Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass
Girls Aloud St. Trinians

Do you make this simple schoolgirl error in production?


How would you like to have a song at Number 51 in the UK Singles Chart? Well stratospheric it may not be, but it’s a lot better than I have ever managed (which was Number 4 in the Tower Records Weird Chart, but that’s another story entirely!)

Girls Aloud St. Trinians

And as part of the soundtrack of a successful movie (i.e. it made a profit), the composers of the song have every right to feel proud. In fact, everyone involved in the production of the song should be able to bask in the glorious sunshine of success they have created.

Except…Whoever was responsible for producing the vocals. OK, the credited producer should have had the final say, but it might well have been someone else who was responsible in the studio for this amateurish gaffe that should never have passed through to the commercial marketplace.

Here’s the song. It’s from the 2007 movie St. Trinian’s. It’s a fun movie and well worth the time you’ll spend watching it.

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You should probably listen to the whole song first, performed by Girls Aloud (apparently one of them is Cheryl Cole, but we can’t tell which one).

Hear any amateurish gaffes?

Well listen again just after the 1.09 mark. Listen for the ‘s’ sounds.I think you have probably got it now. And it happens again later in the song.

There are several people singing, possibly more than the five voices of the group. And the ‘s’ sounds at the ends of ‘rest’, ‘best’, ‘please’ and ‘Trinian’s’ are all out of alignment.

This is indeed a schoolboy error, or perhaps we should say schoolgirl error in this case.

There are three ways to prevent or correct this problem…The first is to have a conductor, like the conductor of a choir. The conductor simply gives a gesture when the ‘s’ should sound. I’ve done it in the past myself and it’s easy. It works better when everyone is singing together, but it can also work for individual overdubs.

The second is to decide and specify on which beat of the bar the ‘s’ should come. This is also easy if your performers understand what you are talking about. And if you want the ‘s’ to come on the last eighth-note of the bar, well good luck to you on that.

The third solution, which shouldn’t really be necessary, is to edit the problem away in the DAW, which you can do if each vocal is on a separate track. It isn’t so easy if they are all mixed onto one track, but probably worth a try.

Still, these small errors don’t spoil a pleasant song and, as I said, the movie is fun, as is its sequel St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.

If you know of any amateurish gaffes on commercially released recordings, we would love to hear about them!

David Mellor

Producing Lauren Balthrop

Producing Lauren Balthrop

One song and only one day to professionally produce it! Can it be done? Find out as the pros at Dubway Studios in New York City take you on a recording and mixing adventure in this first edition of our new Docutorial™ series we call SongCraft!

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David Mellor