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Author:  Juan Brasch

Abstract: Small tutorial on ‘HOW’ to create a “STUDY” CD for a choral group, with comments & other suggestions as posted on the Myriad BBS.
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 score.

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 volume.                              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 luck!

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 following:
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.

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