PDA

View Full Version : Choir Breath?


Toxikator
05-25-2005, 06:00 PM
can you make the choir inhale? I think part of the lack of realism with some of the demos comes from the unnatural sliding of notes without any inhale between syllables. Does the choir have inhales?

Thanks in advance,

Tox

Thomas
05-25-2005, 07:46 PM
I asked exactly the same question in a posting in the demos thread.

Here's part of what I said: "My initial reaction, especially listening to Danteís Dream, was the lack of breathing. Does the library have breath samples? What sounded most unnatural to my ears was that phrases lasted too long for singers to just keep singing note after note. Of course a big choir can use ďstaggered breathingĒ which means that there is no place where the whole choir takes a breath, but in a piece like Danteís Dream it would be nice for there to be more space between phrases, and to hear a little breath to make it more human. I especially would have liked a breath at the beginning of the piece and also just before the menís first entry, for example. The silence just before the menís entry and the sudden attack of their first note sounds odd. Another unnatural phrase is the womenís line from .23 to .50 which has no breath or break whatsoever.

I imagine that if there are no breath samples to put in between phrases, there will be a tendency to make notes run into each other, because complete silence between words might sound worse, particualrly when unaccompanied. But this will make it less human, in my opinion."
Since there has not been a response to this question, I am wondering if maybe there are no choir breaths, or "inhales" as you describe them, among the samples. I hope not, because that would be a real pity. How can someone sing without breathing? What goes in must come out, and vice-versa! The real need for breathing samples is to make the vocal phrases sound more realistic, because if every note runs to just before the strike of the next note it sounds very mechnical and unrealistic. However, if there are no breath samples, or inhales to put in the breaks, it will sound strange to have dead silence between samples. It will sound like the mic was turned off and back on, like a bad mix when you try to eliminate breaths in a lead vocal. It needs to sound like the choir mics are on all the time, like a real recording. So if you want to have natural phrasing breaks, you need something to give the feeling that the mic is in the hall and continually recording, even when the choir is not singing. This, of course, refers more to a cappella or lightly accompanied choir arrangements, rather than loud and large orchestrations (which dominate the demo pool).

As we speak I am making some recordings of different lengths and volumes of choirs inhaling, and will put it into a preset instrument to use with Symphonic Choirs. I am using recordings I have made myself, but it seems that others might just sample the breaths from a capella recordings to make their own breathing samples. (Of course, that violates copyright, but how easy would it be to identify a breath from a particular recording?)

To me, breath samples are like fret noise and buzz and scratch samples that sometimes come with other instrument samples. Use of them can often make the sample more realistic.

loogoo
05-25-2005, 08:10 PM
Any good choir is trained to take breaths silently. There should be barely ever any noticeable breaths between words and certainly never between syllables. A professional choir would never dream of preceding an entrance, no matter how loud, with an audible intake of air. After all, you don't expect to hear brass players taking in breath before they blow into their horns.

In this respect, the choir samples are very accurate.

nlamartina
05-25-2005, 08:13 PM
I asked exactly the same question in a posting in the demos thread.

Here's part of what I said:
Since there has not been a response to this question, I am wondering if maybe there are no choir breaths, or "inhales" as you describe them, among the samples. I hope not, because that would be a real pity. How can someone sing without breathing? What goes in must come out, and vice-versa! The real need for breathing samples is to make the vocal phrases sound more realistic, because if every note runs to just before the strike of the next note it sounds very mechnical and unrealistic.

I'd have to disagree with this. I will not miss breath samples simply because there is no need for them, unless you want your choir to sound inexperienced. The breath sound is a result of a singer clamping down on their larynx instead of releasing it and keeping it wide,as they should. Part of good vocal training is learning how to keep one's throat wide open when taking a breath to minimize and preferably eliminate noise during breathing. It should be transparent since breathing punctuates phrases incorrectly, in addition to being detrimental to the longevity of the singer. In a way, it's a lot like the pedal of a piano. Upon listening to a sampled piano, one might be quick to point out that you can't hear the pedal moving.... and you shouldn't. A concert pianist learns to disguise his/her pedalling, just as a singer diminishes his/her breathing.

Ultimately, it's up to the composers using SChoirs to write realistic, singable music if they want it to sound realistic, despite the fact that it's a computer without the same limitations of a human. If you write phrases a mile long with no break, then yeah, it'll sound odd. But if you write concise, realistic phrases with good voice leading and stay inside a reasonable tessitura, there's no reason why it won't sound perfectly believable. Conversly, just because I can write a piano piece that plays 15 notes at a time doesn't mean that I should, regardless if the computer can do that or not. It's all up to the composer.

In short, if it includes breathing samples, I'll be disappointed because it won't reflect the professionalism of the Seattle choir.

Edit: Loogoo, you beat me to it! :)

josejherring
05-25-2005, 08:34 PM
Who would want choir breaths? Any singer that I've ever worked with would be embarresed if they're breathing got recorded. It's distracting. I think that a good space between notes is enough.

Breathing should be silent. Can you hear yourself breathing?

Jose

Thomas
05-25-2005, 08:48 PM
Thanks for your comment on breathing. I will mull it over. I think you may be mistaking what I am saying about breathing. I have just listened to several different recordings of a cappella choirs, all good ones, and I can definitely hear breathing in between phrases. But it is subtle, and admitedly not as loud as one would expect. But the point I am making is that complete silence between phrases sounds very unnatural, and there needs to be something there to give the feeling that the choir is continually singing. Another thing I just noticed when listenening carefully to good recordings of choirs is that some of the singers clearly breath, very quietly, just prior to the onset of attacking glottal stop or vowel-beginning tones. I am not a singing expert, so I don't know what technique this is and why it is required to do this. It sounds like they are breathing out, rather than in, softly as they attack the note. I like hearing this, as well as the very subtle breathing between phrases, which I can definitely hear.

Anyway, I surely want to make Symphonic Choirs sound like good professional choirs, just as you do. Therefore, I am going to sample the sound between phrases of lots of different great choirs and only put those in between the SC notes in a demo, to see if anyone can hear the difference. I will make a recording of the same piece with and without the subtle breathing samples, and let our ears be the judge.

nlamartina
05-25-2005, 09:35 PM
Anyway, I surely want to make Symphonic Choirs sound like good professional choirs, just as you do. Therefore, I am going to sample the sound between phrases of lots of different great choirs and only put those in between the SC notes in a demo, to see if anyone can hear the difference. I will make a recording of the same piece with and without the subtle breathing samples, and let our ears be the judge.

Be sure to post some samples for us when the time comes. I'm interested in hearing what you come up with.

Also, would it be possible to post a snippet of what you were talking about with the breath-like sounds? I should be able to identify what it is. I userstood your words but not what you meant. :)

lgrohn
05-25-2005, 09:41 PM
Noise seeems to be part of realism.

Thomas
05-26-2005, 07:24 AM
NLAMARTINA and LOOGOO and JOSEJHERRING (and others who do not want samples of choirs taking breaths)

I will try putting some gentle samples of breathing in between phrases of Symphonic Choirs and post the demos in the future.

However, in the meantime, I thought I would give you some examples of the type of thing I hear in recordings of choirs. Here is a link to various recordings of choirs in which I can hear the breaths between phrases. They are in different styles, with different choir sizes and mic placements, etc, but it sounds very expressive and human to me to hear the breathing, even when it is very quiet and subtle.

If you listen to these samples, please let me know if you consider any of these choirs "bad", since you say all good choirs have no audible breathing.

However, if you hear the breathing on these recordings and do not mind it, then that is the best demonstration of the type of thing I would be looking for to enhance the Symphonic Choir samples.

https://home.comcast.net/~music_examples/breathing.htm

Syncopator
05-26-2005, 08:34 AM
Any good choir is trained to take breaths silently. There should be barely ever any noticeable breaths between words and certainly never between syllables. A professional choir would never dream of preceding an entrance, no matter how loud, with an audible intake of air. After all, you don't expect to hear brass players taking in breath before they blow into their horns.

In this respect, the choir samples are very accurate.
Dude,

With all due respect, you have NO CLUE what you're talking about. I'm not going to sit here and rattle off specific credentials, but I have worked with choirs and choral groups all over the world -- including here in Hollywood -- for both major feature films, as well as live performances. I have degrees in music, have produced or performed on hundreds of recordings, and have major awards for my work (including choral work), and I have NEVER, EVER heard anyone -- a composer, a producer, nor a conductor -- discuss silent breaths! In every recording I've either produced or have performed on for another producer, breaths were considered an *important* part of making the performance sound natural.

Now, breaths should not sound like *smoker's* breaths -- they shouldn't be raspy/distracting/etc. -- but the *absence* of breaths is *always* considered *unnatural* -- unless you're specifically going for an unnatural effect.

I'm so sick of reading posts in these forums where guys like you mouth off -- with authority! -- about things that are flat-out WRONG. Sorry to be so agitated, but I read your uninformed post, and I immediately had a visceral reaction.

You say "Any good choir is trained to take silent breaths." I'd change that to "Any choir whose ameteur conductor is ignorant is trained to take silent breaths."

If *you* don't want breaths, that's fine! It's your prerogative not to want or use them. But don't pretend to know about "the world of choral music," because what you just posted was a crock of...well, I'll leave it at that.

EWQLSC sounds like a fantastic library -- but it will *not* be very realistic to use in an *exposed* manner without breaths. Within a track? No problem. If the developers didn't think to include breaths, I hope they'll quickly go to their original recordings and record the breaths and add them to the library as an update because breaths are *important*.

Toxikator
05-26-2005, 01:47 PM
that was a mighty lot of asterixes. Nonetheless, I agree. Breathing is an important part of choral music. Brass and woodwind samples don't have breaths because in comparison to a choir the volume of the air versus the volume of the instrumental noise is a huge ratio. With a choir, breaths are much more audible and even if undesirable sometimes necessary. The point is that the notes in the demos trail together too much and something simple like inhales would make all the difference between sample sounds and believable orchestration.

loogoo
05-26-2005, 02:56 PM
I'm so sick of reading posts in these forums where guys like you mouth off -- with authority! -- about things that are flat-out WRONG. Sorry to be so agitated, but I read your uninformed post, and I immediately had a visceral reaction.

You say "Any good choir is trained to take silent breaths." I'd change that to "Any choir whose ameteur conductor is ignorant is trained to take silent breaths."

If *you* don't want breaths, that's fine! It's your prerogative not to want or use them. But don't pretend to know about "the world of choral music," because what you just posted was a crock of...well, I'll leave it at that.



The only crock of... what you implied, is the all-pervasive condescension and patronizing from certain people who can't believe that the world of music doesn't begin and end with "Hollywood".

I assure you my opinions are very well informed, but I am talking to brick walls here so good luck with your work and I will stick to working with live singers.

MacQ
05-26-2005, 03:33 PM
I'm with Syncopator on this one (though maybe not as angrily). Breathing and the sounds of breathing are of HUGE importance to the nuance of a choral work on recording.

And to Thomas, the "breathing" at the beginning of entries is a common technique to remove glottal attack from vowel sounds such as "Aaah". It becomes "Haah" instead, but very subtlely. It's the burst of air through the glottis in the larynx that causes the glottal attack (hence the name), and if you move air before you begin singing (by exhaling), you help to avoid this sudden plosive. Well-trained vocalists do this instinctively, and generally need to be instructed to use a glottal attack for emphasis (where required).

~MacQ

Thomas
05-26-2005, 03:49 PM
LooGoo - did you have a chance to listen to the recordings at

https://home.comcast.net/~music_examples/breathing.htm

I am interested to know if you hear the breathing in the recordings. They are all recordings of "live" singers, and none of the examples are in the "Hollywood" style which you refer to. I hear breathing in every one of them.

What I want to know is whether you consider these to be bad choirs or bad recordings, because of your belief that there should be no audible breaths in choral music.

It seems to me that neither side of this argument should be close-minded. It makes no sense that someone would say they would be "disappointed" if the choir library had breath samples just because they dont' want to use them. If others, (like Toxicator, Syncopator, MacQ, & Thomas, etc) want to have them, why not let them? Nobody's putting a gun to your head to use them yourself. Perhaps this is just a matter of taste, and I think Syncopator's aggressive response to your position is more a reaction against pontificating that there is only one right way to do something, rather than allowing that people have different tastes and there is no right or wrong. In any case, I assume you are only referring to what you think is right in relation to western classical singing, and this is not the only way to sing. Surely you would not claim that the same style and standards of classical singing absolutely must apply to jazz, folk, gospel, ethnic and other styles?

Anyway, I would appreciate a calm and friendly discussion on this subject if you listen and have an opinion on some of the recorded samples mentioned.

I note that the SC library developers have yet to answer the question in this thread, even though there appears to be interest and controversy here. However, I saw in another thread that there can be voiceless vowels sung by the choir, like a whisper. This is not a breath, because the air is going out, not in. But if you try sucking air in, and blowing it out, it actually sounds quite similiar, and therefore it may be possible to use these samples to simulate breathing for those who want them.

neoTypic
05-26-2005, 10:43 PM
*cough* As I may not have the expertise of others on the board I have been singing professionally for a number of years both solo and as a part of numerous choruses. Whether you hear the breathing is dependant on the style, influence of the conductor, the way it's miked, and personal preferences of the singer.

I assure you that you won't hear me inhale while singing a solo from Handel's Messiah from the third row of an auditorium - it may be audible to me, but you're not going to hear it over the orchestra and at that distance. If I'm doing a pop/rock track or a more modern Broadway piece you'll hear it as itís part of the style and glottal attacks are part of the performance. You'll definitely not hear me take a breath as part of a chamber ensemble even if you're two feet from me if I've been instructed by the director to stagger my breathing with the other members of the section.

Again, all dependant on stylistic influence and artistic direction. If you want it Bela D's Scoring Noise 2 will have it, if not no worries, eh? ;)

No reason to get snippy about it. :D

nlamartina
05-26-2005, 11:28 PM
and I have NEVER, EVER heard anyone -- a composer, a producer, nor a conductor -- discuss silent breaths

Did you purposely omit "vocal pedagogist" from that list, or were you just being funny? I find your comments ironic. You get upset at posters that disagree with you in a firm manner and people that appeal to their authority while promoting what you consider to be incorrect information, and yet you... disagree with us in a firm manner and appeal to your authority? I'm all for open conversation on this topic, but you're taking us nowhere. Just because you're a professional doesn't mean that every other professional you meet that disagrees with you is an amateur.

The breathing issue is an artistic option in my opinion, albeit a limited one. Depending on how users intend on utilizing SChoirs, breathing samples may or may not be important. If you're trying to emulate a live concert recording, then breathing, riser creaking, and floor noise might very well be a good addition to your sequencing, but for a professional studio recording, I don't think breathing has any place in it, and I think that going further by adding things like riser noise is doing a disservice to a good recording. When I'm recording and the risers are making noise, I either separate them or have the performers stand on the floor if it can't be fixed. I don't rub my hands in glee and think, "Oh boy! Noise! My recording will sound REALISTIC!" :)

A large problem with this conversation comes from our inability to agree with what audible breathing is. In a capella works, some will be heard regardless of technique since there is no other noise to mask it. Even then it should be minimized or eliminated. But will SChoirs be convincing enough for a capella work? That remains to be seen. With other instruments in the mix, however, the only breathing youíd be able to hear is zombie breath, and itís not only bad technique and detrimental to the recording, but also detrimental to the singersí vocal health.

Donít believe or agree with me on this subject? Hereís a snippet from the leading authority on vocal performance, Dr. Richard Miller (who taught my teachers). Dr. Miller, for those who donít know, teaches at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has literally written the book on modern vocal pedagogy.

From Structure of Singing:

ďAny noise resulting from the intake of breath between syllables indicates improper involvement of either the vocal folds or other parts of the vocal tract... Inspiratory phonation as found in some non-Western languages and as an occasional expressive device in the Teutonic languages and in French, no matter how slight, should be avoided by the singer.Ē

I agree, Synchopator, that audibly breathing (or not) can be a stylistic tool depending on the material, but I disagree that attention should be brought to it. We had different teachers, obviously.

Edit: Thomas, I'll listen to your examples this weekend, and post counter-examples as well. My equipment is packed up right now for a vocal recording gig tomorrow. :)

neoTypic
05-26-2005, 11:48 PM
When I'm recording and the risers are making noise, I either separate them or have the performers stand on the floor if it can't be fixed. I don't rub my hands in glee and think, "Oh boy! Noise! My recording will sound REALISTIC!" :)

*laughs* Bravo. :D

Thomas
05-27-2005, 01:27 AM
NLAMARTINA,

Thank for your comments, and I look forward to your opinion on the recorded examples of choir breaths. If you want to post some ďcounter-examplesĒ please go ahead, but you probably know that I have found plenty of good recordings of choirs where I do not hear any noticeable breathing. I never meant to assert that all choirs have noticeable breathing, but I posted the examples to show that it is not uncommon to hear it in a reasonable amount of professional recordings of fine choirs.

The list of examples of breathing include recordings of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, the Tallis Scholars, the Tavener Consort, the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Choir, the Swingle Singers, the Singers Unlimited, and a few others. Iím sure you, or LooGoo, and others would not say these are ďinexperiencedĒ or ďunprofessionalĒ singers. But they clearly have audible breathing in their recordings.

Perhaps what I hear in these recordings is an acceptable level of breathing which is still the result of minimizing it according to the vocal techniques you cite. That is all I am referring to, not some unnatural gasping and gulping. What I hear is very pleasant and even expressive to my ears.

Because, like you, I can also find examples where I do not hear breathing in recordings of choirs, - I have noticed something in common. That is that the smaller the vocal ensemble and/or the closer the micís the more noticeable the breathing is, and the larger the choir and/or the greater the distance of the micís the less noticeable the breathing is. This makes sense, since the sound of moving air does not carry as well as the actual voice.

Therefore, in using SC with an intimate sound, using the close micís will likely sound more unnatural without breathing samples, and the more distant stage or hall samples will less likely need it. The amount of reverb is important too, because if there is plenty of reverb it fills the space nicely between phrases, but when it dies and there is no sound for a split second is when I noticed the lack of breathing most in one of the demos.

I notice in recordings that the closer the micís the clearer the lyrics are, and the more distant the micís the less intelligible the lyrics are (although this can be a glorious big sound). This also makes perfect sense, because we are only talking about air when we speak of both breaths and intelligibility. Intelligibility is improved by hearing the consonants, and all consonants are some form of air coming out of the singer. Thatís why pop-tops and nylon filters are put in front of lead vocalists standing close to sensitive micís. Breathing is also air, but going in the opposite direction. It stands to reason, then, that if you want to have understandable words, you will most likely get this by placing the micís closer to the singers, and this will correspondingly increase the volume of breaths as well, since the micís will pick up air in either direction when close to the singerís mouth.

Some people have complained on the board that they cannot understand the words of some of the demos, and then others have countered that they cannot even understand lyrics in good live recordings. This is true of some live recordings, but the words are very clear when the micís are closer. If you want a sound in the style of the ultra-close micíing of, say, the Swingle Singers or the Singers Unlimited (included in the samples) it will be nearly impossible to not hear breathing for two obvious reasons. 1) the micís are placed VERY close to the singers and, 2) they are singing very softly overall, so the ratio of the volume of the voice to the sound of the air is much less than a classical singer performing with more volume. However, this style of recording and singing produces understandable lyrics, and if intelligibility is an important requirement, then going for this sound may be the best option for some users of SC, which would also increase the need for breath samples to make this style authentic.

Clearly then, vocal style affects whether breathing is likely to be heard or not. In jazz or pop harmony singing where the singers are singing softly and with less vibrato, trying to gently blend, it is obviously going to increase the amount of audible breathing. Whereas, a chorus of classically trained voices singing with more volume and vibrato is going to have a much higher voice to breath volume ratio, not to mention that these groups are often larger and micíd from a greater distance.

Symphonic Choirs should have plenty of options and styles available to the user, even if those are not needed in all styles of vocal music. I think breath samples are one such option that many will find useful in some instances.

ChrisBouchard
05-27-2005, 06:31 AM
https://home.comcast.net/~music_examples/breathing.htm



Thanks for posting these recordings Thomas. Subtle breaths should certainly be heard in most choir styles. From the EWQLSC demos, I think there are also more pressing areas needing work which also contribute to the lack of realism.

I once thought I could easily make a realistic choir sound font myself with pre recorded syllables and notes. Sadly it turned out a lot harder than I thought, and I gave up. The human voice is far more difficult to recreate with samples than instruments because of the sheer range of timbre, expression & noise. Some EWQLSC demos sounds very impressive indeed. However more than half of them seem to be struggling with realism and need work in the following areas:

- Expression - the volume envelope of a choir is constantly changing
There seemed very little expression and swells in the demos, and even some flat keyboard played notes!
- Attack - the attack of most of the note starts in some demos is far too fast. very off-on.
- Syllables [EDIT - I mean consonants!] - most syllables seem mixed too loud for realism in the large choirs, and too distant in the small groups. although sibilant syllables should be mixed louder. more reverb will help on large ensembles.
- Vowel Modulation - which seems to be missing. I believe this is the key to realism. When a choir sings, the vowel changes at the beginning and end of each word during the lead in and lead out of a syllable. I don't know if this can be programmed, or implemented with crossfade
- Slides - legato pitch slides. Individual singers in a group all change note at different times & speeds,
- Breathing. - as discussed, both the length of phrases & the lack of subtle breath sounds.


I believe EWQLSC could and will improve much further in realism, especially if EW users support the makers with honest feedback on how to improve it. Most of the problems described are patch programming issues which could be addressed in future updates to the library, or MIDI tweaking in the demos.

Thomas
05-27-2005, 09:16 AM
That's an excellent post Chris.

I think you are right - breathing samples (as useful as they would be) are really only the tip of the realism iceberg.

When I listened to the demos, while generally impressed, I was disappointed with the lack of realism, and I think you pinpointed the areas where this is coming from. We will have to wait and see how much control over the parameters you cite are able to be handled by the WordBuilding program, plus a lot of volume mixing - and how much time it will take to program this into a piece of music.

When you say "syllables" in your list, do you actually mean "consonants"? My understanding is that syllables are both the consonant and the vowels, whereas I think you are referring to the relative volume of the consonants to the vowels.

I am interested in your observations about vowel modulation. I think you hit the nail on the head here. That is why the demos sound so mechanical, because no singer can immediatly go to a pure vowel and hold it there until the end, - note after note, - like that. Vowels are modified at each end by the beginning and end consonants of each syllable (if the syllable has both). I know that some of the classical vocal technique purists on this board will say that a good singer can minimize the time it takes to go to and from a consonant to a pure vowel, and that is the standard that classical vocalists strive for. However, this is not a style that is acceptable in all forms of singing, nor is it possible for any singer, however well-trained, to instantly go to and from any consonant to a pure vowel in the way a computer can do it. It is only the speed of the unfoldment that needs to be adjusted for style, not the existence of it. It is a physical fact that the mouth position of a consonant and vowel are different, and there must be some time, even miliseconds, to get to and from the the various positions. Therefore, it may mean that the approach to every vowel may have to be different depending on the consonant that precedes it. That would mean building up a large "dictionary" of WordBuilder commands for every word. All of this is only referring to single pure vowels, and there is more complexity in dipthongs. You are right in concluding that programming vocals on a computer is an inhuman task.

jloeb
05-27-2005, 10:59 AM
You're both right on the money.

As i mentioned earlier, i think the answer may unfortunately lie in wrestling slow vowel-consonant transitions out of the word builder by hearing the transitional phonemes and putting them in manually to lengthen transitions. May not work well, but it could. Alternatively, transitions can be stretched in time using methods available in a variety of software. I threw in for this thing (while it's still $763) and will let you know how it goes.

ChrisBouchard
05-27-2005, 05:57 PM
That's an excellent post Chris.
When you say "syllables" in your list, do you actually mean "consonants"? My understanding is that syllables are both the consonant and the vowels, whereas I think you are referring to the relative volume of the consonants to the vowels.


I do mean consonants, whoops! Very good point about the relative consonant-vowel volumes problem. It's not quite there yet.

jloeb - i'm not quite sure what you mean about the word builder, is that not a bit of a hack? Ideally this should be built into the library. I know that in the freebie Silver Choirs you can use the mod wheel to xfade between eh and ah, so you must be able to do this in SC....?

Vowel modulation and simple volume envelopes seem to be lacking the most in the SC demos so far. I don't know if it's possible to implement, but would be interesting to experiment. Let us know if you get anywhere jloeb!

Toxikator
05-27-2005, 07:31 PM
USAF academy choir - Carol of the Bells (http://www.usafacademyband.com/realaudio/carolbells2.ram)

If you cut the breaths out of this, it would be totally fake-sounding. Do they try to mask it? Yes. But the homan voice must naturally have cut times between syllables and vowels chopped off. The breathing is minimized, just like fret squeak on guitar or microphone leakage on drumkits or keyclacks on a saxophone or any other form of instrument noise. The fact of the matter is that these things are a PART of the instrument sound, just as breathing is a part of singing. If you ever listen to a vocal recording, you'll notice that no professional producer ever cuts breath sounds from a track. Why? they sound natural. The choir should MASK its breathing just as a vocalist should. but dead silence or extended chains of vowels from a seemingly endless supply of air will NOT convince anyone. especially for long notes or fast successions of syllables. If you want your choir to chain all notes infinitely, then don't use breath samples. but the noise of breathing in is the natural end to a large amount of breathing out. vowel modulation, volume control, timbral shifts, these can be controlled with velocy, volume automation, and the wordbuilder. But no breath is a serious lack in the sampleset (though I suspect some clever wordbuilder trickery could make it)

The point is that no matter how you ramble about how a choir SHOULDN'T be heard breathing, an idealized choir will not sound like a real one.

So how about those breaths?

Vincent Bergbahn
10-19-2008, 07:52 PM
http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/showthread.php?t=16379

Peterkjones
10-21-2008, 03:30 AM
Totally agree with you Toxicator. Absolutely the first thing I do with my chorus is to get them to mark up their vocal scores, prime among which is marking the breathing. Paradoxically, it is easier for a large choir to breathe together than to sing together; this allows for a unity of attack which could not be got otherwise. Where a single horn player may silently disguise a breath - one hundred and fifty singers simply can't! (Incidentally, an accomplished oboe player can use his cheeks as a reservoir and play while breathing, making their phrases often of magical length) It also fundamentally alters the nature of the attack. For example the aspirate H at the beginning of the Hallelujah chorus, where it is used, can only be done with everyone in the choir taking a breath at the same time. Contrast this with the common practice of not aspirating the H as in Osanna (i.e. not Hosanna) where the choir may be instructed to take a breath then use a glottal. At present no samples with EC can accurately replicate this because there are no sampled breaths (I believe there are in Emu Classic Spectral Voices). Then there's the articulation where there is deliberately no breath - the so-called slashed slur in marking. I've just conducted Mendelssohn's Lauda Sion (anyone need a score?). The last movement starts Bone pastor, panis vere, Jesu nostri miserere, with the choir singing homophonically. The vocal phrase requires daylight between the second and third words but you can't ask them to breathe every second word as that would sound ridiculous and lead to hyperventilation! (it's a repeated pattern throughout the movement). You therefore have to ask the choir to hold the breath after pastor, make a gap and then breathe after vere. With 150 singers all doing this together it has to be heard, and is a large component in the audience's appreciation of the text, not simply a matter of "reality." Then consider the deliberate singing through of a phrase where nobody in the choir must breathe (and usually make a small crescendo to warm the note up before moving on) etc. etc. There's a huge amount to say on this subject (for anyone who wants to learn!?) and breaths in SC would be a massive bonus. As for vowel modulation...! Another post, another time. Best PKJ

JCL
10-21-2008, 12:40 PM
Choir breathing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKeH3oYkFiw&mode=related&search=

As good as it gets!

joybeanstudios
10-21-2008, 03:56 PM
I don't think this has been mentioned yet and thought it was relevant to the discussion:

http://www.virtuasonic.com/choirbreath.htm

There are audio demos that feature EW products, so it might be of interest.