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Finale Question

I have a question for those who do a lot of choral work with Finale (or even just a little). Do any of you prefer using a different instrument in place of the choir oohs and ahhs and if so, which ones? I think it's safe to say the choir sounds are lacking in certain areas and the sound can easily become "muddied" or a "wash", even after tampering with the mixer. Thanks! 
Replies (8): Threaded | Chronological
on March 20, 2014 7:42pm
Garritan choir sounds work better than the standard MIDI set.
There are other times when I'll use oboe for S, clarinet for A, horn for T and bassoon for B. I also generally include the piano reduction in rehearsal tracks purely for the percussive attacks.
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross <Robert Ross 11>
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 20, 2014 8:24pm
I use strings (violin for soprano and alto, viola for tenor and cello for bass).  You have to be careful with the mix.  It's not a good approximation, but I like the way it sounds.  I don't think the oohs and aahs are very good either.  I know at least one other composer who uses clarinet for the voices.
I have heard some programs which 'sing' words, but I haven't heard one which does it well.
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on March 20, 2014 8:40pm
I think all of these are viable options. I vary it, depending on the stylistic and vocal needs of the composition or arrangement (timbre, envelope of sound). Ultimately, I want clarity from the other instrumentation, so I can tell what part is what in the mix. Robert's ideas are a great default in my opinion.
Jeremiah Selvey, Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting Candidate (ABD)
University of Washington
Sound Examples: SoundCloud
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on March 20, 2014 8:51pm
Mr. Selvey-I agree. I've been using the piano recduction like Robert suggested recently. This is my second semester as a theory/composition major and fourth as a vocal performance major so I look for input and advice as much as I can. I'm not sure if it's my own ear just not clearly recognizing each part or if it is really the timbre issue with the instruments. It may be both. As a future choral conductor/composer, I'm wondering if there are any specific books on conducting/composing you would suggest I look into for more knowledge? Thanks!
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on March 20, 2014 8:43pm
Robert-Thanks! I hadn't thought of the woodwinds before. I'll try that! And I always use Garritan; I would never think of using the standard midi. Haha!
Ray-I was going to try the strings soon. And yes, the mix is just....."ehh" sometimes. Also, the programs for singing words are usually either not that great or great but too expensive. I guess I'm just looking for a different timbre or something. Thank you!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 24, 2014 6:38am
I also will use a string and/or wind ensemble for the voices, and will sometimes mix them up depending on the number of parts (use strings for the 1s and winds for the 2s, etc).
I also use voice imitating software. Something called Virtual Singer, a plug-in for Myriad's notation program Harmony Assistant.
Now, I find Harmony Assistant to be very user-unfriendly, especially for me, someone who has used Finale forever. So I do not recommend it.
listening to my arrangements in VS can call attention to something that listening with the instruments does not. And, hearing the voices can sometimes inspire even better ideas. I am consistently re-voicing chords and fixing voice leading after hearing the voices sing my arrangement. I find this tool invaluable.
Yes, of course the voices sound computerized, and will elicit giggles from folks, but it's not too bad! The recordings I make from VS (they can be exported as mp3s) are for my own use. Singers sometimes use my mp3s to help them get a feel for an arrangement. And you can customize the voices and pronunciations to make them more palatable.
Here is my process:
1. Finalize my score in Finale (is there a pun there?)
2. Export as a MusicXML
3. Import MusicXML into Harmony Assistant
4. Set up Virtual Singer with the proper tempo, the voices I want (very simple to do), and the right mix (a little mixer pops up when you open VS)
5. Hit the space bar and listen!
The topic of cost came up. I think Harmony Assitant is still under $100, and Virtual Singer is free as a plug-in.
Hope this also helps!
Pat Montenegro
on March 24, 2014 6:49am
I'll be very happy to send you one of my demos, if you would like to hear what I do with Virtual Singer. Just shoot me an email!
on March 25, 2014 8:34am
Hi, Pat! I am curious to hear Virtual Singer on your demos. Could you send me one?
Currently I make use of the strings of Garritan when I'm using Finale. I have also used a wind ensemble with some success.
Thank you!
Joy DP
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