Impress your Music Director

Why wait until your conductor goes ape because you haven’t done any singing for three months? There is lots you can do at home to get your voice in trim for the new season. You don’t need a piano, just your original instrument; your voice. There are some very instructive and helpful sites.
First try www.vocalist.org.uk. “Vocalist (as they put it), is the site for singers, vocalists, singing teachers and students of voice of all ages, standards and styles. Browse the site to find useful information on aspects of singing, performance, plus free online singing lessons and articles for vocalists.
 Whether you want to be a Rock God or Classical Diva - You never stop learning, and our pages on Voice Training, Exercises and Techniques have free singing lessons for beginners, vocal articles, breathing exercises, ear training, aural/pitching applications, posture exercises, online vocal scales, information on working in the music business, singing books and repertoire, links to dedicated vocal sites and related resources for vocalists plus an ever-growing database of Singing Tutors, Classes, Schools and Workshops.

Although these internet tutorials cannot replace practical experience or qualified singing tuition, we hope that both amateur singers and professional vocalists alike will use them to learn more about the art of singing in all its glorious forms ;-)”

Notation and scanning software

I have copies of Sibelius 7,  Photoscore, OMER, Harmony Assistant and the free version of Anvil Studio and my favourite player, MidiPlay. Sibelius will write Scorch files which can be read directly in your Internet browser. Here is a sample which I sequenced for Peter Grimes

Some of this software I find very tedious to use, particularly when producing midi files for learning. Most often I key in the notes manually. For music recognition I use SharpEye which makes a very accurate scan of sheet music and interprets it as a midi file, outputs as music xml of niff. It is very quick and has saved me hours of keying in. You can download an evaluation copy here. However, note that you should firstly take the midi into notation software for editing because they are not very usable as they are.

Perhaps my favourite all-round notation software is the French program Melody Assistant from Myriad Software. Note input is very easy and the consequent midi files are very accurate. This program will also output html pages which are more functional than those of Scorch.

Kay and Peter Bates are registered users of Music Publisher. This software comprises Notation and Music Character Recognition. The method of entering notes is as easy as ABC - literally! If you want the note A, just type A on your keyboard and it will appear on the stave. Thank you both. Try it here.

Here is another program which has been recommended. Noteworthy Composer Scriptorium.
The files are generally not midi but rather the native file format of NoteWorthy

The contributor told me that he has used this package for many years to prepare electronic versions for fellow choristers. There is a free reader, also a browser plug-in. He has no hesitation in recommending the full version at $39.

Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Other aids

For sheet music, try

To develop music theory and
ear-training skills with practical exercises go to www.teoria.com For experienced musicians as well as novices. You’ll be amazed at what you don’t know!
Excellent if you want to learn how to sight-read.

Isn’t it wonderful when you arrive at rehearsal to find that everybody is note-perfect? Equally, have you wasted time while the other sections (not yours, of course) do their note-bashing? Click here how to learn them.

Learning the notes

As a Junior, I was told ,”There’s no point in coming to see me to do your practice”. I discovered that if you didn’t know your notes before the concert, you certainly wouldn’t find them on the day. So learning the notes is fundamental before you can start to make the music.

Learning is sometimes very difficult. Almost the worst situation is having to perform a programme comprising perhaps ten works, all from different composers, styles and centuries. Learning a Mass or an Oratorio is helped because you know the format; a Kyrie, Gloria, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and so on. However, your Webmaster has sometimes found it difficult to learn Early Music owing to the lack of ‘geography’. Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium is typical. See opposite.

A modern way to learn is by listening to midi files (.mid) which can be downloaded from the Internet. Double-clicking on the file will make it play in your default player, usually Microsoft Media Player.
Alternatively, right-click and “Save as” so that you can store it and listen it on the player you decide.

Choose your media player

playswmIf you have Windows XP and Windows Media Player version 10 or more, you can slow down the tempo without altering the pitch. Click the logo to see how to use the Enhancements.

However, there are better ways to control  what you hear and to see the score at the same time. Consider these

aslink3A very good FREE program is ANVIL STUDIO. Click on the pic to download. Download the .mid and open it in AnvilStudio. To see your line, click the Instrument.
You might have to change the Style so as to show the correct stave eg. tenors need to choose Tenor 8.

MIDIPLAY10-40Another first class program is MidiPlay This is a free Windows program which allows musicians to play MIDI files and adjust the playback to help them to learn their parts. It shows the position in the score while it's playing the music. If you want to know how to use it, click the pic or here which will open the Learn Fauré pages. Whichever midi you use the principle is the same. Download MidiPlay

All links to midi sources are being reviewed.

Stuck for a mid file? Ask me Midi request

If you are using a Mobile there is an excellent App ‘Learn my part’ by Steve Tyler here. If you want to see what it offers and how to use it, go here.

If you are on Android try Midi Sheet Music (best of the bunch), Midi Instruments or ACT Piano. None of these is as good as ‘Learn my Part’. Steve Tyler has no plans to write the App for Andoid.

Leith Hill Music Festival 2016
Learning files. Division 3

1. Click this link to see the learning files for the men’s song, “The Coast of High Barbary” arranged by John Hall.

Here is a link to mp3 files in case you prefer them. Click this links below  to play the part enhanced version. Right-click to download. They will play on your Mobile.

Barbary Tenor 1
Barbary Tenor 2
Barbary Bass 1
Barbary Bass 2

2. Click this link to see the learning files for the Ensemble song “Fain Would I Change That Note” by Vaughan Williams.

You will need the Myriad Plug-in which you can download by following the instructions on the page. You can trust this plug-in.

Leith Hill Music Festival 2015
Learning files. Division 3

Learning midi files are available for most of the repertoire. Given sufficient interest, I will post the links to some of them here.

So far I have made from scratch a Virtual Singer version of O mistress mine by Eric Thiman.
Follow this link. You can play it either as it is or turn off the Virtual Voice to hear it as a piano-sequenced midi file. You will need a plug-in (perfectly safe) which you can install by following instructions. Sorry about the automatic repeat. There appears to be a bug which I am trying to sort out. Until then you will have to stop playback manually. Any problems, please e-mail me Bowite John


Leith Hill Music Festival 2014
Learning files. Division 3

Learning midi files are available for the following.

Duruflé - Requiem, request
Rutter - Feel The Spirit, request
Weelkes - In Pride Of May, here
Part Song
Chilcott- The Isle Is Full Of Noises
Vaughan Williams - Dirge For Fidele
Mozart - Thou Soul Of The Universe, here
Moeran - Irish Elegy, here

LHMF 2014 finished but links are left here for other singers wanting the files.


Midi sources (continued)

Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium

Go to www.brightonconsort.org.uk

I suggest that you use the “Spem in alium in 40 parts” file because I didn’t find that the individual choirs worked very well.

If you sit down to consider what Tallis is doing in Spem, you will discover the narrative which moves the whole work along and cements the sections together. Spem is probably his Masterwork. He accepted the challenge of showing how an English composer was more than a match for his Continental rivals. You will find counterpoint, harmony, syncopation all in Spem. If you stand back, you can see the form and why he needed eight choirs and forty voices!

There are six elements to the work but there is no break between them. There are Key Points which help tell you where you are, so listen for them.

Bars 1 to 25 “Spem in alium numquam habui”. Choirs enter in turn, contrapuntally.

Bars 25 to 45 “Praeter in te”.  A Key Point is bar 40 “prater in te” where the whole choir comes in with a bang (depending upon your conductor), preceded by a quiet bar.

Bars 44 to 65 “qui irasceris, et propitius eris”. A Key Point is bar 59, sops choir 4, where their top G tells you where you are.

Bars 65 to 87 “Et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis”. Key Point sops top G, bar 79 leads in to choirs 1 and 2 at bar 81.

Bars 87 to 108 “Domine Deus, Creator caeli at terrae”. All choirs are more often than not, in harmony. The “Domine Deus” is thrown from one group of choirs to another.

Bars 108 to end “respice, humilitatem nostram”. Key Key Point bar 108 where all choirs introduce the final section. Key Point bar 122 where all choirs are in harmony and build up together to the grand finale!

Counting the timing is probably the most important thing in Spem; it is not the notes which are difficult. You might not be able to hear clearly, choirs other than your own. If you have a metronome or use that in the AnvilStudio program, you might find dividing each bar into 8 beats will help a lot.

Once you’ve learned the notes you should be able to hear the music. I hope you will find this helpful and not just pretentious crap from an amateur musician. Who knows, had I done my practise regularly, I might have made professional. Any queries or comments, please contact John