Digital solutions for choirs
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,009
    I have been muddling around with digital scores for my own work for sometime now. But the question is: does anyone use tablets for choirs or music scores for groups in a systematized way? What technology do you use? Loading onto tablets? Scores? etc...
    Inquiring minds want to know.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 322
    I have a few choir members that prefer to use their phones - they find them easier than the books. I provide a complete digital selection of all polyphony that we do; they use downloads of the LU for most of the chant that we do (there is some chant from other sources, in which case they use the books I've made for them). I just ask that if they use digital, they are able to make the markings needed for interpretational nuance (particularly applies to the chant).

    In a different group, one of my members used the tablet as a practice resource. Not only the sheet music, but all play-back files provided in a library that was set up for access to the group. So he could start the playback file and use his music on the iPad with earbuds for his own practice. He became amazingly versed for someone who started out not knowing how to read music when he joined the group.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,298
    I have a woman in my choir who digitizes everything. Everything is on her Ipad and organized in some systematic way. It is enviable. Her sons use Ipads too and they find everything quickly and efficiently. Let me know if you would like me to ask her if she would be willing to "talk" to you about it.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    Sheesh! My choir is still struggling with paper.
  • I started doing this for our small choir a number of years ago. Initially it was just three of us (myself, my wife and son) but a number of other choir members jumped on the bandwagon, and currently all but 4 members are using tablets of one kind or another. We have some people using iPads, some using Android tablets (either 8" or 10" screens) and two of us who are using Surface Pro devices (myself included). I create a PDF file that contains all of the songs and readings, with bookmarks to facilitate practice (when we don't do things in order), and the files are shared via Google Drive and can be downloaded to individuals' devices.

    It works quite nicely and is much easier than trying to find songs in a hymnal or binders. Contact me and I'd be happy to tell you more.

    Mike
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 638
    For people using tablets: have the tablets/app ever frozen, during rehearsal or Mass/performance?
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,118
    @CCooze A member of this forum was conducting a choir during Mass, and they were all following the music (Byrd Ave Verum) from a laptop perched on the gallery rail, Then the screen saver cut in and everybody had to sing from memory, it took a couple of bars for the screen saver to be cancelled.

    Members of the Schola Sanctae Scholatisticae were regularly seen singing from their iPads using the Liber App, and the tuning fork app.

    A professional musician that occasionally sings with our choir also sings from music on her iPad.

    The one advantage of singing from an iPad is the Easter Vigil and other candle lit services, you can always see the music.
  • Incardination
    Posts: 322
    For myself and my tired old eyes, I would need at least a 21 inch screen (diagonal) for it to be remotely feasible. That would give me two full pages side-by-side which is what I get with my books.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 638
    My iPad chooses to freeze at the most random times, so I'm not sure I'd be able to trust it.
    I've used my phone before, though, when I have been the lone cantor at some Mass or other, and forgotten my Gregorian Missal, or other Ordinary chants that are readily accessible on the internet.

    I know of at least a few semi-professional choirs in town where I can tell that at least 1 or 2 of the singers are using tablets, instead of sheet music. There's always that weird blueish glow on their faces...
  • I use my iPad for everything except my church choir job. I'd say that at this point probably more than 50% of the singers at every gig I do are using them, and no one I know has ever had an issue with battery death/freezing/whatever.
    I would recommend against using them at a service like Easter Vigil because the screen is just too bright and the light reflects onto people's faces, which would look weird in a totally dark church.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • At our Easter vigil service, we used tablets, but some people had the screen set to reverse video mode (black screen with white text/notes) which created less face glare. The rest of us just turned the brightness down to the minimum. Some of the people with sheet music binders had LED lamps attached, that created more back-scattered light than our tablets did.
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,409
    Errrmmmfff.....

    LIke CharlesW, I look askance at these, largely because many choir singers are not techno-savvy, and the privacy concerns (uploads/downloads) are growing.

    That aside, is there some non-incidental proof that one can "learn the line" by reading a PDF with a melody provided by computer?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    LIke CharlesW, I look askance at these, largely because many choir singers are not techno-savvy, and the privacy concerns (uploads/downloads) are growing.


    Agreed. At least half my choir doesn't even have e-mail addresses. Tablets? No way.
  • There are some solutions provided by Carus and other companies that superimpose the melody over a recording and the sheet music to help you learn your part. These tend to be more expensive than the score itself for just one of the parts, let alone all four/six.

    Technology can help us in many ways; I don't think this is one of them. Nothing beats a good old-fashioned paper octavo or book.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Incardination
    Posts: 322
    That aside, is there some non-incidental proof that one can "learn the line" by reading a PDF with a melody provided by computer?


    As with any other technique for learning music, success or failure depends on the person directly involved. Sol-fege, for example, is a wonderful tool... but some people put roadblocks in their own use of it preventing it from being successful in their own case. Similarly with learning music from part files. If people are determined to learn the part and use a part file, it works well. Where I typically see trouble is those people who don't really want to use the part file. Cyber-Bass and CC Watershed mainstream examples of success stories with part files.

    Technology can help us in many ways; I don't think this is one of them. Nothing beats a good old-fashioned paper octavo or book.


    While personally my preference is to have music in which I can write notes and which is sized for my eyes, I don't know that I can legitimately make that statement universally, expecting others to follow my personal preferences. Sometimes I read e-books although, again, I typically prefer a physical book.

    I would encourage us - as in so many other areas of music - to avoid looking at things as only having one solution or one valid approach. Technology CAN be very useful in so many ways. We all take advantage in a variety of ways - manuscripts online; CPDL; this forum; shared sites; group sites; etc..

    I'm not advocating the use of tablets per se - merely making the case that it is likely to be a decision that varies from group to group and even from person to person.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 575
    Not so much now, but in the near future, tablets (or their successors) will more than likely be all we have. As more and more books are published electronically, print will become more and more rare. At some point, it will become economically unfeasible to print books.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,490

    Agreed. At least half my choir doesn't even have e-mail addresses. Tablets? No way.


    Some of our TLM crew still have flip phones. Our OF cantor owns an iPad but not a cell phone.

    Churches be weird.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 759
    economically unfeasible to print books
    I hope we can rely on the Vatican to continue to insist on well printed and bound liturgical volumes for some time yet. There could be a nice cottage industry in paper making, printing and binding.
  • Carol
    Posts: 202
    Now wait a minute! (as Jack Benny used to say) I have a flip phone still. When I lose it or it breaks I will upgrade. I use Cyberbass and it has definitely improved my ability to read music. Since I have little formal training but a darn good ear, I would not be able to be in the local college/community choir without using Cyberbass for Mozart, Bach etc. Hearing my part highlighted, but in context with the other parts is invaluable. Our church organist pounds out just the line and often there is something in the accompaniment that makes awkward leaps easier. I have to ask the organist for the accompaniment sometimes when our section is struggling.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,409
    Hearing my part highlighted, but in context with the other parts is invaluable....often there is something in the accompaniment that makes awkward leaps easier. I have to ask the organist for the accompaniment sometimes when our section is struggling.


    THIS. Not to mention following a conductor, not a bouncing electronic ball....
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    I am not too worried about the disappearance of print. I remember attending conferences on "The Paperless Office," in the 1970s when I was a young federal employee. You know, that paper is still with us. If anything, we have more of it.

    Of course, the tablets might solve the problem of my choir hoarders who have multiple copies of every anthem in their folders. When I run out of music, I have to get in the folders and remove all the extra copies.

    Follow a conductor? Surely, you jest. They can't get their heads out of the books long enough for that.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,736
    First is electronic & digital "pipe organs" ... and now is electronic & digital "sheet music" ... is proliferation of similacra throughout music ... is Bolshevik outrage!!!
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,409
    I knew that eventually this would involve the Russkis.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    . is Bolshevik outrage!!!


    New calendarist heretics, no doubt!
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Carol eft94530
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,153
    I would not be able to be in the local college/community choir without using Cyberbass for Mozart, Bach etc. Hearing my part highlighted, but in context with the other parts is invaluable.


    You should check out "choralia.net"

    Everyone here should.

    Hundreds of recordings that include full pieces, as well as individual parts - alone and emphasized. And if you provide Massimo, the website operator, with the music you want the parts for (either sheet music or PDF), he'll set it up for you - all he asks is a small donation. It's a fantastic site.

    New calendarist heretics, no doubt!


    Charles, don't tell me that you're an Old Believer as well! Heavens, I don't think I've ever seen one of those outside of captivity . . .
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,736
    Massimo (a.k.a. Max to those of us who know him well) is a friend of mine, thanks to our work at CPDL (he is head of the IT group and treasurer at CPDL). He's a great gentleman, and great asset to the choral community at large.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975

    Charles, don't tell me that you're an Old Believer as well!


    Afraid not, although like many others our calendar is modified Gregorian with some dates for non-Christmas/Easter celebrations that don't mirror the west.

    The only "Old Believers" I encounter are the ones that go to the TLM.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,153
    I wouldn't mind one bit being lumped in with the Old Believers. They seem like good people, if a little on the hairy side. Both communities teach the same, very important lesson = be wary of archaeological revisionism.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    My understanding of the Old Believers, or "Old Ritualtists" as some call them, is that they were following the practices they were taught from 10th-11th century Constantinople. For example, two finger sign of the cross probably reflecting the God or man debates about Jesus from earlier times. There seemed to be many points of contention on something we now take for granted. Anyway, two-fingers reflecting the two natures of Christ as opposed to the later practice of three fingers emphasizing the Trinity.

    Long story short, a Russian patriarch who was fascinated with all things Greek wanted rituals and practices brought in line with later Greek practices, hence the battle royal. The Old Believers were following practices from an earlier time that were probably more authentic. The Russian patriarch was a revisionist like we have seen often in recent times. They are anointed by God to lead us out of error, or so they think. The lesson is to never allow such reformers into any position of authority.
  • Carol
    Posts: 202
    Charles, fascinating info about the sign of the cross- 2 vs. 3 fingers. I never knew there was any theological implication to this! Is this a point of controversy today, or is there an agreed upon hand position of which I am unaware? If so, I failed to educate scores of first graders on the finer points of the sign of the cross. Some of you who frequent this site are such a font of information. I went to public school (hence CCD) and my mother was a convert to Catholicism so I may have missed out on this when others did learn it. As the hardworking breadwinner of a very large family, my father was not delving into the finer points of theology when he was home. He did, however, provide a wonderful example of what it means to be a faithful and thoughtful Catholic to all his children and grandchildren. From my mother, I received a great respect and knowledge of Scripture.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    Carol, in the early centuries of Christianity, disputes raged round the Roman Empire about the two natures of Christ. Was he man with divine attributes? Was he Divine but not fully human. Could he only be divine because the body is evil? And on and on. After Christ as true man and true God was defined, the sign of the cross was made with two fingers to emphasize those two natures. If you see really old icons, you will notice the two fingers. BTW, the sign of the cross was made from right to left in both halves of the empire.

    Later, anti-trinitarian disputes arose (don't those Christians love to argue?). Eventually, three fingers were used to note the Trinity. Later icons reflect this. Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) explained: "The sign of the cross is made with three fingers, because the signing is done together with the invocation of the Trinity. ... This is how it is done: from above to below, and from the right to the left, because Christ descended from the heavens to the earth..."[7][10]

    The west went the way of making the sign from left to right, given their penchant for tinkering with the sacred that continues to this day. They never learn - LOL.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 759
    Carol: The Wikipedia article starts with a picture of the standard Byzantine method, and has a picture of an Old Believer gesture further down the page. I was told that the three fingers in the Byzantine method denote the Trinity and the two curled into the palm of the hand are the two natures of Christ united. That would have been an interpretation from the Finnish Orthodox (via my wife), and I adopted that. As a Latin Catholic I do not recall any such talk, I think we were told to keep the hand flat, but after 74 years my recollection has faded, along with my unquestioning obedience.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 575
    My St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism 0 (for 1st Communion) shows making the sign of the cross with the hand flat.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 202
    Thanks to you all! FYI, I have been retired from teaching since my "regional" Catholic school was closed by the "downtown bean counters." Funny about the left to right question- as a rookie teacher, I was advised by a veteran teacher to do it "wrong" facing my students who would then do it correctly. I never adopted that practice. Instead, I would turn my back to the class and make huge gestures so they could see my hand on my left shoulder first followed by my right shoulder. You CAN safely turn your back on first graders! Especially in September.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    I was told that the three fingers in the Byzantine method denote the Trinity and the two curled into the palm of the hand are the two natures of Christ united.


    That's how we easterners do it, but the two-fingered Old Believer method is older.

    At the Latin parish where I play, they follow the Alpha and Omega method. It's a big circle.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,153
    I was advised by a veteran teacher to do it "wrong" facing my students who would then do it correctly.


    Funny, they advised priests to start doing Mass that way after the Second Vatican Council. That couldn't have had any effect on 'inverting' their theological sensibilities, could it?
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,153
    So here's a thought that came up reading about the revisions to Russian Orthodoxy - the Old Believers had their processions clockwise, but after the changes they did it counter-clockwise. Is there any inherent symbolism to either way of processing? And for that matter, does (or did) the Latin Church have any specifications about which direction their processions were to take if they didn't just follow a straight line?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    The Latin Church has too many specifications and they are mostly in conflict with each other.

    Hadn't heard about the procession direction.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,153
    Our Church is a 'sign of contradiction', that's for sure.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    I used to say Satan kept the Anglican Communion together to prove a house divided against itself can stand. These days, I am not sure we are much different.

    Maybe we can rewrite the words to the noxious "Anthem."

    We are mean we are nasty
    We detest one another....
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • ChoirpartsChoirparts
    Posts: 140
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,975
    Must be a relative of Binny Hen the Scripture Chicken (Liturgical Mysteries).
    Thanked by 1Choirparts
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,409
    Not destined for Chick-Fil-A!
  • ChoirpartsChoirparts
    Posts: 140
    Ye olde hunt and peck method.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol