times. Then I went through each remaining backing part from the bottom to the top, doing each one of those three times. (Total of 15 tracks). After I cleaned all of those up, ran them through a very light auto-tune to lock in the pitches, and lined up all of the consonants, then I went back and recorded the lead vocal four times, comping together the final vocal from the best bits of those four takes. I am super thrilled with the way this turned out. I think it’s one of the strongest pieces of music I’ve ever done.
So, if you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like to hear 16 of me singing simultaneously, you can listen below. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas this year!