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Topic: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

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  1. #1
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    A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    This is a commissioned work I completed a year ago. The church that commissioned it selected the hymns but I had the right to reject any that I thought would not fit into a three movement work. Everything had to be easy to learn and perform. They requested a piece for choir, handbell choir, trumpet, trombone, and piano.

    The sound files still need more work. A PDF of the score is included if you want to follow the lyrics or the music. If you put it in a separate window you can follow the score and listen to the music at the same time. For some reason Box says the 3rd movement is 9 minutes long but it is only 5. As always comments and suggestions are appreciated.

    Music
    https://www.box.com/s/fa80909e6c05eae9cb54

    Score
    https://www.box.com/s/c5e5fe692e7f0260310f

    Norman

  2. #2

    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Quote Originally Posted by jandjnelson View Post
    This is a commissioned work I completed a year ago. The church that commissioned it selected the hymns but I had the right to reject any that I thought would not fit into a three movement work. Everything had to be easy to learn and perform. They requested a piece for choir, handbell choir, trumpet, trombone, and piano.

    ...For some reason Box says the 3rd movement is 9 minutes long but it is only 5...

    Norman
    Really nice set, Norman. And a commissioned work! Excellent - more power to you for actually making some money with your talents. Music for churches seems to be quite a market for arrangements and original work now, so it's a nice, big market for those so inclined.

    Are those the Hand Bells from GPO? The Piano sounded different from the GPO Steinway for some reason-- ?

    Are you making the recordings for your own use, or for demonstrating to church music directors? I would say that the choir samples could come down, and the piano could come up. There's a limit to how much production you would want to do on this though, isn't there? I mean, it's a case where the arrangements themselves are the main point. As long as the recordings are clear enough, you should be fine. I would bring the choir down and reduce the reverb on them.

    About the MP3 which is almost twice as long as it should be - This often happens when people export directly from a notation program and just trust that the file has turned out correctly. There are hidden measures out beyond the actual end, or stray notes - some kind of data that makes the software think that's the length of the piece. This happens with DAW software too when users try to automate their exports too much and don't pay attention to the length chosen in the time line.

    If you would use a sound editing program, even the totally free Audacity is an excellent tool, then you can bring in your .wav file exports (never export as an MP3!), correct volume as needed, touch anything up you want, and of course trim silence at the beginning and/or end if needs be. After you've mastered your file like that, then it's time to make the MP3 copy for sharing online.

    Thanks for posting the music.

    Randy

  3. #3
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    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Thanks Randy,

    Everything is GPO4 or Garritan Instruments for Finale except the less bright choir Ahs. They appear at times in the first and third movements when I needed very gentle attacks. After the tutti at the end of the first movement the first phrase of the hymn is repeated three times. The first time is the Ahs that have always come with Finale mixed with some Garritan Oos, this is followed by the brighter Garritan Ahs with some Oos, and the last phrase is only Garritan Oos. The second movement is all Garritan Ahs and Oos blended so that soprano and tenor have more Ah than Oo and the alto and bass more Oo than Ah. I did this so that I could follow the various lines easily. If anyone reading this has some ideas for blending choir sounds I would like to hear from them. I treated the choir like an orchestra and tried to pick the best colors and blends for each part of the music while keeping the words in mind.

    The piano comes from GPO4. It is not the Authorized Steinway. The handbells are GPO4. If you have never written for handbells, it is quite a challenge to be certain everything is playable and in this case memorizable since only the conductor of the 6 handbell players could read music.

    I plan to play with ambiance, panning, and other mixing items now that I have moved everything to Logic Pro. I enjoy soloing one or more lines and trying to find the best blend of wet and dry sound that I can. However, what sounds really good through my Shure headphones often loses detail and sounds brittle through my computer speakers, so I wind up compromising.

    Finally, if the development team ever needs an additional person to beta test a choir package I would like to volunteer. I have nine movements, all notated in Finale, in different tempi and styles that I would use.

    Norman

  4. #4

    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Quote Originally Posted by jandjnelson View Post
    Thanks Randy,

    Everything is GPO4 or Garritan Instruments for Finale except the less bright choir Ahs...

    The piano comes from GPO4. It is not the Authorized Steinway. The handbells are GPO4. If you have never written for handbells, it is quite a challenge to be certain everything is playable and in this case memorizable since only the conductor of the 6 handbell players could read music.

    I plan to play with ambiance, panning, and other mixing items now that I have moved everything to Logic Pro. I enjoy soloing one or more lines and trying to find the best blend of wet and dry sound that I can. However, what sounds really good through my Shure headphones often loses detail and sounds brittle through my computer speakers, so I wind up compromising.

    Finally, if the development team ever needs an additional person to beta test a choir package I would like to volunteer. I have nine movements, all notated in Finale, in different tempi and styles that I would use.

    Norman
    Hello again, Norman - Thank you so much for the detailed reply.

    I'm still not clear on why you want to further develop the recordings of this and maybe other pieces. Are you wanting to provide demos of your arrangements to more music directors, putting your best foot forward with the sound quality? I think that's what you're doing - Here are my thoughts, centering on the necessity of using choir Ahs and Ohs samples:

    --There's such a limit on how effective choir samples can be. Unlike the other instruments which can sound close to "the real thing," everyone knows that these unrealistic Ahs and Ohs are only there in recordings to give a mere suggestion of what the choir arrangement sounds like.

    Because of that situation, I'm not so sure your complicated layering of various vocal samples is worth your while. It still comes down to an unconvincing quasi-choir unable to sing the words of the hymns. I feel that to simplify that, and to just let the bare Ahs from one sample set would be just as effective in demonstrating your arrangement.

    One solution I've seen people use for this same problem is to forgo the use of choir samples entirely, and to have woodwinds fill in for the SATB lines - Like Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon, for instance.

    In any case, I do feel that in this present recording, the choir is out of balance with your other instruments. It should come down and the piano up for a more satisfying result.

    That Steinway in GPO can sound just fine really. Maybe because it's so low in this mix, I didn't recognize it. But those Hand Bells sound just great! I've only heard them rarely used - they're great, and I can see it would be a challenge to write for them, making sure that what you're doing is actually possible to be performed.

    Mixing on headphones indeed has its limitations. With the sound playing directly in our heads that way, we're getting no conception of how the same music will sound when played in a room which introduces its own aural artifacts, along with the capabilities of the speakers we use. Losing some definition, as you said, is exactly what always happens. So it's best to do your mixing with some sessions using phones, others using speakers when its practical. Naturally we're often using headphones to avoid disturbing the household or neighbors.

    Becoming involved with Beta testing Libraries seems to be done on an invitation basis. It seems like it wouldn't hurt to directly contact Chad who's a leader on the development team, and expressing your interest. Chad posts once in awhile here at the Forums, he has a current post in General Discussion.

    As for the much-anticipated Garritan Choir, I have to say I haven't heard anything about it for quite awhile. I imagine it will still be developed, but there's no current word on that which I'm aware of.

    Randy

  5. #5
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    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Randy, Thanks again for your help.

    The reason I was working on a higher quality recording of this piece was that the church would like to use the work again in a couple of different ways and I agreed to try to help them. The original performance hit the limit of their resources in people and rehearsal time. They want a version that uses one male and one female soloist to sing the hymn melodies while all the other instrumental and choir parts come from a recording. Churches do this kind of thing a lot with music of a more "pop"style. Your idea of scoring the choir parts for instruments might be the perfect solution for this version. Because, carefully chosen instruments can double the melodies and not obscure the singers diction better than choir "Ahs" can. Also, instruments can be chosen that compliment the meaning of the words.

    They also want a version to accompany a slideshow. If the two soloists version works well a recording of it might work well. Since all of the melodies will be in the recording, the purely instrumental version might work too.

    Again thanks for your help and I'll touch up the balance before I start orchestrating. I need to improve my skills at mixing anyway.

    Norman

  6. #6

    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Hello Norman, thanks for posting this! Though I only have time to listen to the first movement this morning, I can already say you do great arranging for handbells! I used to play in a handbell choir for years, and this is just splendid to hear. I had a great listen this morning, thanks again for sharing!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
    soundclick page

  7. #7
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    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Quote Originally Posted by sanyarem View Post
    Hello Norman, thanks for posting this! Though I only have time to listen to the first movement this morning, I can already say you do great arranging for handbells! I used to play in a handbell choir for years, and this is just splendid to hear. I had a great listen this morning, thanks again for sharing!
    Thanks Michael,

    I found that actually pretending to perform each player's part made it a lot easier to avoid really awkward passages for any individual. When you can, listen to the 3rd movement where the handbells are played with mallets. This worked really well in the first performance. I used some channel EQ and ambiance to try to imitate the mallet sound.

    Norman

  8. #8

    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Hello again, Norman!

    I had time to listen to both the 2nd and 3rd movements this afternoon. I really enjoyed the contrast between the brightness of the 2nd movement and the much mellower 3rd. I think you got the balance of the bells in the 3rd movement spot-on for being played with mallets! The attack of each chord still sounds much like a rung bell in the higher registers, but the overall effect is there. I wouldn't even know where to begin to give you advice for mellowing out the attacks (apart from adjusting the attack level itself), as that is not really my strong-suite, but I do know these sorts of tricks are essential for getting the best use out of percussion instruments (handbells included). There are so many different possible combinations of mallets/sticks, strokes, materials, and what-have-you to use with percussion that it is absurd to expect a sound library to have it all, so it is great to figure out ways to tweak what you have to make it resemble what you want

    Thanks again for sharing!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
    soundclick page

  9. #9

    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    I listened through all three movements this evening, Norman.
    Nicely done!

    There's a certain implied delicacy to these that is, in its way,
    restful; and while I hear you struggling with the technology,
    I think the suite will perform well.

    Best,



    David
    -----
    David Sosnowski
    www.DavidSosnowski.com

  10. #10
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    Re: A Celebration with Hymns of Praise and Prayer

    Thanks David,

    Except for a couple of missed entrances by the trumpet player (who missed the dress rehearsal) the performance went very well. The choir and handbell choir were especially well prepared.

    Norman

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux View Post
    I listened through all three movements this evening, Norman.
    Nicely done!

    There's a certain implied delicacy to these that is, in its way,
    restful; and while I hear you struggling with the technology,
    I think the suite will perform well.

    Best,



    David
    -----
    David Sosnowski
    www.DavidSosnowski.com

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