Links to recordings, scores, and videos of innovative uses of technology in choral performance.
Daniel Pinkham – In the Beginning of Creation
For SATB choir, electronic media. General, Creation/Nature, Choral. Choral score. Scripture: Genesis 1:1-3. 4 pages. Published by Ione Press (EC.2902). A classic example of the electronic aesthetic of the 70s. Very accessible for the choir and still interesting to perform.
Brooke Joyce – The Revelation of St. Jullian
Composed by Brooke Joyce for the Nordic Choir at Luther College and premiered in 2008. A complete recording is available on their album In the Beginning. The piece uses precisely timed cues linked to elapsed time on the cd clock. It freely adapts text from the Divine Revelations of St. Jullian (1373).
Steve Sametz – Voices of Broken Hearts
Voices of Broken Hearts sets Carl Sandburg’s “Clark Street Bridge” from his collection Chicago Poems (1916). It is scored for women’s chorus and digitally delayed viola or vibraphone. The scene Sandburg sets in the poem, a lonely bridge at night with ghostly voices sounding in the air, is portrayed by the softly whispering choir, at times aleatoric, and the use of digital delay for the obbligato instrument.
Joel Matthys – Physica
Joel Matthys’ four movement work for women’s chorus and electronics uses PD extended (freely available) and amazingly for electronic music, worked right out of the box for me. He was intending to provide maximum flexibility and ease for incorporating the electronics as he describes in his note:
The computer part was designed to use the frequencies present in the voice recording to reveal the composed harmonies of the piece, while requiring minimal technical knowledge on the part of the computer operator. By relying on prerecorded audio as the basis for the electronic part, the potential for technical problems in rehearsal and performance are greatly reduced, while the real-time processing of the audio allows the choir to be flexible and expressive with tempo and rhythm. Rather than using a fixed-format electronic track with a synchronization aid such as a click track, which introduces the potential for technical problems, a single computer musician following the score advances through preset cues in the score.
The piece draws on the writings of Hildegaard von Bingen in Physica as well as excerpts from Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. The recording linked below by Vox is a previous version. The included score is Matthys’ revised version.
Benjamin Martinson – Undivided
Undivided was written in 2011 for Vox Musica, by Benjamin Martinson. As a composer who specializes in choral and electronic music, Benjamin jumped at the opportunity to combine these media, and to work once again with Vox Musica. The goal of the electronic sounds in this piece is to emphasize and enhance what makes the choir essentially choral, rather than contrast or subvert it. The computer brings no new sounds to the piece, but rather processes the sound of the choir in real time.
Sandstrom – Lo How a Rose
Bruno Ruviaro created SuperCollider code that allowed the second choir part of the Sandstrom arrangement to be performed by four players using WiiMote. The player could push (A) to advance from one note to the next, raise and lower the WiiMote to crescendo and decrescendo and could control timbre by rolling left and right. The supercollider code is available for download via GitHub.
Hanna-Weir / Arcadelt – Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno… e Dolce Cigno…
Using Jacques Arcadelt’s Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno as a basis, the piece uses live looping electronics to capture the choir singing live and then allowing it to sing back against itself. Detailed instructions on putting the piece together are available at the GitHub page (Bruno Ruviaro conceived the electronics).
Hanna-Weir / Ruviaro – Sympathy
A text setting of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Sympathy, most recognized for the line “I know why the caged bird sings”. The piece is accompanied by three electronic tracks played by the audience via their smartphones and then uses pre-recorded notes sung by the choir to transform the piece into a live-electronic piece at its conclusion. More information about this piece including links to all required files is available on the GitHub page. You can also check out our newly released “music video” version.
Ted Hearne – Sound from the Bench
Co-commissioned by Volti and The Crossing, Ted Hearne’s Sound from the Bench is an avant garde blend of rock guitar and drums with difficult choral writing in five movements. You can hear the entire work on Ted Hearne’s bandcamp page as recorded live by The Crossing.