Sunday, 13 March 2011

Weekly Task

Having overseen the installation of a new sound system, and shown one other how to operate it, each week I do the business of making a CD (and a back up) that plays either continuously or single tracks in a service according to the wishes of the service taker. This means selecting incidental music and choosing hymns from:

  • Originally, a Unitarian choir tape or CD (ripped and edited)
  • A website of well-played public domain organ music in Australia (.MP3s)
  • Other websites of public domain hymns (.MP3s or .MIDs) like this one
  • Importing .MID to Evolution MIDI for instrument changing, or to Synthfont for .WAV or to MuseScore for the score (and .OGG output)
  • Other media and conversions (including even soundcard interrogation via Audiograbber)
  • Copying from the hymnbook using MuseScore (.OGG output)

Every hymn is edited, thanks to Audacity, especially to get peak levels, and can be lowered in pitch and slowed (or the opposite), have verses added or removed, change the lead in to a full verse, and more; as for .MIDs, they can have instruments changed and the score revealed to be effectively converted to better musical output and, once converted, they have to be repeated as needed for verses and edited further.

This last week for Sunday 13th I received a change of music order to the service from what he first wanted; a section of music I'd already edited was instead to be the full piece; I edited another across two continuous movements; there are no choir supported hymns and one is in a book we don't even use, one I had to find from scratch and copy and paste a verse (smoothly - so you can't see the join) and the rest needed re-editing (I discovered). I was left to add any music before and after the service, and having burnt one CD had second thoughts and changed the music that comes directly before the service.

As for the support of choirs, at first there was a tape produced at Harris Manchester College, but the chap doing the recording clunked the button as the choir echoed out on every hymn. So the clunk has to be removed and artificial echoes added in. The first CD was in mono with a noisy background. Noise reduction I put in left a metallic sound layer, so it was removed by continuous echo, the high peaking sound then needing its head cutting off (low pass, by memory) - and it is still bad. One CD is good for Hymns for Living. The Sing Your Faith supplement has four choir CDs already which is necessary as the book does contain some complicated contemporary tunes.

So I keep lots of these: any initial .OGG outputs, just like MP3s downloaded, becoming .WAV and my computer now is stuffed full of hymns and they take up a lot of space.


In the end, it was worth it. The service taker, a retired minister, was on the traditional side but very communicable and I did my bit from behind the curtain.


Robertson said...

I marvel at your technical ability,Adrian, and I'm sure the result is first class but I'm sad that a church in a big city cannot find 'live' musicians to accompany its services.Where I worship we're very well provided with excellent musicians who not only play for worship but considerably enhance its quality.
I cannot believe that the church could not find a rota of young musicians to play at services - and yes, pay them for doing so - always attractive ! In a similar university city an acquaintance of mine was awarded a scholarship of £400 p.a. to just sing in the choir for Sunday services and she's only available in term times (!)Some congregations have done lateral thinking in this area ; Kingswood pays their Sunday School leader - and why not ?

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Well our service taker today said, "for a church that hasn't got a musician the solution is fantastic." But you make good points. This church, not short of money, decided to pay for this solution rather than the musician solution.