Peter's Blog

Harvest Virtual Choir Planning

Written by Peter Johnston on .

You have the chance to join in for a harvest thanksgiving choral anthem. We would like to create our own version of John Rutter's "Look at the World". This is an anthem the Ferryhill Singers have sung before and we look forward to creating a virtual choir rendition.

If you do not know the anthem, you can listen to versions online such as this one: https://youtu.be/otw_zbhd3gE

Choral Instructions

At our Zoom discussion for this one there were a few things highlighted to keep in mind for the singing of the piece.

Where a verse is marked "CHILDREN (or SOPRANOS)" then all female voices.

Clear diction is very inportant and pay particular attention to the end of lines (Kevin has tried to give you this direction in the conductor tracks) but usually we are looking at a clear end of a note on the first beat of the next bar. The key exception to this is the last bar of each verse before the refrain where there is a crotchet rest (half a beat in this time signature) to get a good breath before the refrain.

In the refrain we really want the "...we may see:" to extend into "All the gifts we share," and then snatch a breath. Because there is movement in the harmony for altos and tenors it is important for sopranos and basses to hold on to "see".

Watch the big leaps in notes, trying to make those as crisp and clean (no sliding of notes) between them.

We are following all the instructions relating to dynamics as written so look out for those. A particular highlight is the refrain after verse 3 to ensure you sing that as smoothly and delicately as you can. We hope we can drop the accompaniment for that refrain in the final edit.

Finally, note that the refrain is slightly different for the final time and that the accompaniment does slow at the end, but not overly so. Listen to it a few times to get the change of tempo there. And then on the final "thee" it is just held for two beats, stopping singing as the final chord of the accompaniment begins - don't hang on to it too long.

Resources

Kevin Haggart, our organist and music director, has created a number of audio files to guide you with each part. We have also put together five conductor videos that you can use to watch (and listen) while recording yourself to try to keep ourselves together as we bring our individual parts together.

Full Audio Guide Track

A version with all voices for you to listen to is available here. We would recommend you listen to this a few times to get the feel for the anthem.

 

Choir

The musical score is available here.

A conductor track for the whole choir is available here: https://youtu.be/FS9ggIMlYjE

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

The Soprano Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/M6WtKB0kQVk

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

The Alto Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/pu1eFFvlW5g

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

The Tenor Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/___52XAuDJE

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

The Bass Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/QUfLKJrIn4w

Technical Instructions

We recommend having a good few practice sing throughs before you film yourself and then when you’re ready to go, you can record yourself by playing the audio track through headphones on a device other than the one you are recording on. This way, the recording will only pick up your lovely singing! (I personally found it easier to only have one headphone in my ear so I could hear myself singing better, but that’s just personal preference!)

Do as many takes as you need – I know I have never once got it right the first time! And remember: even if it sounds a little weird to hear your voice on its own, when everything is edited together it will sound beautiful! You may want to find a spot where you can stand to sing to help your breathing.

A couple of little notes about filming: if possible, try to film somewhere quiet and well-lit (ideally with you facing a window) so that the videos look lovely! Please film landscape instead of portrait – it is so much easier to edit everything together if the videos all have similar proportions. Lastly, please keep recording until the music finishes! This just means that we don’t have some people’s videos cutting out way before others’ and means we’ll have a better finished video.

The Cue Clap: for this song we would ask you to clap on the first beat of the sixth bar of the introduction. This has been marked on the score in each of the conductor video tracks.

While we can absolutely have people film on their phones/tablets, recording using Zoom itself results in a much smaller file which is more manageable (both for sending the file and for editing the video together). If you are recording using Zoom on a laptop or desktop computer note that there is a new version with some enhanced features that is just now available so you may want to go back to their website (https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting) and download the client and install it so you have the latest version.

Once you have done this, open up the Zoom programme and on the home page click on the wee gear icon in the top right corner. This takes you to "Settings". Then click on the Audio option on the left column.

  1. Click the "Advanced" button at bottom right of the Settings window and check the box to Show in-meeting option to "Enable Original Sound" from microphone.
  2. Leave the Echo cancellation option on "Auto".
  3. Check the box for "Disable echo cancellation"
  4. Check the box for "High fidelity music mode"
  5. (If you have a stereo microphone you can also check the box for "Use stereo audio").
  6. When you then go to record your session on Zoom ensure that you have clicked the link at top left hand corner that would say "Turn on original sound" so that it illuminates in blue and says "Turn off original sound" - it is a bit of awkward language, but when it is blue then you are recording the original sound from your microphone.
  7. Ignore all of this if you are using Zoom on a tablet or smartphone as these options are not available!
  8. If you film on Zoom, the files will be saved once you end the meeting and it should save an audio file and a video file – it’s helpful for our editing if you can send us both of those! These are the m4a and mp4 files.

If this is all a bit complicated, don’t worry. It’s fine to just film on your phone/tablet – just be aware the file will be much bigger and might take a while to upload (depending on how good your internet connection is!)

When you have your recording, it would be helpful if you could rename the file with your name and which part you are singing (or playing), then you can upload your files directly to me using this dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/KJFwpXw50S4tdQxGRozJ

DEADLINE

It would be really appreciated to have the video submissions in hand by Sunday 27 September.

Enjoy yourselves!