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Using Melody Assistant For Rehearsing Choral Music

Most Personal Computers can synthesise various instruments and play music. The synthesiser uses a language called “Midi”, the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, to identify the instrument, the note, its volume and length. Music recorded in this form takes a minute fraction of the computer space than an analogue recording takes. Midi cannot reproduce the human voice pronouncing words, but it can reproduce the choral “aah” or play the vocal lines with distinctive instruments.Click on the following headings to go directly to that section

Finding Choral Midi Files

Choral music files can be found on the internet using www.google.com and searching for the words "choral midi" (without the double quotes). This points to a large number of sites, so add the composer’s surname to the search words to narrow it down. The most comprehensive site is The Silvis Woodshed at www.channel1.com/users/gsilvis. This gives you an index to all the composers’ works available at that site. These tend to contain only the choral sections, often the accompaniment is only included for bars when there is no choral singing (for copyright reasons). Click on the work you want.

On Windows :

  • If it is a small file it will be transmitted to your Windows temporary internet file folder and will start playing using the Windows Media Player. To save the file for future rehearsing you will need to use the Windows Media Player to save it in your music folder (click on the Windows Media Player “File” then click on “Save As” and give it the folder and file names

  • If it is a large work it will be retrieved as a compressed file and you will be asked if you want to store it or execute it - choose to store it in a (new) folder called music in MyDocuments so that you can find it easily later. This will then download a "zip" file containing the numbers of the score that the chorus sing. These are numbered as printed in the score ­ but this may depend on who published the score you are using (the American numbers for Haydn Creation are one less than shown in the English score)

  • If it was a zip file then it needs to be "unzipped" before you can use it. For this you will need a freeware program such as Ultimate Zip (available from http://www.ultimatezip.com/download.htm) or a shareware program like Winzip or Zipmagic.

On Macintosh:

  • Just download the file by a long click on the link. The file is available on the "download folder" you defined in your browser's setup.
  • If the file doesn't have the .mid extension but  for example the .zip, .hqx,.sit extension, drag it on the StuffIt Icon to decode it.

Playing a piece

  • open the piece of music with Ctrl+O (command + O on Macintosh), select the music folder, set the “Files of type” to Midi and it will then display all the midi pieces in the folder. Click on the piece required and press OK. You can also use  "File>Import>Midi"
  • press the space bar to start from the beginning or to stop the playback
  • click on the pause button  instead of the space bar if you want to resume playing later from that point. Click on the pause button again to resume

To play a number of bars repeatedly

to repeat just a few bars move the cursor to the bar number above the staves, click on the bar you want to start from and drag the cursor to the last bar number you want (this highlights the selected bars), click on the “play only the selected bars” button  and then press the space bar to start/stop the playback

To start playing from a specific bar

if the bar you want to start from is not displayed drag the slider button with the bar number in at the bottom of the screen  until the bar is displayed
right click on the bar heading for the bar you want to start from  at the top of the window, click on “Set and reset play mark” and then press the space bar to start playing from that point. You will need to turn the play mark off to start right from bar 1 again

To vary the playing speed

click on Score, click on General tempo ­ this will display the current tempo as the number of quarter notes per minute. Make a note of the existing tempo before you change it so that you can change it back later
change the number by either typing in a new number, or by sliding the blue slider button left or right

To emphasise a voice

  • if the “vol/pan” panel is not displayed then click on Windows, Mixer and then either Small mixer or Complete mixer (the small mixer takes up less space on the screen, the large one is easier to use if you are not used to the using the mouse). If the panel covers the line you are following it can be dragged to a different part of the screen by clicking on the blue bar at the top of its panel
  • the Vol knobs  can be turned by using the mouse to drag them round to increase or decrease the volume for each stave. Hence you can increase the volume of your own voice register to maximum and reduce the others to less than half
  • the Pan knobs can be used to move your voice register to the right speaker and other voices to the left speaker or vice versa

To show the notes actually playing

click on Configuration, Global setup, Play, and ensure that the “Scroll music while playing” is checked and that “Page after page” is checked and then click on OK

To listen to a particular note

  • click on the button  and the cursor will then change to a hammer
  • click on the note in the score

Saving your changes

if you always make the same changes every time you play a piece then you can save it by clicking on File and Save as and either replace the original or add to the name if you want more than one version. Replace the “.mus” with “.mid” at the end of the name so that it is saved in midi format
To export your file in MIDI format you can also use "File>Export>Midi"

Changing the synthesiser voice for a stave

Usually choral music is computerised with a choral Aah for the choral staves and with piano for the accompaniment. Sometimes all the staves are recorded as piano; to change the choral staves to choral aah
  • left click on the  to the left of the stave. This will display a menu of options

  • click on the “Edit related instruments”

  • In the “Set” column click on “Ensemble” and then in the “name” column click on “Choir Aahs”

  • Click on “OK”


To set the metronome on or off click on the 

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