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The Virtual Choir Project 58

An anonymous reader writes "Conductor and composer Eric Whitacre has successfully created a virtual choir using the voices of 185 people who posted their performance on YouTube. The piece that's performed is called 'Sleep,' composed by the conductor himself in 2000. Anyone can join in — all you need is a webcam and a microphone."


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The Virtual Choir Project

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  • Absolutely (Score:3, Funny)

    by imamac ( 1083405 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:57PM (#32079616)
    one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. Coming from a guy with a music degree.)
    • Re:Absolutely (Score:4, Informative)

      by drosboro ( 1046516 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:44PM (#32080880)

      Yes, it's really, really cool. I'm a choir director, and we performed this piece a year or two ago. It's incredibly ambitious to even think of doing something like this across social media - it's not an easy piece to conduct, so it wouldn't be easy to keep the singers synced with each other. You can hear a bit of that any time there's an ending consonant (e.g. on "lux" throughout the piece). Nevertheless, he's created some amazing art with this already great composition.

      And, to echo someone else's sentiments below - the piece is "Lux Aurumque", not "Sleep".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think niconico would take offense... oh wait, "made with youtube", yeah, that's probably a first.

  • I would not have thought of to do it that way. What an elegant way to compose all the videos. Bravo!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pro musicians have been recording tracks asynchronously for ages. The difference is that instead of having a tiny video likeness of themselves put on a YouTube video, they got paid.

  • by DesertJazz ( 656328 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:50PM (#32080090) Homepage
    The composer, Eric Whitacre, has been doing quite a few cool new things integrating multi-media into his works recently. This internet video is the biggest one so far, and I find it absolutely amazing how the project came off. The person who did the video editing did a great job. It's been talked about on CNN, BBC, and now much more imporantly Slashdot! ;-) He's got a pretty faithful following on Facebook.

    If you're into music at all check out some of his compositions. I'm a band person (director), but his choral stuff is amazing. He's also transcribed many of his pieces (including this one) into band works and written a number of orchestral pieces. (October is by far my favorite)

    • You should also check out his new opera/theater/electronica thing called Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings. I recently (warning: shameless bragging ahead) heard him promote it from the stage at Carnegie Hall [], where I performed later that evening [].
  • Beautiful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:52PM (#32080106)

    Normally I flinch at new choral / orchestral music from the past 100 years or so, because it's struck me as avante gard and distonal compared to Beethoven et al.

    But this performance is just beautiful. I love it.

    • Re:Beautiful (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:15PM (#32080298) Homepage

      Eric Whitacre really knows his stuff, which is what makes his music fun to sing and listen. Some stuff he does really well:
        - Create a sort of choral shimmer using notes that are really close to each other. That's a technique that's been really developed in the last 100 years.
        - Use the lower registers of the voices. A lot of composers go with faster-higher-louder to create excitement, but Whitacre has no problem dropping the basses to their low register for something completely different.
        - Choosing his words carefully, and matching them to his musical intentions.
        - Making his lines fairly easy to sing, so the singers have a good chance of really nailing their parts.

      And if you've skipped most of the last century's worth of orchestral and choral music, you've missed a lot of really [] interesting [] styles []. The way to think about it is that there was a lot of experimentation, and some things worked and a lot of things didn't work. Interestingly, now that composers know more about what doesn't work, they've been recently doing more of what does work.

    • You're mistaken. Choral music has largely escaped the atonal mess that largely dominated the mid-to-late 20th century. Most choral composers know how to write music effectively, music that doesn't cater to their own egotistical desire to "push the boundaries", or to the expectations and wishes of a Ph.D supervisor.

      Not saying all contemporary instrumental is crap...there's lots of good stuff out there, to be honest. But contemporary choral music, probably due to the medium, is so much more accessible.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by frog_strat ( 852055 )

        the atonal mess

        Some of us like this stuff. Try playing top 40 stuff over and over to help make it through college. Anyone with a brain will eventually want to hear some fresh and unusual ideas. Schoenberg, Bartok, Webern, Ligeti.

  • Wrong piece (Score:3, Informative)

    by Logarhythmic ( 1082321 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:58PM (#32080148)
    The piece in the video is called Lux Aurumque [], not Sleep. I've actually performed a wind ensemble version of this piece -- it's extremely difficult due to the very delicate and exposed parts, but Whitacre's music is just gorgeous.
    • Indeed, I've preformed Sleep myself and have heard this one preformed before. I was expecting a different piece when I played the video. Not that I'm disappointed however, both are beautiful pieces, and it was really amazing to see something like this actually work out. As one without the time available to practice with a real choir anymore, this would be a great way to get to sing with others.
  • Filtering? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to know how much the audio was manipulated. There's no way you could get that many YouTube videos together and not hear air conditioners running, dogs yapping, babies crying, TVs playing, dishes clanging, microphone hits, etc. whether incidental or not. Add to that the differing audio quality between each person's rig and you'd expect a lot more of a cacophonous result.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DesertJazz ( 656328 )
      Not sure exactly about the filtering, but I know that the singing was recorded with the performers listening and matching with headphones on. I also know there was a TON of entries to get into this video. Whitacre has almost a cult following in the choral world, and many people jumped at the chance. It could be that one of the ways they selected the vocalists was to throw out poor audio files.
    • by fbjon ( 692006 )
      For starters, there is a massive (but quite good) reverb laid on top. Besides the obvious, it has the same effect as soft focus for photos: blends together, smoothes out minor blemishes. Continuous hiss and room noise is not that difficult to remove, although I can still hear some in there. Finally, each individual voice/video doesn't contribute much by itself to the final output, as is expected in a choir. If there's 100 voices, the spurious background noises will be tiny in comparison to the whole.
  • by Senes ( 928228 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:24PM (#32080382)
    This is an old trick, just record in studio (people's homes) and then put it all together for the final mix.
    But still, there is something brilliant and beautiful about this. Not that it reinvents anything, but it does a great job of demonstrating this trick to a new generation of people who can take interest and see what else they can achieve with it.
    • This is an old trick, just record in studio (people's homes) and then put it all together for the final mix.

      How dare you! This isn't just a bunch of separate studio takes stuck together, this is a virtual choir! Oh wait...

  • being a roadie will either be the worst job in history ... or one of the easiest.
  • Very cool but tons of post effects and editing. If this can happen in real-time that'll be awesome.
    • Not technically "real-time" but certainly live...a few years ago I attended a live music performance in Second Life where the trio were around the world, one in Tokyo, one in Georgia, one in a city in Canada doing vocals/harmonica, keyboard and guitar all together.

      They used software that allowed the subsequent performers to hear the first's stream and mix them together for the next. They also had themselves on video (ustream) so you could choose your own camera and watch them all separately from their avat

  • be part of something that can not die

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.