Grain bin acoustics

‘I was always curious, what would it sound like to sing in an empty grain bin?”

-Photo courtsey of Paul DeCoursey
In a view from above, the Triton Choir sings “Hear My Prayer” in a Sukup grain bin on Brad Black’s Barnum farm.

Will Lopes, the Iowa Central Community College director of vocal music, always wondered what it would sound like to sing in a grain bin.

“I wanted to come up with a project where I would engage the students right away in something that they never experienced,” Lopes said. “I am thinking on the idea of singing in cool or fun places. I was always curious, what would it sound like to sing in an empty grain bin or an old church or barn?”

In October, Lopes got his answer when the Triton Choir teamed with the college’s TV and broadcasting program to produce a video featuring high quality sound.

The Triton Choir performed “Hear My Prayer” by Moses Hogan inside a brand new Sukup grain bin on a Barnum farm.

Lopes came to Iowa Central 16 years ago as an international student from Brazil. After living in Minnesota and Florida for a time, the Triton Alumni Hall of Famer returned to teach vocals at the college this past fall.

-Photo courtsey of Paul DeCoursey
Karlee Jones, of Carroll, performs with other members of the Triton Choir in a grain bin.

He said the project to sing in the grain bin brought two of his passions together.

“One is recording, and the other is singing in fun places,” he said.

When he was looking for a grain bin in which to perform, another Iowa Central alum entered the conversation.

“I posted on Facebook and I knew a couple of friends when I was living here, and they farm,” Lopes said.

Brad Black, of Barnum, invited Lopes and the choir to his property.

-Photo courtesy of Paul DeCoursey
Members of the Triton Choir perform inside a Sukup grain bin in Barnum.

“He (Brad) said as a matter of fact we have a brand new one we just built,” Lopes recalled.

At first, Lopes said he planned on recording the performance with a cell phone.

“But as we started brainstorming, we thought this can become a very cool thing,” Lopes said. “So what if we now start thinking on partnerships? Coming back to Fort Dodge is really trying to bring an Iowa Central connection to the community. So we have a choir, a place to record, now let’s think on the production side of this.”

That’s when the choir partnered with the the TV and broadcasting program, which is directed by Rusty McNeil.

“They just embraced the idea,” Lopes said.

In terms of song choice, the choir decided to perform a tune still fresh in their minds from its fall concert.

“That song (“Hear My Prayer“) is a message that can be heard at any time of the year,” Lopes said. “We didn’t want to do anything connected to a season because it would come and go. It would be a song that, everybody can use a little prayer. That was one of the pieces we did for our fall concert at Friendship Haven.”

The Triton Choir has an estimated 70 members. About 50 were able to be involved in the grain bin performance.

Some students were involved in both choir and broadcasting.

“They helped from that side of it as well,” Lopes said. “We worked a lot on placement and how to sing for the recording purposes.”

When everyone arrived at the farm, there was some background noise.

“It was a very windy day,” Lopes said. “We cleaned up the recording a little bit, but basically what you hear is what it was.”

“We went there and that was what was seen on the video.”

The video can be viewed on the Iowa Central Community College Facebook page. It has already had more than 11,000 views.

“I am not completely surprised with the reaction because it is something new,” Lopes said. “We haven’t done anything like this. But what I am surprised is really how much people are appreciating the project. That was really something I was hoping would happen because of the partnership. This was no longer just the choir singing a song. The choir went to an alum farm and did a song with the TV and broadcasting department.

“Because of that I am very grateful.”

Lopes said it likely won’t be the last time the Triton Choir sings in a surprising place.

“Now I am very excited about thinking this might be a series we do,” Lopes said. “Next fall, we might go and find a barn some place. Singing in cool places might be a series we would do as we move forward.”