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Vocal Arts

Using Cyberbass midis to learn your part

This page provides instructions for using the midi files at Cyberbass.com to help you learn your part for our upcoming Community Chorus concerts.

Below are links to the midis for our Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 concerts:

What is a midi file?

Choral learning midis are digital audio files that play back a simplified version of a particular movement or number in order to help singers learn their notes. The advantage of working with the Cyberbass midis is that they allow you to hear your part by itself as many times as you need to in order to learn it. You can also slow down the files to make sure you are hearing each note correctly and using the correct rhythm when you sing.

Cyberbass.com splits out each movement into a separate file for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, and often includes separate files for divisions within a part (e.g., tenor 1 and tenor 2). The site also provides a tutti file that plays all the parts together.

Playing back the files

These files are not downloadable. If you use the free online links to listen to your part, you must use the player provided within the browser window. However, the built-in player will allow you to slow down the playback as much as you need to so that you can clearly hear each note.

Please note that the speed controls on the player have changed since last fall. Instead of typing in a decimal number to indicate the speed, you now type in a percentage number (e.g., if you put 50 in the speed box and then click the link for your part, you will hear the file at 50% of performance speed). Remember, you must always type in the speed first and then click the link for your part on the movement you want to practice. If you want to change speeds, type in the new speed number, and click the link again.

Recommended rehearsal strategy

Start by playing the file for your part at a reduced speed.  Sing with the file slowed down until you hit every pitch and rhythm correctly.  Then gradually speed up the file until you are singing accurately at 100% of performance tempo.

Next, try to sing your part while playing the tutti file.  Practice this until you are able to stay on your line successfully without being distracted by the other parts.

Finally, practice singing your part while playing the recommended recording.  It is often more difficult to remain accurate while hearing other voices than just hearing instrument pitches!  Go back and forth between the recording and the midi until you feel confident about your notes.

Differences between the midi and the score

This semester there should be relatively few pitch and rhythm discrepancies between our scores and the midi files. However, be aware that the midi recordings *never* hold on the fermatas — and there are a lot of fermatas in this work.  Also, if the tempo slows down in the middle of the piece (moving from an allegro to an adagio, for instance), the midis typically do not slow down.  In these cases, working with the midis will still help you learn the pitches, but you must watch the conductor for the timing.

Also, the midis tend not to observe the dynamic markings in the score, so sections meant to be sung at pianissimo play back at the same volume as sections meant to be sung at forte. You will need to listen to recordings recommended by Dr. Keating to get a better sense of what the sound levels should be.

Updated 1.28.2011