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Gregorian Chant - how to create this?

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napoleonboot
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One of musical interests is creating Iron Maiden covers with a friend of mine.

Currenly I am working on their longest ever track "Sign Of The Cross". It starts with Gregorian Chant, which is sung by a specialised choir on the original record. I intend to try to reprodue it by multitracking. Are there any particular techniques I should think about in doing that which are particular to that style?

I'm nothing if not ambitious!

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One of musical interests is creating Iron Maiden covers with a friend of mine.

Currenly I am working on their longest ever track "Sign Of The Cross". It starts with Gregorian Chant, which is sung by a specialised choir on the original record. I intend to try to reprodue it by multitracking. Are there any particular techniques I should think about in doing that which are particular to that style?

I'm nothing if not ambitious!

guitargeorge: chant is sung with a very legato, easy tone. Notes are in groups of 2 and 3, and each phrase has a slight accelerando toward the high point and then relaxes just a wee bit.

About 10 years ago there was an excellent recording released, called 'Chant', which should still be widely available. Pick up a copy, and listen to the whole thing several times. By then, you will get the feel of it.

To work the piece into your voice, its helpful to sing entire phrases on 1 vowel, with the best legato you can manage. The notes should flow from one to the next, with no separation other than when you breathe. In essence, your voice is a legato instrument.

When you have incorporated the legato, return to the text and sing just the vowels... leave out the consonants. This is somewhat funny to do, an may cause laughter amongst those listening, but the practice is invaluable in developing rapid vowel changes, in -time with the music.

Finally, re-add the consonants, and work for the same connection between the vowels... as much as is possible when consonants are present.

I hope this is helpful.

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Steven: that's interesting! Can you give us any tips on the recording process itself? How do they record choirs like these nowadays and how can you make such recording with one voice, layering? Would you record it in a wide panorama or would you put the voices near the centre and add the feel of cathedral space by some kind of long reverb?

Here's a nice example of one man doing the whole gregorian style choir - Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian:

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Steven: that's interesting! Can you give us any tips on the recording process itself? How do they record choirs like these nowadays and how can you make such recording with one voice, layering? Would you record it in a wide panorama or would you put the voices near the centre and add the feel of cathedral space by some kind of long reverb?

Here's a nice example of one man doing the whole gregorian style choir - Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian:

DJDeth: Recording of choirs 'these days' is best done in moderately resonant rectangular rooms (~ 2 secs natural reverb, shoebox shape, high ceiling) and then careful mic placement.

The mic placement puts a stereo cardioid pair fairly close, say 15 ft, from the choral group, and then another pair (omnidirectional) out in the room at a distance, 75-100 feet away. The sound engineer will adjust the particular locations so that the impression in the recording is as close to possible of the actual experience of the listener in the room, which is a subjective balance of the 'presence' of the voices with the 'space' of the room.

There is another option with a more resonant room, which is simply to put a pair of stereo supercardioid mics out 30-40 feet in the room from the choir, about ear-distance apart (~6 in), and place them at a distance from the choir that has the right balance of presence and reverb that the engineer desires. This gives a very 'cathedral' or 'stone chapel' sound, quite appropriate for this kind of music.

In my own overdubbed recordings, I have used mono close-mic in a dead room, and then added reverb digitally, blending the balance of the raw and processed sound to my taste. I have a few recordings using this technique on my profile page (http://www.themodernvocalist.com/profile/StevenFraser). The 'Salvation is Created' and 'Steal Away' show you the result The 2nd one has some chant quotes that I think you will like. These are 4-part harmony arrangements, rather than just the 1 melody used in chant, but you will get the idea. I hope this is helpful.

edit: On the overdubs, I use 6 or 7 recordings of each part, blended together.

2nd edit:Also, in mixing, I spaced the 'parts' variously in the sound field, to enhance the spatial effect of the performance.

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I like "Oh Lord, Most Holy" the best. Something about melody. Sure, it's not chanty like the ones you highlighted, here.

And, of course, proof that you not only talk the talk, you walk the walk.

You are a blessing to us all, Steven and thank you for your tireless ability to share your insights. As I have said elsewhere, whenever you post, you hand over the keys to the kingdom. All anyone has to do is read and learn. That's all.

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I like "Oh Lord, Most Holy" the best. Something about melody. Sure, it's not chanty like the ones you highlighted, here.

Ronws: you are very kind. I like the melody of the Franck piece, too, though I am a harmaniac as well. The whole piece is put together nicely. 15 years ago, I was in a male quartet that did this arrangement in concert. Its been one of my faves ever since.

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I like the melody of the Franck piece, too, though I am a harmaniac as well. The whole piece is put together nicely. 15 years ago, I was in a male quartet that did this arrangement in concert. Its been one of my faves ever since.

I like that word, harmaniac and will be misappropriating for my own use.

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