Thursday, August 21, 2008

How cool is this? ......

I am doing a recording of a short classical piece I wrote for a funeral of a friend last year, performed live at the service, called "Dona Nobis Pacem". This means "grant us peace" in Latin. It's a pretty little 2 1/2 minute piece for a cappella 5 part choir.

I'm doing it as overdubs, so each singer will come in and record separately. I started with sampling software called 'Symphonic Choirs', which has a program called 'Wordbuilder' that allows you to build a performance of a choir by adding each syllable to the text. The sample then responds with the appropriate note and vowel. I can't tell you how tedious the construction of this is, or how long it takes! I will say that with the right know-how (which I think I have), you can produce a choir that is quite convincing in an orchestral texture, and amazing but a little too synthetic sounding in an a cappella (no instruments) setting. Not good enough for a final though, in my opinion.

So I'm bringing in some singers to replace the symphonic choir samples.

The first singer, who sang three pieces for me last Thursday, had trouble staying with the track. Totally understandable - because it speeds up and slows down, like any good classical piece does. Of course, she's in another room so I can't really signal or conduct her. Plus even with visual communication, there's a lot to do in a recording session if you're behind the board. I dealt with the timing issues in editing...and it's fine...but then I came up with an idea.

I recorded myself with a video camera conducting the piece to the track that preexists (not the most up to date camera there, but it got the job done). Then I imported the video into my computer and synced it to the music, which I'm then going to send out to a regular TV. It'll be a little tricky because the firewire bus tends to get overloaded when sending video and audio, but I'll figure it out (maybe I'll figure out how to run the video from a 2nd computer and sync it to the 1st). That way the other singers will be able to follow my conducting, and see the tempo variations. The video like the music, is random access, meaning you can start from anywhere virtually instantaneously.

A conductor is so much better than a click, because you also see the space in between the beats. Also a lot of the stuff you say to a performer to get the music shaped correctly is expressed in the physical gestures, so you have to spend less time explaining things.

click to enlarge

Anyway, the screen capture above is the Digital Performer environment, which includes a still picture of the movie of me conducting. Also in the picture is the mixer controls and sound wave data for existing tracks.

Now there are two of me...I'll be able to run the controls while another one of me will do the conducting.

Is that amazing or what!!!???!!!

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