Resources for rehearsal and practice
These resources are in three groups:
- Resources to purchase from companies providing CDs and MP3 downloads.
- Websites using free on-line rehearsal aids. Often these can also be downloaded to be used off-line.
- Websites with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files, which can downloaded and played in a suitable MIDI file player, and it can be a simple way of producing music on a computer.
In each case the website address is provided. The sites are checked from time to time, but if you find any that don’t work or you would like to add to the list, do let us know.
Resources to purchase
Music Dynamics/Choraline www.choraline.com
Choraline recordings are learning tools specifically created to help choral singers memorise their vocal line and practise between choir rehearsals. On the CD you hear a synthetic reconstruction of the music at a neutral tempo and dynamic featuring a voice over that provides helpful instruction in the form of count-ins and entry cues. Each voice part is represented in the foreground by the sound of a corresponding orchestral instrument – Soprano/solo flute, Alto/oboe, Tenor/french horn and Bass/bassoon. Recordings have been created in stereo sound with the voice part played separately through the left-hand speaker. Rehearsal recordings are available on CD (£11.99) and MP3 download (£7.99) for each voice part for most of the major SATB choral works. We can get a 10% discount on choir orders. Vocal scores are also available.
A similar service is provided by Notebash (through Alnwick Choral Society). CDs are designed to emphasise one particular line with the other voice parts played in the background. CDs cost £7.00.
Edition Peters www.edition-peters.com
Edition Peters supplies rehearsal CDs in a format similar to Notebash (see above).
Saffron Choral www.saffronchoralprompt.co.uk
Saffron Choral supplies rehearsal CDs and tapes for around £7, with additional copies of the same piece for around £5. Your part is sung at normal speed with a piano accompaniment, including cues from other voice parts to help with entries.
Partability create (to order, if necessary) specialist rehearsal CDs for practice at home, with the notes for a particular part emphasised.
Note Perfect www.noteperfect.net
Provides a means to learning the notes to choral music in an easy to grasp and enjoyable way. The orchestral or accompaniment parts on the recordings are quietened slightly with the vocal part highlighted on the piano. This is an extensive site, with both CDs and downloads. Worth a look!
Free on-line resources
Choral learning CDs and streaming audio of rehearsal scores if you like to sing to/with your computer! Extensive American based site, but the files only work on-line and you cannot download them. You can order CDs, but need to allow 1 – 2 weeks for postage. This site allows you to change the speed of the playback which can be very useful, and this feature works on computers, iPads and smartphones.
Choralia provides free training aids for choir members. Donations are appreciated and they are used to develop and maintain the site. The training aids are delivered in the form of audio files which can be either directly played on the PC or recorded on CDs. Alternatively, CDs are directly made by Choralia from the audio files and posted.
These can sound a little odd sometimes as they are computer generated, but you can clearly hear the words which helps you to keep track of where you are in the music.
Whilst you could download these tracks to play offline (right-click on one of the little ‘speaker’ icons), Choralia have recently added two compelling reasons to play them online!
- Replaying a selection: There is a bar with two sliders that enable you to play and replay a selection from a track – until you get it right!
- Slowing down a section: There is a second bar that can be used to slow down (or speed up!) a track – could be useful for all those items with rapid runs! Slow them down and check the notes.
Choralia have added this feature through advertising so feel free to ignore the adverts.
John Fletcher http://www.johnfletchermusic.org
John Fletcher’s website contains a large number of practice tracks for a wide range of choral music. For each work he provides MP3 tracks and MIDI files for each part, as well as a Tutti version. To use his files you have to create an account, which is free if you only need works that are not in copyright. To use files of copyrighted works you pay £10 p.a.
The Silvis Woodshed www.gasilvis.net
Most of these files have only the choral parts (no accompaniment) and are constant velocity (no dynamics). There is an extensive list of works available on the site.
Hymns Without Words www.hymnswithoutwords.com
This is a free resource for high quality recordings of hymns in MP3 format.
Many pieces of choral music are available in four part (SATB) ‘MIDI’ format, but you do need to check that the file version is the same as the one you need. You also must understand that you cannot generally play these on-line in a browser. You have to download them first and play them in a suitable MIDI file player.
John Hooper’s MIDI File Choral Music Site (www.learnchoralmusic.co.uk)
All files are in MIDI format with an ‘orchestral’ background, which must be downloaded in your part – SATB. Windows Media Player can be used to play the MIDI files, although this can be unreliable, or MIDI player software will give you better control over volume, tempo and pitch.
John Fletcher http://www.johnfletchermusic.org
This site was mentioned above as he provides MIDI files as well as the normal MP3s. There is an extensive collection of practice files here. See above more details.
The Royal Free Music Society www.rfms.org
This is an amateur group of mainly health care professionals based in and around the Royal Free Hospital. They have an archive on their website which is available to anyone and contains a large number of shorter choral pieces of music, including many church hymns and Christmas carols (100 Carols for Choirs) all in the MIDI format and in the four SATB parts.
American Choral Directors’ Association www.choralnet.org
A search on the site under ‘Resources’ and then ‘Technology for Choral Music’ reveals a comprehensive list of MIDI and MP3 file sites.