Peter's Blog

A Virtual Christmas Choir Extravaganza

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Welcome all singers to our next endeavour in the virtual space! We are planning on creating a wee selection of Christmas songs and carols that we can use in a variety of ways over the festive season. It means starting to get busy now so that we can spread the production of these songs out a bit over the next few weeks.

There is a lot of information below, so just work your way through it, one song at a time. Most of these you will know well, and for the traditional carols will include descant verses. There is some technical guidance at the bottom of this post which covers creating the recordings for all of the songs. We will phase the deadlines of the songs, which will make life a bit more manageable for all the editing that needs to go on. Note that we do not have conductor videos for all of these as most of them are familiar. These include two new songs that many of us learnt last year.

Kevin has created guide tracks for each of the traditional carols, and the audio tracks for the two contemporary songs include vocals that you can follow. For each individual song there are specific instructions, the audio tracks, and then a link to use to submit your audio and video files.

Thanks so much everyone. And if you have some festive attire you want to don, have some fun with that!

Hark! the herald angels sing

Thanks for the contributions for Hark! the herald. Here is the finished result:

O come, all ye faithful

Another carol is now prepared.

Plenty more to get involved with, but check the DEADLINES for contributions.

Sharing God's Christmas Light

You will find a copy of the score here.

For this new song, introduced last year, please just sing the whole thing through. When it comes to the edit I may use different voices at different parts, but it would be good to have options!

NOTE I updated the score on 16 November to correct one of the words. If you downloaded before that, you might want to download again.

SYNC CLAP: The instrumental introduction for this is the whole of the refrain, please CLAP on the first beat of the ninth bar (equating to "SHI-ning through us..." to assist the syncing of audio and video tracks together.

Vocal Guide Track

Guide track for All Voices can be downloaded here.

 

Submission Link

To submit your audio and video for Sharing God's Christmas Light, please use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/SqiqoWCUYiTHCKABSFwj

DEADLINE: 23 NOVEMBER 2020 

Once in royal David's city

You will find a copy of the score here.

This will be sung with just sopranos for the first verse (I may pick one or two voices to start us off), then in harmony for the next two verses, and finally with the fourth verse including descant from Sopranos, all other voices singing the main melody. Note that we are just singing four verses, omitting verses 3-4.

SYNC CLAP: There is a simple drum beat at the start. Please CLAP on the eighth drum beat to assist the syncing of audio and video tracks together.

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

Submission Link

To submit your audio and video for Hark! the herald angels sing, please use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/KgUz2ZupKQ3DWdtWIcl5

DEADLINE: 30 NOVEMBER 2020

The Angels Say

You will find a copy of the score here.

For this new song, introduced last year, there is a repeated line "Don't be afraid, the angels say" that we all sing in each verse. And we all sing the refrain. But we will add some variety in the verses for the cantor part and on some of the refrains we can add harmony. This one really needs to be listened to a few times to get a feel for the variety.

VERSE 1 - Solo female voice
VERSE 2 - Solo male voice
VERSE 3 - All female voices  (NOTE REFRAIN SUNG WITH HARMONY)
VERSE 4 - All male voices
NOTE WEE INSTRUMENTAL BREAK
VERSE 5 - Solo male voice  (NOTE REFRAIN SUNG WITH HARMONY)
VERSE 6 - Solo female voice  (NOTE REFRAIN IS DIFFERENT THIS TIME - ALL SING THE MELODY)
VERSE 7 - All Voices  (NOTE REFRAIN SUNG TWICE WITH HARMONY VOICES)

SYNC CLAP: The instrumental introduction for this is four bars long (a four count in each bar), please CLAP on the first beat of the third bar (on the ninth beat total) to assist the syncing of audio and video tracks together.

Vocal Guide Track

Guide track for All Voices can be downloaded here.

 

Submission Link

To submit your audio and video for The Angels Say, please use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/Lfs89yKLnRS8CHMaxf2J

DEADLINE: 30 NOVEMBER 2020 

God rest you merry gentlemen

You will find a copy of the score here.

This will be sung as indicated below:

VERSE 1 - All voices singing melody
VERSE 2 - Harmony
VERSE 3 - All voices singing melody
VERSE 4 - Harmony
VERSE 5 - All voices singing melody

NOTE: An updated version of the score was uploaded on 18 November 2020 to clarify verse 5, so you may want to download again if you had done so before that date.

SYNC CLAP: The instrumental introduction is the refrain. Please clap on the first beat of the second full bar which equates to "O tidings of COM-fort and joy...".

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

Submission Link

To submit your audio and video for God rest you merry, please use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/5u3ot2TkKjGuTcpnCgIe

DEADLINE: 30 NOVEMBER 2020

O little town of Bethlehem

You will find a copy of the score here.

This will be sung as indicated in the score, with four part harmony for verses 1-3, then Sopranos on descant with all other voices on melody line for verse 4.

SYNC CLAP: The instrumental introduction is the first line of the musical score. Please clap on the first beat of the second full bar which equates to "O little town of BETH-lehem...".

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

Submission Link

To submit your audio and video for O little town of Bethlehem, please use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/gm2Ls3XJVgnn4OqcruRZ

DEADLINE: 4 DECEMBER 2020

Still, still, still

You will find a copy of the score here.

Here is a version of this anthem for you to listen to as an example:

This will be sung as indicated in the score with male voices singing the first verse (VOICE 1) and female voices for second verse (VOICE 2). For last verse with Sopranos and Tenors singing the DESCANT as other voices sing the melody line. Pay particular attention to the dynamic markings in the score, this should be sung very gently.

SYNC CLAP: Kevin has added a metronome to the audio to assist with this one, please clap on the first beat of the third bar, which will be the third "ting" of the triangle.

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

Submission Link

To submit your audio and video for Still, Still, Still, please use this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/Uev2KtsjUf7BMJob6elm

DEADLINE: 4 DECEMBER 2020

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.

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, you can use the submission links that are included above. Please remember to rename files if possible with your NAME, what PART you are singing, and the name of the song.

Enjoy yourselves and get into that festive spirit!