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I am a not-very-good Tenor - a Singer of SATB Choral Works such as Messiah and Creation - and for many years have sung in a number of Community Choirs in and around Cambridge, including the Haslingfield Choir (in the village down the road), Histon Choir2000, Collegium Laureatum and the Cambridgeshire Choral Society. I have spent those many years using the Noteworthy Composer Notation software (see Noteworthy Software Inc) to key these Works (from the printed piano-reduction score) into my computer so that I can more quickly learn them. To assist me with this I usually employ another piece of music software, Midisoft's Session (now long superseded: however, by clicking on the following link you can download a copy), which provides a real-time Mixer Board (sadly, missing from Noteworthy Composer) allowing me readily to emphasize any "voice" so that it can easily be picked out (more easily than when listening to a proper recording of the Work). However, there is a problem with Files produced by Session: see Playing Midi Files.
And now ... I thought it would be a useful service to the world to make the basic Midi Files freely available to anyone who needed them ... and this I now do - see the Composer Lists referred to at the top of this page (back to top). You should bear in mind, though, that when you play them on your computer you won't necessarily have a wonderful musical experience! The problem stems from the combination of what a Midi File is and the hardware and software you have. If you want to know a little more about this - about what I do, and how Midi works, and so on - look at What I do. And if you really want to know all about Midi, try looking at THE OFFICIAL ALT.MUSIC.MIDI FAQ Site (and for a different take on the matter of Midi have a look at The MIDI Technical Fanatic's Brainwashing Center). And if you want to know what a Work really sounds like, go out and buy a recording of it!
Playing Midi Files requires an appropriate piece of software - typically Windows Media Player. I suggest you read Playing Midi Files, and decide what you're going to use. And if you don't fancy any of the Players I list there, try Googling "Midi Player"; you'll find there are many Players out there, some free, some merely inexpensive.
How to download these Midi Files (1)
There is no Download option per se on the Site; you just have to rely on Windows - or whatever your Operating System is - doing it for you. You have basically two choices - either you left-click on the File Name (in the left-hand, un-emphasized, column of the Table of Files available for each Work, and selectable from the Composer List links) or on the icon in the relevant one of the Table's Voice columns, or you right-click on the Name or icon.
If you left-click then, depending on how Windows (or other OS) is set up on your machine, either you get a standard dialogue asking whether you want to open the File (and played) where it is or instead you want to download it, or - which is more likely - the File is automatically downloaded (usually into a "Temp" directory somewhere on your Root [C] drive, and often under a name that is not recognisable as the File name). If you get the "open-or-save" dialogue - Internet Explorer says "Save Target as ...", while Firefox says "Save Link as ..." - then, if you choose "Save" (and then deal suitably with where it is to go, and what it is to be named), the File is appropriately downloaded and stored, and can later be retrieved and played by your chosen Player (such as Windows Media Player - though I recommend some other Players, and mention a few in Playing Midi Files). If you choose "Open" the File is automatically downloaded (as above) and supplied, equally automatically, to whatever piece of software is "associated" on your machine with Midi Files - typically Windows Media Player - which will pop up on your desktop and actually play the File. Once the File is in Media Player it can usually be saved for subsequent retrieval using Media Player's pull-down standard "File|Save As ..." routine.
If you right-click on the Name or icon then you get the standard "open-or-save" dialogue, and can proceed as noted above.
All of this is Windows-driven, so it works whatever Browser - Internet Explorer, say, or Firefox - you may be using.
If you've got a Mac ... I don't really know much about Macs; it's up to you!
With Android Tablets/Smartphones you can also play and/or download the Files using your browser and the in-built OS. With iPads and iPhones, however, neither download nor playing capability comes as part of the basic software, and you have to install your own Apps - iTunes and Quick-time may be required (I say a bit more on the subject of playing the Files in Playing Midi Files).
How to download these Midi Files (2)
In some cases the Midi Files Table for a Choral Work includes, as the first item in each column, "All Files"; this is all the relevant Files zipped up, and you can use it to download all the relevant Files in one go rather than retrieving them one at a time. The zipped set can be downloaded in the same way as can the individual Files. Thus, again you have basically two choices - either you left- or you right-click on the "All Files".
What happens if you left-click depends very much on how Windows (or other OS) is set up on your machine and what Unzipping software you've got. I'll leave you to work out the rest of it! If you right-click on the "All Files" then you get the standard "open-or-save" dialogue, and can proceed as noted above ... and then eventually unzip the Files.
As before, all of this is Windows-driven, so it works whatever Browser - Internet Explorer, say, or Firefox - you may be using ... and if you've got a Mac, it's up to you!
How to use these Midi Files (1)
This is what I recommend. First, download all the Files you need - the ones emphasised suitably for your voice - and the corresponding unemphasised versions (if the Table includes the "All Files" zipped versions then this downloading may be effected most easily using them). Since both sets use the same names for the individual Midi Files you'll need to save them in two different places, and I suggest that to start with you put them one set in each of two separate (appropriately-named, and previously-formed) Folders on the Desktop (later on you can if you wish move these Folders somewhere more convenient).
Then make sure you have a suitable Midi File Player ... I recommend one that allows you to modify the tempo of the music and the emphasis (volume) of your voice. I use Session; it works well for me (a "freebie" version can be downloaded from here ... but do read the comments I've made elsewhere about its
problems. Another good Player is Chris Hills's MidiPlay.
If you're a Mac User then I suggest Roni Music's Sweet MIDI Player. This has been strongly recommended to me, and a version suitable for Mac OS X (10.3.9 or higher) can be downloaded - for free - from the relevant sub-page of the Roni Music Website.
The iPhone does not seems to support MIDI file playback natively. There is, apparently, a Sweet MIDI player iPhone version, but a better - but not free - iPhone player is Learn My Part.
Next, use the File Player to play through each piece, and as you do adjust the tempo(s) and emphasis as necessary (you may need to slow things down quite a bit to start with, but as you become more familiar with the work you can speed the music up again). And then ... practise. There really is no substitute for it - most of us cannot even "get by" if all we do is simply turn up at the rehearsals and rely on doing a bit of notebashing. So, in between times, practise! For each piece, play the music, and sing along with it using the Score, again, and again, and ... again! And also play the music at other times, when you can't hold the score (because you're driving, washing the baby, jogging, whatever; I make audio tapes or CDs from the Midi Files output from Session, and I listen to these whenever I can). Your notes will drive themselves into your head until, one day, when by mistake you turn over two pages of the score at once, you'll discover it doesn't matter; you can carry on singing the right notes quite happily, because you know it by heart!
And finally? The acid test. Discard those slow, easy emphasised Files, and sing the Work using the real tempo unemphasised ones. That Tenor (or Alto, or whatever) singing the wrong notes loudly in your ear will never put you off again!
How to use these Midi Files (2)
If you download all the relevant Files - both the unemphasised and the emphasised ones - then you may find it helpful to load them into the sort of Player that has a PlayList facility (such a facility enables the Player automatically to play all the Files in a chosen List, one after the other, without further intervention by you; for a Player with PlayList facilities, I suggest either van Basco's or WinAmp). If you decide to do that then I also suggest that, at least when you're beginning to learn the Work, you merge the two Files sets - by copying the emphasised Files on top of (and so overwriting) the unemphasised ones, so that the resulting blend is a mixture of emphasised Files for you to sing and unemphasised ones for you to listen to when you're not singing - and then use this blend to prepare the PlayList. Don't forget, though, to do the blending with copies of the original copies sets, not with the originals themselves, else you may find yourself having to download the overwritten Files all over again!
How to make CDs or MP3s from these Midi Files
It is possible to use the Midi Files to make music/Audio CDs playable on an ordinary CD player. It is important to remember, though, that a Midi File is not the actual sound - in either analogue or digital form - but merely instructions for making the sound (in this respect a Midi File for a musical Work is like a printed musical score, which is instructions to the human player regarding the Work it represents). So, writing a music Midi File to a disk copies the instructions, not the music itself - and thus you cannot make an Audio CD this way because the data you're trying to copy is not Audio data. Accordingly, if you want to use the Midi Files to make an Audio CD you have to add an extra step; you have to play the Midi File so that your computer's Sound System actually generates the sound according to the Midi File instructions, and then while the File is being thus played you have to capture the sound output and save it as a digital Audio File (usually as a WAV File). Once you've got this latter (WAV) File, then that can be burned to CD.
You will need extra software to do all this (Windows Recorder used to do it, but XP and Vista won't play!). I recommend a program called Synthfont - you can get a free download from here. When Synthfont's running, you simply drag and drop into it each midi file you want to hear, and then you select the "Save/Play to File" option - making sure you know where it's going to dump the saved WAV file. And once you have the WAV file, you can burn it to CD using your usually software. This may seem a bit complicated but I assure you that once you get the hang of it it's a piece of cake.
Incidentally, in much the same way you can use the Midi Files to make MP3 Files - it's just like making a CD but while the File is being played you have to capture the sound output and save it as ... an MP3 File. Synthfont can save Files in MP3 format, and once you have the MP3 File, you can do with it as you wish - including burning it to CD.
It may not sound nice
Finally, remember: these Midi Files are provided as a learning aid, and are not intended to be a wonderful musical experience. If you want to hear what a work really sounds like, then go out and buy a copy of the real thing!
Other Rehearsal aids
Finally finally, if you find that my Midi Files are not what you're looking for - if they do not help you to learn the Work you're intending to sing - then you might care to try something slightly different. One business that provides relatively inexpensive voice-specific tape cassettes or CDs is ChoraLine. Their output is in the form of WAV or MP3 Files - actual sound in raw or compressed form - generated by a computer playing the music (a rather better version of what you hear when you play my Midi Files) together with a helpful voice-over that tells you where you are and what's coming next.
Then there's the Italian organization Choralia, which provides a complete package of both voice-emphasised and unemphasised Midi Files - which are also now available in "Virtual Singer" format, in which a synthesised voice sings the actual words - plus software to let you convert them into MP3 Files - that is, actual sound files in a compressed form - and then record these onto CDs (assuming you have a CD writer) playable on any ordinary CD Player. This is for free - though they would like a donation if you're pleased with the result.
And another source of playable and/or downloadable voice-emphasised Files in MP3 format, and in "Virtual Singer" format, is John Hodgson's Website ABRACADENZA. Many of these MP3 Files are in fact prepared from my own Midi Files (so if you find any mistakes they're probably my fault; tell John about them, and if appropriate he'll relay your comments to me).
And if you'd like to try something completely different ... you could listen to someone singing your part with a piano providing the backing. One business that provides relatively inexpensive voice-specific tape cassettes or CDs in this format is Saffron Choral Prompt. This organisation provides cassettes or CDs for many different Choral Works. In each you get someone singing your part, with sufficient backing to place it in context both with the orchestra and with any other voices, plus regular (spoken) indications of where you've got to in the Score; however, you do not necessarily get the whole work, nor even always the whole of any one item, just the sections where you're singing, so it may be rather difficult to fit things together. Still, you do get the words!
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If - as is almost inevitable - you find the occasional mistake (Notes that are Naturals when they should be sharpened or flattened, or raised up or dropped down a tone or three, or are tied but don't link to a target and so sound on and on and on ... or Soprano Files that are in fact Alto ones, Bass Files that you can't hear properly because the emphasis is all wrong, Tenor Files that should but don't exist, bits where the tempo suddenly goes haywire ... and yes, all these have happened in the past), forgive me! If you feel really bad about it you can E-mail me saying where and what the mistake is; maybe I'll put it right [:-)].
One common cause of error messages is my getting the case of a File name wrong - for example, actually calling the File "file.mid" but then carelessly referring to it as "File.mid" ... which makes a case-sensitive Unix-based Server report that the File doesn't exist! This happens quite a lot, I'm afraid, and is the most likely reason for a "page not available" comment from your browser. If you find an instance of this, please let me know, and I'll correct things - but in the interim try converting any file name in the address field into all lower case (or, if that fails, into all upper case)!
Recent corrections and additions
From time to time I make corrections and add new stuff. To see what I may have done along these lines in the past few months, click on recent changes.
I am considering adding Works on a "commission" basis. If you're interested, and want to know more, click here.
Several of my happy customers have been so pleased with the Rehearsal Files downloaded from the Site that they have asked whether I would accept a donation for my efforts. To most of these I have said that their expressed gratitude is enough (!), but more recently I have suggested that a little something, perhaps in the form of a proper, printed, published and commercially-available, Score of a Work I don't yet have on the Site, would be appreciated. So, if you feel that I am due some recompense for the thousands of hours spent preparing the Files, and for the assistance they have given you, then by all means send me the Score for a Work you think should rightly be available on the Site (but bear in mind that a Work you want me to do because you're going to sing it falls into the "Commissions" category!). Drop me a line by E-mail (see the "Comments" section below) telling me what you propose, and if I agree I'll give you an address to which you can post the Score.
There are a number of particular Works for which I'd quite like real, proper, printed Vocal Scores but as yet they haven't come my way, and so far I've been too mean to go out and buy them. These include:-
|Bach|| Cantata 29
Cantata 229 (Komm, Jesu, komm)
. . . and Vocal Scores for any others I don't yet have
|John Dunstable||Veni Sancte Spiritus|
|Hummel||Mass in D major - Op. 111
Thanks to a fan I have a copy of this, but it shows the Vocal parts only,
without the [piano] backing. I can and will be using it, but ... can anyone
direct me to a published version with the backing?
|Liszt||Missa solennis zur Erweihung der Basilika in Gran,
. . . "Gran Festival Mass"
|Victoria||More or less anything well-known
such as "O Magnum Mysterium"
If you happen to have a spare proper Vocal Score for one of these, and would like to donate it to me, then ... hurrah; drop me a line by E-mail (see the "Comments" section below), and I'll give you an address to post it to.
Links to other Sites which may be of interest
Click here to see a number of lists of links which include - in no particular order - Sites from which you can download helpful software (such as a Midi Player of some sort), and Sites to Choirs some of whose Members are believed to be using my Midi Files to help them rehearse.
If you have comments ...
Send comments and mail to the : "John" <J0HN@LEARNCH0RALMUS1C.C0.UK>
(That's been fudged so as to render it less visible to website crawlers. Don't "Control Copy/Insert" it: key it in as it's meant to look, not as it actually is!)
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This page last updated by John on 23/Nov/19