Peter's Blog

Harvest Virtual Choir Planning

Written by Peter Johnston on .

You have the chance to join in for a harvest thanksgiving choral anthem. We would like to create our own version of John Rutter's "Look at the World". This is an anthem the Ferryhill Singers have sung before and we look forward to creating a virtual choir rendition.

If you do not know the anthem, you can listen to versions online such as this one: https://youtu.be/otw_zbhd3gE

Choral Instructions

At our Zoom discussion for this one there were a few things highlighted to keep in mind for the singing of the piece.

Where a verse is marked "CHILDREN (or SOPRANOS)" then all female voices.

Clear diction is very inportant and pay particular attention to the end of lines (Kevin has tried to give you this direction in the conductor tracks) but usually we are looking at a clear end of a note on the first beat of the next bar. The key exception to this is the last bar of each verse before the refrain where there is a crotchet rest (half a beat in this time signature) to get a good breath before the refrain.

In the refrain we really want the "...we may see:" to extend into "All the gifts we share," and then snatch a breath. Because there is movement in the harmony for altos and tenors it is important for sopranos and basses to hold on to "see".

Watch the big leaps in notes, trying to make those as crisp and clean (no sliding of notes) between them.

We are following all the instructions relating to dynamics as written so look out for those. A particular highlight is the refrain after verse 3 to ensure you sing that as smoothly and delicately as you can. We hope we can drop the accompaniment for that refrain in the final edit.

Finally, note that the refrain is slightly different for the final time and that the accompaniment does slow at the end, but not overly so. Listen to it a few times to get the change of tempo there. And then on the final "thee" it is just held for two beats, stopping singing as the final chord of the accompaniment begins - don't hang on to it too long.

Resources

Kevin Haggart, our organist and music director, has created a number of audio files to guide you with each part. We have also put together five conductor videos that you can use to watch (and listen) while recording yourself to try to keep ourselves together as we bring our individual parts together.

Full Audio Guide Track

A version with all voices for you to listen to is available here. We would recommend you listen to this a few times to get the feel for the anthem.

 

Choir

The musical score is available here.

A conductor track for the whole choir is available here: https://youtu.be/FS9ggIMlYjE

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

The Soprano Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/M6WtKB0kQVk

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

The Alto Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/pu1eFFvlW5g

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

The Tenor Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/___52XAuDJE

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

The Bass Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/QUfLKJrIn4w

Technical Instructions

We recommend having a good few practice sing throughs before you film yourself and then when you’re ready to go, you can record yourself by playing the audio track through headphones on a device other than the one you are recording on. This way, the recording will only pick up your lovely singing! (I personally found it easier to only have one headphone in my ear so I could hear myself singing better, but that’s just personal preference!)

Do as many takes as you need – I know I have never once got it right the first time! And remember: even if it sounds a little weird to hear your voice on its own, when everything is edited together it will sound beautiful! You may want to find a spot where you can stand to sing to help your breathing.

A couple of little notes about filming: if possible, try to film somewhere quiet and well-lit (ideally with you facing a window) so that the videos look lovely! Please film landscape instead of portrait – it is so much easier to edit everything together if the videos all have similar proportions. Lastly, please keep recording until the music finishes! This just means that we don’t have some people’s videos cutting out way before others’ and means we’ll have a better finished video.

The Cue Clap: for this song we would ask you to clap on the first beat of the sixth bar of the introduction. This has been marked on the score in each of the conductor video tracks.

While we can absolutely have people film on their phones/tablets, recording using Zoom itself results in a much smaller file which is more manageable (both for sending the file and for editing the video together). If you are recording using Zoom on a laptop or desktop computer note that there is a new version with some enhanced features that is just now available so you may want to go back to their website (https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting) and download the client and install it so you have the latest version.

Once you have done this, open up the Zoom programme and on the home page click on the wee gear icon in the top right corner. This takes you to "Settings". Then click on the Audio option on the left column.

  1. Click the "Advanced" button at bottom right of the Settings window and check the box to Show in-meeting option to "Enable Original Sound" from microphone.
  2. Leave the Echo cancellation option on "Auto".
  3. Check the box for "Disable echo cancellation"
  4. Check the box for "High fidelity music mode"
  5. (If you have a stereo microphone you can also check the box for "Use stereo audio").
  6. When you then go to record your session on Zoom ensure that you have clicked the link at top left hand corner that would say "Turn on original sound" so that it illuminates in blue and says "Turn off original sound" - it is a bit of awkward language, but when it is blue then you are recording the original sound from your microphone.
  7. Ignore all of this if you are using Zoom on a tablet or smartphone as these options are not available!
  8. If you film on Zoom, the files will be saved once you end the meeting and it should save an audio file and a video file – it’s helpful for our editing if you can send us both of those! These are the m4a and mp4 files.

If this is all a bit complicated, don’t worry. It’s fine to just film on your phone/tablet – just be aware the file will be much bigger and might take a while to upload (depending on how good your internet connection is!)

When you have your recording, it would be helpful if you could rename the file with your name and which part you are singing (or playing), then you can upload your files directly to me using this dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/KJFwpXw50S4tdQxGRozJ

DEADLINE

It would be really appreciated to have the video submissions in hand by Sunday 27 September.

Enjoy yourselves!

 

Gather us in...

Written by Peter Johnston on .

We are still in a predominantly virtual world for worship at the moment, though we are seeking feedback from church members about the possibility of limited gathering for worship within the church building. But, that does not stop us from gathering together to worship in other ways. This week we had another virtual choir piece as we sang together "Here in this place" by Marty Haugen. 

Thanks to everyone who participated, another grand effort. More to come...

 

Spill the Beans Autumn 2020 Issue

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Spill the Beans Issue 36

We are continuing to live in very uncertain times and with a variety of different forms of worship being planned for the autumn months depending on the state of the pandemic. The Spill the Beans Resource Team have continued to create resources for worship leaders and age group leaders, recognising that variety, and we hope and pray that they are useful for you.

Note that we are adding audio-visual resources regularly to the Facebook group, so please do keep an eye on that.

This is the fourth issue in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary and covers from Pentecost 13 to Reign of Christ Sunday.

Sampler

Created by folks here in Scotland, this issue has lots of ideas and resources for you to inspire, adapt, use in leading worship or for age groups in Junior Churches and youth groups. If you have not used Spill the Beans before then please have a look at this sample.

If you'd like to download a full copy of Issue 36 (including audio files) for use in your church or personally, then click the 'Buy Now' button below. The cost is only £12 (GBP). You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you. Please note that you can only download the file using this link three times, so please make sure you save the file to your computer as soon as you have downloaded it. We recommend first downloading to a laptop or desktop computer before moving to phone/tablet.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The compressed zip file is large at approximately 15 MB so it may take some time to download. Please be patient as your computer does so! Once it has downloaded (you may want to check your "Downloads" folder) you will need to extract the contents (this option may appear at the top of the window or if you right-click on the file).

Spill the Beans Issue 36 Cover

Buy Now

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too. There is also a facebook page in which we share ideas and we have introduced a new facebook group which you can link to from the facebook page and which we hope will provide a place of mutual support, ideas and encouragement as we trek together through this new adventure.

Print Copies

The office in which the printed copies are made is currently still closed due to the pandemic so we cannot provide any printed copies of this issue. Our apologies for that inconvenience.

 

Rutter Virtual Choir/Orchestra

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Thanks to everyone who participated in our latest virtual choir and orchestra anthem.

The anthem is John Rutter's "As the bridegroom to his chosen", words by Johannes Tauler, arrangement by Kevin Haggart.

"A Little More" Virtual Choir

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Fresh from the editing computer is our latest musical endeavour for your enjoyment and uplift. It is a wonderful upbeat song with a real summer vibe from Fischy Music, arranged by our own Kevin Haggart, with a very important message about the One we believe in. This song was written as part of the collaboration between Spill the Beans and Fischy Music and is featured in the current issue of Spill the Beans.

Thanks to all the musicians and singers (some joining us for the first time from Blantyre and Canada) for their contributions.

If you want to use the song in your own online worship, then please feel free to do so either using the YouTube video itself or you can download a HD copy here (file size 377MB, download from Dropbox service).

Peter's Pause For Thought - Food

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This week's online assembly and pause for thought is now available. And can you beat my kitchen creation?

Song this week is "Why?" from Fischy Music.

"A Little More" Virtual Choir Notes

Written by Peter Johnston on .

The song we’ve picked for our next virtual choir is a new one from Fischy Music: ‘A Little More’. It has a great summer vibe and excellent ear-worm qualities!

This one we will sing in unison for the verses (so everyone is singing the same tune) but we will then split into harmony for the chorus.

The male voices singing the tune and altos/sopranos singing in harmony. You can find a copy of the vocal score here.

Zoom Meeting

We will be hosting a Zoom meeting to go over everything which may be helpful particularly for those who have not done this before. This will be on Saturday 20 June at 3 p.m.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85231797859?pwd=QWV6S2h2aGQ2ek9WakJhL1RUNkg3dz09

Meeting ID: 852 3179 7859
Password: 316953

We will go over everything at that meeting but here are some notes so you can make a start on learning the song and preparing!

And for any old hands out there, you know what to do already so you can just start recording when you are ready to go for it!

Kevin Haggart, our organist, has created three backing tracks which highlight each of the vocal parts so you can choose the appropriate one to sing along to.

Soprano Voices

Download audio file here or listen:

 

Alto Voices

Download audio file here or listen:

 

Male Voices

Download audio file here or listen:


 
Technical Instructions

We recommend having a good few practice sing throughs before you film yourself and then when you’re ready to go, you can record yourself by playing the audio track through headphones on a device other than the one you are recording on. This way, the recording will only pick up your lovely singing! (I personally found it easier to only have one headphone in my ear so I could hear myself singing better, but that’s just personal preference!)

Do as many takes as you need – I know I have never once got it right the first time! And remember: even if it sounds a little weird to hear your voice on its own, when everything is edited together it will sound beautiful!

A couple of little notes about filming: if possible, try to film somewhere quiet and well-lit (ideally with you facing a window) so that the videos look lovely! Please film landscape instead of portrait – it is so much easier to edit everything together if the videos all have similar proportions. Lastly, please keep recording until the music finishes! This just means that we don’t have some people’s videos cutting out way before others’ and means we’ll have a better finished video.

The Cue Clap: for this song we would ask you to clap on the first beat of the third bar. So when you listen to the introduction's "Dum-Dum-Dumm, Dum-Dum-Dumm, CLAP-Dum-Dumm, etc. It is the same bar that the drums start.

While we can absolutely have people film on their phones/tablets, recording using Zoom itself results in a much smaller file which is more manageable (both for sending the file and for editing the video together). If you do record using Zoom, here are a few extra instructions:

  1. Turn off "Automatically adjust volume" and then set the slider yourself. Start around the half way mark and then try singing as loud as you are going to get and watch the blue indicator line - you do NOT want this to go much over half way at your loudest - adjust to suit.
  2. In "Advanced" (button at bottom right of the Settings window) checking the box to allow "Enable Original Sound"
  3. In this same section turn the options for "Suppress Persistent Background Noise" and " Suppress Intermittent Background Noise" to Disable.
  4. When you then go to record your session on Zoom ensure that you have clicked the link at top left hand corner that would say "Turn on original sound" so that it illuminates in blue and says "Turn off original sound" - it is a bit of awkward language, but when it is blue then you are recording the original sound from your microphone.
  5. Ignore all of this if you are using Zoom on a tablet or smartphone as these options are not available!
  6. If you film on Zoom, the files will be saved once you end the meeting and it should save an audio file and a video file – it’s helpful for our editing if you can send us both of those!

If this is all a bit complicated, don’t worry. It’s fine to just film on your phone/tablet – just be aware the file will be much bigger and might take a while to upload (depending on how good your internet connection is!)

When you have your recording, it would be helpful if you could rename the file with your name and which part you are singing (or playing), then you can upload your files directly to me using this dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/Nfqhvyw5mF4dHTX8hAK1

Have fun!

Pause For Thought - Friendship

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This week's pause for thought for younger folks, thinking about the events of the past few weeks. Includes the song "That's what a friend is" from Fischy Music.

Pause For Thought - Home

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This week's Pause For Thought for younger folks (or young of mind!). The theme is on "home" and what we value about our homes.

If you want to get creative and make your own paper house you can follow the instructions available here where you will also find a link to a video which I did have to use in order to work out the final fold and where to tuck the corners in.

As I was doing some work earlier today and gathering information about refugees in Scotland I came across this lovely story of Marwa from Syria:

Aberdeen and Shetland Presbyteries United

Written by Peter Johnston on .

For Pentecost Sunday this year we hosted at Ferryhill a special Celebration Service to mark the start of the new Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland. While this kind of service would ordinarily be the kind of festive occasion that would gather folks from many parts, not least from Shetland and across Aberdeen city, with time of worship together and then a bun fight afterwards with copious home-bakes. Today we truly have had to suffice with our own home-bakes, but nonetheless people were gathered together virtually both to share in the worship and in the preparation of that worship.

The service, if you missed it, can be found below.

Virtual Choir

Two of the parts of the service that we had spent many, many hours on collectively were the virtual choir pieces. These came out really well and many thanks to everyone who contributed their parts and a particular thank you from me to Kevin Haggart for all the work in creating backing tracks to keep us all in sync and preparing the musical scores, and to Sophia Johnston for many hours of video editing that she contributed.

This is the anthem, "O Breath of Life" with music by Alan Bullard:

And this is the final hymn with which the service ends: the 14th century York Processional "Hail Thee, Festival Day!" with music by Ralph Vaughan Williams:

May we all relish the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit
at work in our lives and in our communities,
breathing hope and joy
into our souls and actions.

 

Arrogant and offensive

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Warning: there be politics in these parts.

The outpouring of anger and frustration over the decision of the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser, Dominic Cummings, to flout the law has been overwhelming over the weekend and into this week. By leaving his home in London to travel to Durham with members of his family who he had reason to believe had Covid-19, Dominic Cummings disregarded the rules that were in place, and remain in place, that if you suspect that you or someone has Covid-19 you must stay at home and isolate yourselves.

The excuses have reached epic levels, beyond parody. That you would go out for an hour drive to test your eye-sight with your family in the car, risking their lives and the lives of other road users is, of course, patently ridiculous. The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, voiced the feelings of many in response to Boris Johnson’s defence of Cummings’ actions: “The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs? The moral question is not for Cummings – it is for PM and ministers/MPs who find this behaviour acceptable. What are we to teach our children? (I ask as a responsible father.)”

What really angered me was the Prime Minister’s insinuation that any loving parent, concerned for their child, would have done the same. Many loving parents, concerned for their children, stayed at home, as the law demanded.

The actions of Cummings should not be remotely surprising to watchers of politics. Remember that Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer after weeks of reported tension with Cummings, including the Special Adviser sacking an aide of Javid’s, Sonia Khan, without Javid’s knowledge. She was marched out of Downing Street by an armed police officer. Cummings, it would appear, thinks he can go around the rules, such as over the firing of staff or the rules on self-isolating. More than that, he has made this kind of rule-breaking a part of the “mystique” around him. That is hokum, but the number of times you hear stories of his genius, of his special abilities, it has gained some traction.

civil service tweet

What really did stun me over the weekend was a short-lived moment of pure clarity that some brave soul offered to the world. A tweet was published from the official UK Civil Service twitter account that, in response to Boris Johnson’s press conference on Sunday evening, said: “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine working with these truth twisters?”

The tweet was rapidly deleted, of course, but in that brief glimmer of honesty we saw someone who could not help themselves but to speak truth to power. It has been announced that an investigation is ongoing to root out who published this tweet. One suspects far fewer resources will be expended on investigating the actions of Dominic Cummings by this Government.

The issue of truthfulness and honesty amongst leadership is one that I have repeatedly been returning to in Sunday’s messages as John’s gospel keeps returning us to those themes and Jesus’ own example to us.

In a time of pandemic when nationwide shifts in our behaviour, our actions, are necessary to bring the rates of infection down, to protect the more vulnerable, we were being told, repeatedly, that we were all in this together. We had to obey the rules, albeit introduced too late to stop the devastating loss of life that has affected so many people, in order to protect one another. This was an action of shared social concern. This was the nationwide community being asked to change their way of behaving in order to protect one another. And in the intervening time people tragically either could not or would not, due to trying to obey the rules, be with loved ones who died.

This communal activity to protect one another, at tremendous personal cost for many, is what Cummings’ betrayed and what the PM and other cabinet Ministers (noting that Douglass Ross MP resigned his Jnr Minister position today) are now lauding as not only acceptable behaviour but an example of good, loving, parenting.

But again, this is not in the least surprising to me. The crew that are in Downing Street are the same folks who brought us Brexit on a bus replete with lies and misinformation and other such gems as lying to the Queen over Prorogation of Parliament. And it is all connected. The attitude of one rule for us and one rule for others is endemic in their whole project.

The Brexit argument was fabricated with a house of cards. Each card representing another false argument (sovereignty of parliament, immigration rules, bendy bananas, EU funding payments, Prawn Cocktail crisps, the EU is bad for our trade, refugees, and on and on). But it worked. That heady mixture of lies, fabrications, interwoven with a heavy dose of populism and simplistic sloganeering led to a narrow referendum victory. But that did not stop it from being a project built on falsehood.

As time has gone by and the campaigning is past those falsehoods are revealed, along with the dire cost of them.

My point, in regard to the current hoo-ha over Cummings’ actions is that this is but one example of what we should expect far more of in the future. The whole point of Brexit, as is the case with the Trump project in the USA, is to break the system of rules within nations and between nations. It is to allow an individualistic free-for-all where the rules, limited though they were, that restrained the powerful and wealthy are removed, once and for all. It is a world in which the wealthy elites can move between homes at whim while the rest of us have to remain self-isolating. It is a world in which the regulations that protect those in the workplace are reduced in order to boost stockholder value and company profits. It is a world in which the vulnerable will find themselves even more at risk of the vagaries of viruses or poverty or unemployment or limited choices.

The Brexit propagandists repeatedly, for instance, laid claim to how we will be fine leaving the single market of the EU because we can fall back on WTO rules. But at the same time Donald Trump is undermining the World Trade Organisation to the point now that it is almost worthless and unable, due to his decision to block the judges that are required for the WTO to do its work. If the UK gets in a disagreement with another nation about a matter of trade there will be no one to adjudicate on it at the WTO, making the WTO rules meaningless. It is a Wild West era we are being led into.

When the mask is pulled off the project and we see what it really means, such as “one rule for me and another rule for them” we rightly object and are horrified by the selfishness that this exhibits. We recognise that this is going to do terrible harm to communities and to society, while at the same time enriching and enabling a few. Because we often want to see the best in others, we are generally happy to accept people’s word as presented to us, which is what the PM is wanting us to do with his Special Adviser. To do so in this case, however, is to focus on a single tree and miss the wood around us.

The patterns of thought, the reliance on lies and falsehoods, the dismantling of relationships with partners (as we are grimly witnessing with Europe and the failure of the UK team to negotiate with the EU team) is not an accident, it is part of a strategy. That strategy includes never admitting error or apologising. It is the same strategy being deployed by Trump and the Republican party in the USA. When you read about authoritarian regimes around the world, past and present, you realise it is part of a pattern and, as such, it is deeply worrying. (If you are interested, Sarah Kendzior’s new book “Hiding in Plain Sight”, she being a scholar of authoritarian regimes, is a good place to start.)

Which is why I keep coming back to the part that the church should be playing to be a prophetic voice that defends community, that tries to display a model of how we can support each other. It is heartening to see so many bishops in the Church of England publicly come forward to speak out over the last couple of days, revealing the hypocrisy of those who say one thing to us while doing another themselves. We are about to celebrate the coming of the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, on Pentecost Sunday this Sunday coming, and we need to be empowered by that Spirit now more than ever.

 

Pause for Thought #3

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Peter's Pause for Thought for this week for pupils at Ferryhill Primary School and anyone else looking for a wee craft challenge and to make some joyful (not always in tune) noise!

You can find instructions to create your own origami tulips here, and if you want to print out sheets with coloured paper for making your tulips you can find a Word document here. You can then change the colours to whatever you want!

 

Pause for Thought #2

Written by Peter Johnston on .

The next in the series of "Pause for Thought" videos for the pupils at Ferryhill Primary. This is on the theme of finding things for which to be thankful and then holding on to those things as if they are rocks amidst the storms of life. The song is another super Fischy Music song called "Holding on to the rock". Thanks to Sophia for helping me out!

Spill the Beans Free Resources

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Spill the Beans Issue 34

Those of us who are worship leaders, planners and creators are in a very different world at the moment in our organising of worship and ways of encouraging people in their worship of God during the Covid-19 pandemic response. In recognition of the difficult circumstances many of us are in at this time, the Spill the Beans Resource Team offer their latest issue as a free gift to our friends and colleagues around the world.

This is the third issue in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary and covers from Trinity Sunday to Pentecost 12, taking us through the summer months.

Collaboration with Fischy Music

We continute our collaborative work with Fischy Music with a new song titled "A Little More" which debuts in this issue and explores our calling to be more like Jesus and to see the world as if through Jesus' eyes. You will find the score within the issue and audio tracks both with vocals and the backing track alone.

Download the Pack

Spill the Beans Issue 34 Cover

We are not using our usual delivery service for this free of charge issue. So please click on the image of the issue above or click here and the download of the zip pack should begin. 

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too. There is also a facebook page in which we share ideas and we have introduced a new facebook group which you can link to from the facebook page and which we hope will provide a place of mutual support, ideas and encouragement as we trek together through this new adventure.

Print Copies

The office in which the printed copies are made is currently closed due to the pandemic so we cannot provide any printed copies of this issue. Our apologies for that inconvenience.

 

Virtual Choir Notes For Pentecost

Written by Peter Johnston on .

We are really looking forward to a celebratory worship service for Pentecost on 31 May 2020. We will be joined by the Moderator of the new Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland, Rev Hutton Steele, with the new presbytery beginning the following day, 1 June. We will have a video message from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland as part of that service. We are also looking to expand our Virtual Choir / Orchestra for this service and have been delighted by the response so far from folks seeking to join in.

There will be a Zoom meeting to talk through what we are doing on Saturday 9 May at 3 p.m. and details of that will be sent out to those who have expressed an interest. You can join us by clicking here and following the instructions (if you have not used Zoom before you may need to download the programme).

If you need to join the meeting manually the Meeting ID is 845 7354 4671 and the Password is 005039.

In the meantime, here are some notes and resources so that you can start to prepare, listen to the song and get yourselves ready!

Hail Thee, Festival Day!

A vivacious Pentecost hymn (Church Hymnary, 4th Ed, no. 581). You can fiind the score here.

This is a unison hymn so we are all singing the same notes, however we will split which voices are singing which verses for a bit of variety. I have noted who will be doing what on the score that you can download above. It will go as follows:

Verse 1 (Refrain) - ALL

Verse 2 - WOMEN

Verse 3 - MEN

Verse 4 - WOMEN

Verse 5 - ALL

The refrain (verse 1) is sung by ALL after each of verses 2-5.

Do note that the tune is different for verses 2 & 4 and verses 3 & 5.

Kevin has prepared the audio backing track which you can listen to below or download from here.

 

And this version includes a sample vocal track that you can use as a lead and to follow:

 

Download here.

If you would like to listen to the tune being sung there is an excellent Songs of Praise version, but do note that THE WORDS ARE DIFFERENT!

O Breath Of Life

This is a Pentecost anthem. It is in simple harmony for Soprano, Alto and Men's Voices. We begin all together for the first verse. In the second verse Women will sing the melody with Men providing some harmony beneath "God, remake us,...". In the final verse Altos and Men will sing the tune with Sopranos singing the Descant.

This is a really lively one so while we have generally been recording ourselves singing sitting down when doing the Virtual Choir pieces thus far, I would really recommend, where possible, that you stand up to sing this one (not a bad idea for Hail Thee, Festival Day either). Especially for that final verse and the long held last note it will stand you in good stead (see what I did there?)!

You can find a copy of the score here.

Kevin has prepared three different backing tracks for you to use with each of the three parts highlighted for you to follow. Please download or listen to the one you need.

Sopranos

 

Download here.

Alto

 

Download here.

Men

 

Download here.

Men (with vocal guide)

 

Download here.

Technical Instructions

How this works is that, once we all know what we are doing, we go our own paths to practise and then to record ourselves. You do this by playing the audio backing track through headphones so that only you can hear it (you may just want to have one headphone in your ear so you can also hear yourself better through your other ear) and then record just your vocal part.

We have used a combination of people recording directly in the Zoom app and people recording onto their phones. Either works fine. The files are a lot smaller if you use Zoom which makes it a bit more manageable. We will go over this on the Zoom meeting.

If you are recording using Zoom on a desktop or laptop computer there are some audio settings to tweak:

  1. Turn off "Automatically adjust volume" and then set the slider yourself. Start around the half way mark and then try singing as loud as you are going to get and watch the blue indicator line - you do NOT want this to go much over half way at your loudest - adjust to suit.
  2. In "Advanced" (button at bottom right of the Settings window) checking the box to allow "Enable Original Sound"
  3. In this same section turn the options for "Suppress Persistent Background Noise" and " Suppress Intermittent Background Noise" to Disable.
  4. When you then go to record your session on Zoom ensure that you have clicked the link at top left hand corner that would say "Turn on original sound" so that it illuminates in blue and says "Turn off original sound" - it is a bit of awkward language, but when it is blue then you are recording the original sound from your microphone.
  5. Ignore all of this if you are using Zoom on a tablet or smartphone as these options are not available!

Please try to record in "landscape" format rather than "portrait" - it makes life much easier when editing if we are all using the same proportions!

Also, make sure to keep filming and looking at the camera at the end of the piece right through until you hear the accompaniment fade out before you stop recording. That again helps us with editing.

We have experimented with different ways to get the files to me once you have recorded them and I have a new method we could try!

For files relating to Hail Thee Festival Day you can upload the files using: https://www.dropbox.com/request/2kqnmR8iFoWd9AvIM1op

And for O Breath Of Life you can use: https://www.dropbox.com/request/T59Sw5ogHWVvjqWJgJQ9

Note that if using Zoom to record then both the audio (m4a) and video (mp4) files are useful for us to have for the edit - you should find these in a folder titled "Zoom" under "Documents".

Looking forward to our combined efforts!

Peter

Peter's Pause For Thought - Kindness

Written by Peter Johnston on .

I'm starting a weekly (hopefully!) Pause For Thought for children at Ferryhill Primary School, but also available for everyone else!

Thanks to Sophia for helping me out with the song at the end.

Miserere mei, Deus

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Utterly beautiful. I remember singing this as a treble, sure couldn't do anything as pure today. Just left here as a thing of wonder.

Though sometimes the comment section of YouTube really does bring out the best in people. This comment made me chuckle:

No one can sing like an angel.
The woman on the left:
"Hold my holy water"

 

 

Forever Young

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Nearly eighty years old and Joan Baez still speaking truth to power and bringing hope and joy.