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Music Technology to support Singing


In the study, there are a number of examples of the technology being used to support singing. These include:

- transposing music to more comfortable keys:

Often, people are unable to sing in tune simply because the music is inappropriately pitched for their voice. Digital scores can be displayed, printed, or played back in any key.

- distinct instrumental timbres supporting
inexperienced singers in holding an independent musical line

'A Bell Round, Age 8-12' (from 'The Full Pitcher' will:
a) build confidence in small group singing
b) develop ability to sing (at least) short phrases in two parts
c) provide opportunities to create more complex ad-hoc arrangements

Each part is played back on a different instrument. By way of a challenge. a 7-part version of the round is provided. Can the children hold a part against so many others?

- multi-sensory learning experiences to develop skills in sight-singing

Without concentrated eye involvement with the score as music is heard, studied and sung, music reading ability will not develop.' (Karl.D.Ernst, Threshold To Music, 1974)

Several software applications link auditory, visual and kinaesthetic experiences of the score.

- accompaniments for vocal performance

"The Music Composer software, used to prepare their arrangements, allowed for a range of expression. Accelerandi, ritardandi, pauses of various length, crescendi, diminuendi and various degrees of detachment were all available. This meant that Lisa could demonstrate a number of performance skills..... ....The computer was also used to provide accompaniments in a wide range of performance situations, including public concerts at music festivals."

- backing tracks for vocal improvisation

"Occasionally, someone would vocalise, alternating phrases with me over a repeated vamped accompaniment"

"James rarely sings the tune of anything but likes to improvise vocal effects so, after Sarah's solo, everyone explores ways of using the strummed E minor chord as the accompaniment to a song about railways. James, shortly joined by Robert, supplies the vocal effects and Thomas, who now has the mouse removed from his hand and a chunky pen placed in it, presses the mouse button with his pen, causing the computer to sound a loud blast on a train whistle. James, spurred on by this competition, rises to new heights of virtuosity."

- displaying scores in a choice of staff or sol-fa notation

"It is interesting to note that two of these children (with complex learning difficulties) were not literate, in the general sense. To my astonishment, they had learnt to sight-sing from crotchet and quaver note stems with sol-fa syllables. The option to use sol-fa symbols, afforded by Simplay and, its sister program, Replay, was ideal for these pupils."

Examples of scores displaying sol-fa notation will be found on the Inclusion page

-providing bio-feedback to promote vocal exploration and control

This is not covered in the study because the logistical demands imposed by my equipment, at that time, were better suited to individual tuition than to class-teaching. I did, however, use both a fairly basic voice-to-MIDI converter and a normal microphone linked to an effects processor. These convinced me that they were of great value in eliciting vocal responses from people with little or no speech and improving control. They were also used, very enthusiastically, by young children.

MidiVox', for which the URL is given below, seems to be a much more advanced Voice-to-MIDI device, with very exciting possibilites. However, I could not try it myself, as I could not find anyone in the UK who had one. Anyone out there who's got one and would like to give me a demo?

Explore ICT to support singing at these sites:

The Full Pitcher Music Resources

The 'Online music' section of the site includes pdf resources exemplifying all but the last of the uses described above.


'Voiceworks' is a series of publications to support choral singing, from publisher, Oxford University Press. At this URL, they provide free samples, in the form of PDF and mp3 files. These form a very useful resource for teachers and would-be choral singers.

MidiVox - World's 1st Voice to Midi. Hum, Sing, Scat, Talk, Rap, Croon, Scream - any Midi Synth.

Bio-Sensor Neckband Reads Vocal Cord Vibration, Shape, and Movement directly in Real Time.

Rack Mount Brain Outputs your Voice as Midi, Analogue, Binary, and Gate data.

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