Abstract: Small tutorial on ‘HOW’
to create a “STUDY” CD for a choral group, with
comments & other suggestions as posted on the Myriad
The first thing you must have is a Choral Score in a " .MID" or "
.MUS" format, which you can see, play & edit in MA. You must
have each voice S,A,T,& B in a different staff, and if you have
a piano (ensemble, orchestra) accompaniment, it should be in
its own staves too. Make sure you are comfortable with the way the
score 'plays' (tempo, fermatas, repeats, dynamics, etc.) I do not
necessarily recommend that you have it working with Virtual Singer,
but if you desire, you can use it. If so, make sure that VS is in
the correct language, that your singer is singing in the correct
tessiture and for instance the Bass is not 1-2 octaves lower or the
Tenor 1-2 octaves higher... etc. OK, you now have a good choral
The object of making a STUDY CD for one of the voices, is that the
person in that section of your choir, can CLEARLY hear their voice
from among the rest of the musical texture, so they can follow it
and learn it. There are several ways of doing this.
First, of course, you can mute (inactivate) all voices, except the
one you want to hear and this would be perhaps the most direct and
forward way to record it. But this is not the way a person hears
things in a choir, that person is surrounded by the other voices
and accompaniment, so it makes sense to try to duplicate this
environment on the study track. So the other way I like to do this,
is to set all voices to the "Choir Ahs" instrument and have ONLY
the voice I want to stand out set to another very distinct
instrument, like for instance "English Horn" (or have only this
voice be sung by VS!!). If there is a piano accompaniment, I
usually leave it as a piano.
I then go to the Mixer and turn down the volume of the
accompaniment and the 'other' voices to about 1/3 – 1/2 of
the maximum and set the 'study' voice to almost full
Test it and make sure you don't have distortions. Use the Master
Volume to adjust things so you do not get distortion peaks.
IMPORTANT TIP: Listen to the 'study' part, follow it on the score
and make sure there are no errors. Once you burn the CD, you will
have to do it all over again if you detect errors then... so better
spend a bit of time checking your work before the burn!!
The 'study' voice should stand out clear and very distinguishable,
but you should be able to hear the general choir &
accompaniment texture in the background. You may have to
experiment with some other instruments if you do not like the above
sound mixture, but I have found it to be satisfactory. Once you are
satisfied with the first voice, all you have to do, is repeat the
procedure with the other 3. Set the voice back to "choir ahs" and
use a new study voice with the "English horn" repeat the volume
settings that worked before... they will usually work consistently
with all voices.
OK now we are ready to prepare the 'burning'. To burn a CD, you
will need a program that can do this. I use & recommend NERO
BURNING from Ahead software. AND you will need to have your files
in a " .WAV" format.
With your score open, you will have to convert each voice to a
'.wav' file. To do this you will Use the "FILE-Export-Windows WAV"
command and the tune will be exported as a WAV file.
Prepare a folder for the export. I have one for Soprano, another
for Alto, another for Tenor and one for Bass. Then I set the
Soprano track to "English horn" the rest to "Choir Ahs" and export.
Then I do the same for Alto, Tenor and Bass. Each 'exported' file
goes into the corresponding prepared folder. Now you do the
same thing for the next tune/score on your program, and repeat the
process until you have all the tunes, separated by voice and
exported to "WAV" format.
Then you Use your Nero Burning software to "COMPILE" a new Audio
CD. Suppose your are going to start with the Soprano CD: you will
drag and drop the tunes from the Soprano WAV files in the order you
want them to be on the CD and finish the 'burn'.
Repeat for the rest of the voices. You should end up with 4 CD's,
one for each voice. If you use these as "MASTERS" you can now
duplicate them so each of the members of your choir can use them to
learn their parts. Make labels with the track order so people can
find a specific tune easily. Many people use the time they are in
the car driving back & forth to work to study their music.
Having one tune per track makes it easy to jump to another tune or
repeat the one you need most work on.
I hope this helps. If you have any specific questions, I will
be glad to try to answer them.
Have fun... and good
I forgot to comment another little trick. If you don't necessarily
want to end un with 4 CDs (one for each voice) and your singers
have a pretty good musical ear, i.e. they don't need to have
absolutely 'separated' voices to follow, you can do the
Set all 4 voices to the same instrument either "Choir Ahs" or
"English Horn" but we will play with the Mixer settings. Leave the
volume setting equal for all voices, but not too loud... somewhere
between 1/3 and 2/3 of the maximum volume is OK.
Now comes the interesting trick:
Set the HIGH voices (Soprano & Tenor) to PAN stereo RIGHT and
the LOW voices(Alto & Bass) to PAN stereo LEFT. Export the file
to the .WAV format and burn the CD.
Now while playing the CD, the choir member can adjust their
speakers more 'left' or 'right' so their high or low voice becomes
more dominant, while they can still listen to the rest of the choir
context. This is a less effective, but faster solution; however as
said above, it requires your choir singers to have a good ear to
pick out their voice among the rest.