And then there was music

Pentecost 2016

Here is something really exciting for Pentecost. I’ve at last managed to assemble a full set of samples of all the tunes in the tunebook and have just put them on Soundcloud .  If you click on ‘Soundcloud’ in the picture below, the link should take you there.

It has been quite difficult puzzling out how Soundcloud works. Even by web standards, it is not easy to find what you are looking for in its help pages. As so often, you can only find what you’re looking for if you already know the answer, when with hindsight it almost becomes obvious. Likewise, when you do find the instructions, they only make sense when you already know what they are trying to say. What is it about IT people that they seem even less able than the rest of us to be able to imagine themselves into the minds of those who are more ignorant than they are?  Anyway, please let me know if the link doesn’t take you there.

About the tunes

The tunes are batched in playlists by metre in the same way as in the tunebook, except that,

a. Because Soundcloud does not seem to allow one to have a playlist with only one tune in it, where a tune is the only one currently in the tunebook in a metre, I have either moved it to the nearest similar category, e.g. 888 888 D has been included in 888 888 section, or added it to the Peculiar and Unique Metres section, and

b. Soundcloud seems to have decided that it knows better than I do in what order I want to list the playlists and tunes. So far, I have not been able to find any way of re-ordering tunes in alphabetical order or playlists in a rational order once it has decided to list them in whatever order it has mysteriously chosen for me.  If somebody out there knows a way of changing this, please tell me as I’d like to know.

You may be able to pick up from this that although I’m grateful to Soundcloud for providing the facility it offers, my admiration is well short of unconditional.

How to use the tunes

The idea behind these samples is to give a quick an easy impression of what each tune could sound like. I do not recommend using them to accompany your actual singing. Because of the way they have been constructed, their timing is too rigid to use them that way. They will sound much better if you play them on proper instruments.

You are very likely to feel that my settings of many of these tunes are either too fast or too slow. Do you do not have to follow my arrangements.  Just  use the samples as a source for good ideas and interesting possibilities.

How they were recorded

Be assured. No genuine musical instrument was harmed in the making of any of these samples. They have been made by importing midi versions of sheet music into Apple Garageband and then allocating suitable instruments to the various tracks.

I use MuseScore for preparing sheet music. Rather than use the tunes in hymn format as they appear in the tunebook, I have split them into their four separate parts. If one exports the four line version from MuseScore as a midi and opens it in Garageband, one then has the four separate lines as separate tracks in Garageband that one can work with. Usually, I then allocate a software instrument with a distinctive sound to each line, e.g. Soprano – flute, Alto – fiddle, Tenor – Bassoon, Bass – Trombone. It is quite a good idea to vary these, as for example, Soprano – trumpet, Alto – Alto flute, Tenor, clarinet, Bass, cello. Garageband also enables one to add drum tracks and assorted loops, though they tend to work better with the more folk style tunes, particularly those with fewer parts.

This goes back to something I learnt from the West Gallery Music Association. When music is written in four parts, if one can manage it, it sounds best, and is more fun, to sing it in four parts.  If a different instrument plays each part, it makes it easier to sing as one can then follow the instrument that goes with your line.

Garageband comes with a number of software instruments. My personal preference is to pick a single instrument, e.g. trombone, rather than trombone section. One can also find quite a few software instruments on the web, many of which are even free. Unfortunately instruments seem to appear and disappear from availability suddenly and unpredictably. For example, Apple at one time provided several Jam Packs of extra instruments.  These are no longer sold, but from time to time some of them or revisions of them seem to be added back into Garageband with its updates. There are two other sets of software instruments that I have found particularly useful which do not appear to be available any more. There’s also quite a lot of mystery as to where some of the ones that are available originally came from. So it would be difficult and confusing to list them.  Names that are current that I would like to express my appreciation for include Sforzando by Plogue Art et Technologie and Polyphone by David Triponney which are both software which I have found helpful in taming assorted sound font files and making them usable. I would also like to commend Patrick’s Garage Band Guide youtube site, https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGaragebandGuide/featured . Apart from good tutorials on some of the mysteries of Garageband itself, he gives good advice on plugins for managing the sounds one is making.

Some suggestions to listen to

What you like or dislike is bound to be personal to you, but twelve suggestions for things to try first are:-

Old 50th
Domine Probasti
Northrop
Third Mode Melody
Old 107th.
She moved through the Fair
Old 122nd
Old 113th
Slievenamon
Old 112th Coxe
Sweet Sacrament
Sûo Gan

If you want a tune to repeat, click the little circle with a 1 in it at the bottom left of the screen.

What comes next

All the tunes now exist in MuseScore format both in hymn style, as in Books 1-6 and the tunebook, and in four part harmony. So the other aspiration remains to make the tunes available in a format where those of you with music notation software can load and play around with them. MuseScore is not one of the formats that WordPress accepts, but nor does it accept  any of the others. So I cannot make them available as downloads from this site. If you use MuseScore, then once I can solve that problem, I can make zipped versions available of the MuseScore files fairly easily.

There is also a more universally openable music notation format known as xml. Hymnary.org uses it. It is quite bulky. MuseScore can open that format, and can save to it.  I do not know which other programmes can. Although I have not started doing this yet, and it will involve quite a lot of work, I am looking at the feasibility of producing the complete suite of MuseScore files converted into this format. It would be useful to know whether you, as readers and users of this site, would find this useful.

There are still a few canticles that I have started to versify or intend to. I already have some additional tunes ‘in the freezer’ to set them to.

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