Resources for Music during a Time of Quarantine

Recently Music, Liturgy, and the Arts sent out a request through social media as well as by invitation for musicians to complete a survey as to how they are creating music during this time of quarantine. We were grateful to receive over fifty responses which detail the many online resources being used. We have listed them here, some with a personal recommendation for use. We hope these will be useful to you in the coming weeks. Please contact us if you have others and we will publish.

ACAPELLA/Digital Audio Editing Software https://www.mixcord.co/pages/acapella

Record, edit and share original music all from your mobile device.  Sing, play and collaborate with up to 9 instruments and/or musicians.  Record multiple users’ audio and video tracks, and sync them to create one unique track.  Optimize sound with EQ, noise gate and processor. There is a version at no cost and a pro-version for $9.99/month.

From the Dr. Ellen Koziel, Church of the Holy Communion, Memphis, TN – After looking at several options, music director Dr. David Ouzts chose the Acapella app from PicPlayPost. Based on positive reviews from the internet as well as fellow church musicians, this platform appeared to meet the needs of this project. Dr. Ouzts set up a recording schedule for the staff singers in the choir. Each singer was given a four-hour window to record their part of the arrangement and send it to the next person. Two choir members were scheduled for each day beginning on Monday and ending on Wednesday. He recorded his improvised accompaniment to the unison hymn “Now the Green Blade Riseth” on Sunday afternoon and uploaded it to Dropbox. Assistant music director Dr. Ellen Koziel was scheduled to upload it into the app Sunday evening, then share the project with the next person on the schedule. The last person is tasked with adjusting the balance of the voices and accompaniment.

Dr. Ouzts provided the following directions for the first Acapella app project: 1) You must have headphones/earbuds/headset with a mic (the ones that came with your phone are the easiest). A gaming headset works best.2) After Box #1 records, that singer shares/collaborates with Box #2. 3) Be sure to touch the appropriate box in which to make your video. Be careful to not to record in a box with someone else’s picture, or you will record OVER them. 4) Set the Acapella app metronome to the metronome marking on the printed music. You will hear the metronome in your headphones, but the metronome sound will not record. 5) Be sure to listen to your video before uploading to the project. If the sound is distorted, lower the mic level in the Acapella app and record again. 6) As the last person must do the sound balancing, we will ask Donavon to do that for us. Probably only the accompaniment and the collected vocal recordings will need to be balanced.

Since the organist was visible during the recording of the accompaniment, he gave entrance and tempo cues so we did not use the metronome provided in the app as suggested in step #4 above. This allowed for more flexibility with the tempo including a slight ritard at the end of the piece.

Difficulties encountered by the participants included confusion about sharing the project with the next person. In one case, permission was needed to collaborate the in-progress recording. The procedure for collaborating includes several steps that are not, at first, apparent on the screen

ADOBE AUDITION/Digital Audio Editing Software / https://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1e321qrA6QIVCYizCh2tjgW8EAAYASAAEgJidvD_BwE&sdid=KKQPG&mv=search&ef_id=EAIaIQobChMI1e321qrA6QIVCYizCh2tjgW8EAAYASAAEgJidvD_BwE:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!3085!3!379243313648!e!!g!!adobe%20audition

Audition is a comprehensive toolset that includes multitrack, waveform, and spectral display for creating, mixing, editing, and restoring audio content. This powerful audio workstation is designed to accelerate video production workflows and audio finishing — and deliver a polished mix with pristine sound. It is available by subscription for $20.99/month.

Adobe Premier/https://www.adobe.com/products/premiere.html

Premiere Pro is the industry-leading video editing software for film, TV, and the web. Creative tools, integration with other apps and services, and the power of Adobe Sensei help you craft footage into polished films and videos. With Premiere Rush you can create and edit new projects from any device. It is available by subscription for $20.99/month.

AUDACITY/  www.audacityteam.org

Audacity can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from other media. Import, edit, and combine sound files. You can export your recordings in many different file formats, including multiple files at once.  It supports 16-bit, 24-bit and 32-bit. Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering. Editing is easy with Cut, Copy, Paste and Delete.  Free.

BLUE YETI MIC https://www.bluedesigns.com/products/yeti/

Professional multi-pattern USB mic for recording and streaming. Yeti condenser microphones produce pristine, studio-quality recordings with legendary ease. And four different pattern settings offer incredible flexibility so you can record vocals for music, podcasts, Twitch streaming, YouTube videos, or even cryptozoology lectures in ways that would normally require multiple microphones. Whether you’re recording at home, on the road, or in the Himalayas, Yeti helps you produce studio-quality recordings every time. It may be purchased for $129.

EPOC CAM https://apps.apple.com/us/app/epoccam-webcam-for-mac-and-pc/id449133483/ APPLE/PC

EpocCam works with Zoom, Teams, Skype and other apps on both Mac and Windows. Stream your online lecture, gameplay or vlog with wireless high definition webcam. With over 5 million users EpocCam is the most popular webcam app. EpocCam transforms your iOS device into a full featured webcam for Windows and macOS, completely replacing USB-webcam or adding another angle to your integrated camera. Free.

FINAL CUT PRO/Apple App Store

Final Cut Pro combines revolutionary video editing with powerful media organization and incredible performance to let you create at the speed of thought. $299.

LOGIC PRO X/https://www.apple.com/logic-pro/APPLE

Logic Pro X is the most advanced version of Logic ever. Sophisticated tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing are built around a modern interface that’s designed to get creative results quickly and also deliver more power whenever it’s needed. Logic Pro X includes a massive collection of instruments, effects, and loops, providing a complete toolkit to create amazing-sounding music. $199.

From Jason Abel, Christ Church, Alexandria, VA – I use Logic Pro X to help edit audio recordings. It is like Apple’s GarageBand, but a big step up. I use it to help separate tracks of music we’ve recorded, eliminate some background noises, and export to a file for us to share in our virtual worship services. The program offers a 90 day free trial, and the cost of the program, I believe is about $200. I only know how to use about 1% of what it is capable of doing unfortunately. Fortunately, there are ample YouTube videos that offer some guidance on how to do things in the program. It might be the case where I bought a custom outfitted yacht when all I really needed a simple rowboat. Regardless, it helps me to do what I need to do!

LOGITECH/ https://www.logitech.com/en-us/Windows

From Suzanne Daniel, Grace Church, Yorktown, VA – We worship in two spaces, church and parish hall, and are using both for our livestreams.  We are using a Logitech c930 camera in both spaces for video.  We got it years ago, though is still a current model. The video quality is quite good (supports up to 1080p).  It’s easy to plug in to a computer and use for streaming or a Zoom meeting. You can adjust the focus, zoom and even some angles through computer settings, and also through the settings in different programs. One of the good surprises is that the built in microphone is also good for capturing the organ (and in the past, a singing congregation), and other music. We use the built-in mic for music when our service is in the church, with organ. If you are streaming from a computer, it’s a great choice. This model is not an option if you want an external camera to use with an iPad, or other tablet, or phone.

OBS / Software for video recording / https://obsproject.com

Windows/Mac/ Free

MEVO/ https://mevo.com / Plans start at $15/month

For livestreaming.  Experience HD video, 1080p streaming, and multi-directional audio. Plus, thanks to an HDR sensor with a larger pixel size (2.9um), Mevo Start delivers strong low-light performance.

REAPER/ https://www.reaper.fm/ $60 (Discounted license for non-profits)

Reaper is a complete digital audio production application for computers, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset.

From Randolph Walker, St. Elizabeth’s, Roanoke, VA – I have produced hymns using the Reaper digital audio workstation. It is a audio recording program that allows multiple voices or instruments to be recorded and mixed. The download costs $60. I run it on Windows 10.  The production of a hymn goes like this. I record the organ part onto Reaper. As keyboard is not my strongest instrument, I record the right hand and left hand separately. Other instruments could be added if desired. The instrumental recording is converted to an mp3 which I email to one of my singers, Pam. While listening to the organ part on Device A, Pam sings the hymn. Her husband video-records her performance on another device. They send me a link to their video which I download.  Using a video editing program–I use Adobe Premiere Elements, but there are many out there that will work–I insert Pam’s video into our worship service video. Either I use her video as is, or I can add my instrumental track underneath her for a fuller sound.

SPIRE MUSIC RECORDER AND STUDIO / Apple App Store / FREE

Spire combines award-winning iZotope audio processing with multitrack recording to make importing a beat, layering vocals, collaborating with a producer, and sharing your song easier than ever.  When you’re ready to record, there’s no need to waste time manually setting your levels and EQ. In seconds, Spire’s Soundcheck detects your voice or instrument, automatically sets your input level, and sculpts your tone based on the instrument. Spire ensures that your vocal takes always sound great in the mix.

From Kathy McKee, St. Bede’s, Menlo Park, CA – Our bass soloist introduced me to an app called Spire, which was designed to work with a suite of home recording studio hardware, but is also very useful on its own.  It’s a free app available for both Android and Apple devices. The app allows one musician,to record a track and then send it on to another either as an m4a attachment to an email or text, or by a “Share” option that sends the track to the Spire cloud and notifies the recipient that the file is available. The receiving musician can add his or her instrument or voice to the original; deleting unwanted takes is easy, and there is even an internal metronome should it be needed to assist with ensemble.  Once the second musician has made his/her contribution the file can be sent on by text or email (in which case Spire combines the two tracks into one) or sent by the ‘Share’ option, which keeps the tracks as separate entities.  The latter option allows for the individual tracks to be adjusted for volume, focus, and channel (RL) which we’ve found very helpful when dealing with voices of different sizes. The app is mostly intuitive, but the learning curve has proven daunting for some of the less technologically advanced.  Thus far we’ve used the app successfully for hymns, service music, and anthems that are for the most part homophonic.  We have not yet done complicated polyphony.  The Spire app does a much better job of recording than the Voice Memo app on most phones and tablets, and has an option to use an external microphone if one has such equipment.  Once the project is complete with all voices and instruments added in, there is an option for saving the finished project as an HD file, which gives better sound quality but will be a big file, usually better shared via Dropbox or some other cloud device, not email or text. The congregant who is serving as our Zoom worship host has not had any trouble at all playing the recordings compiled on Spire for our Sunday Zoom worship.