DESCRIPTION OF BACKING-TRACK SERVICE

As a general rule the teaching of singing has required that the vocal teacher is also a key-board player of reasonable ability but the corollary of this is that the repertoire studied is limited by the actual level of that ability and also that the teacher spends too much time being an accompanist, often to the detriment of the teaching. For the rather compelling reason that I had no keyboard skills whatsoever, as well as the arguments given above, my decision to be a voice teacher meant the development of a whole support system for the tuition sessions as well as home-practice; the latter being particularly important as, again, very few singing pupils have keyboard skills and even if they do, self-accompaniment is a hindrance not an asset. As a case in point I have actually had the experience of listening to a 'teacher', (at the time recently graduated from a music school) attempting to teach singing and playing the piano with one finger giving a somewhat less than adequate representation of the melody and certainly not a hint of the actual accompaniment texture so necessary to support the voice!!! I have built up this resource over the past decade as I worked with a wide range of 'singers' (see 'case studies' ) and it has been very satisfying to see and hear the pupil's development when supported by their own 'resident combo'. To be able to sing backed by a rock-solid representation of some the repertoire's most complex accompaniments is quite an experience. Significant examples are:
Laudamus Te (JS Bach); Qia Fecit (CPE Bach); Alleluia (Handel); Agnus Dei and Quonium qui Solus Sanctus (Rossini); The monumental settings of Shakespeare poems by Sir Henry Bishop; Thy Dark Eyes to Mine (Arnold Bax); Queen of the Night's Aria (Mozart); Standchen (R Strauss); Fantoche (Debussy); and many others to be found in the catalogue.

The accompaniments are constructed using the step-wise note input mode of the sequencing programme Performer ("Mark of the Unicorn") linked to a Roland D10 synthesiser. All sequenced tracks are separately voiced and edited with respect to key-impact velocity and dynamics and the conductor track is constructed to control basic tempi with absolute precision but edited to encompass all tempo variation markings as well as building in "rubato-space" as appropriate. Original recording is to Mini-disc and then, via Nero Media Player, into a computer wav file for subsequent burning as an Audio-CD. The wav files can also be converted to MP3 format and stored on CD-Rom. Audio- CDs and MP3 discs can be played on a DVD Player. The MP3 files are now available for Download. Refer to the Catalogue section for purchasing information

The accompaniments come in pairs or triplets of tracks; one with the melody line played by a recorder patch and one or two tracks with the melody-line removed (except for what may be in the right-hand of the piano). The second accompaniment track is provided in a higher setting as indicated in the catalogue index pages. Most tracks are straightforward keyboard accompaniments but, as appropriate, other patches are used.(eg pipe-organ, electronic organ, vibes and other atmospheric sounds as well as percussion tracks for jazz, pop, and rock). As a singer I have built into these tracks the rubato that I would expect from a sensitive accompanist. (The tracks have been used in concert and competition performance situations)

While categories such as Lieder, and British art are available in both high and low settings, an advantage of this system is that tracks can be provided, in transpositions to suit an average voice range, for songs which might otherwise be inaccessible to a number of pupils, but which, in an appropriate key, can be very useful and exciting teaching exercises.

These recordings are for educational use only and are not to be further copied or distributed. The accompaniments are based on standard publications generally available from sheet-music suppliers or in city libraries. This is not a resource for sheet-music but the catalogue will indicate sources. Go to the catalogue link for a listing of available tracks. The catalogue is presented as categories of song (eg Oratorio/Opera/Art song/Song cycles etc) and may be ordered as a complete unit for downloading or for posting as audioCD or dataCD.

Seperate song titles are now available for download - Order by quoting the Category Number followed by the Track Numbers - (charged at 0.5 British pounds per song title).

For a rationale of my use of scales for the voice please go to Sound Singing