This past weekend, I was involved in a Mens' Choir concert with Pro Coro Canada here in Edmonton, Alberta. This concert is becoming a regular feature on the Pro Coro season, and has proven to be a crowd favorite, mainly for the original programming and the captivating visual aspects of the performance. Balanced with "serious" choral music, Poulenc, Schubert for example, but there is also a fair amount of avant-garde, never heard before works (often improvised at the concert itself). For example, last year we invited a "electric" cellist to the show and did a few set of improvised tape loop works. It is these works that make the concerts memorable.
This weekend we worked with two electronic music specialists, who brought along all sorts of recording equipment and manipulation devices to create live improvised sets that involved the choir, as well as the audience, and tape loop. It was a huge hit! I had a long chat with one of the electro-musicians about his equipment and software, and it turns out he is beta testing the latest version of Melodyne DNA. Melodyne is a program that can split your recording WAV file, or whatever format you use, and show you exactly which note is being played or sung - even individual notes in a chord. Then, of course, you can change the notes (one at a time) of one instrument or voice, without affecting the rest of the instruments or voices. A major step above other "Autotune" programs, as it works with polyphonic and homophonic single track recordings, rather than only dealing with individual monophonic tracks.
He pointed me to a few YouTube videos that I'd like to share with you. Although these are not choral recordings (I looked, and I couldn't find any) I think you can see the possibilities of editing and fixing individuals wrong notes on recordings.
Of course, the debate then - is this the right thing to do? Personally, I don't think it is, our eternal quest for perfection I think is detrimental to the musical output, however, the geek inside me loved the technology and process, and I'd give anything to be able to play with the software for a day or two.
And then a video made by the engineer I talked to this weekend. Not being a Guns and Roses fan, he decided to alter the the guitar solo in "November Rain" making Slash look as though he were tone deaf: