How can you accelerate the speed, accuracy, and quality of learning songs for performance situations?

On this blog I share my 'learning adventures' as I continue to improve my performance as a singer.

I share web resources I find helpful, and reflect on my experience using various technologies and ideas.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

MY PERFORMANCE: 'Gute Nacht' from Schubert's 'Die Winterreise'

Performed at New Zealand Aria Competition, Rotorua, 2008. Singer: Peter Mellalieu. Pianist Rosie BARNES.

Gute Nacht introduces the song cycle. The singer announces his determination to quit the house in which he has been living as an apprentice. The daughter has betrayed his love. He anticipates the desolation of both the physical and metaphysical winter journey he is about to undertake across the snow and following the random tracks of wild animals. He leaves a final note on the doorway to remind the woman of his love for her: "Good Night"

Uploading a song for others to hear - Choosing a video hosting site

What's a reliable method for presenting a video recording on Blogger?

I seek a method that is easy to use, fast, and gives predicable results.

Three solutions come readily to mind. I will investigate each and present my recommendation for 'technology challenged' song makers.
  1. Using the 'video upload' feature when you create a Blogger posting.
  2. Using a link to a video uploaded to Google Video
  3. Embedding a video from YouTube
Alternative 1 would appear to offer the simplest approach. But it is not reliable. Alternative 3, using YouTube is slightly less simple, but in my limited experience is reliable.

Here is my more detailed evaluation.

1. Using the 'video upload' feature

This is the simplest option. But there are two disadvantages:
  1. The video is held on Google Video in a 'private' capacity. So that means people cannot find your video directly, only indirectly via your blog entry.
  2. I have attempted to use this feature several times. But the result was failure. I received this message:

    Sorry, there was an error uploading your video. Please contact support and include the following information: Blog Id:8042171324923002958

I followed the 'contact support' link. That took me to a blog site about help with Blogger. I found other people had faced the same problem... which sometimes became resolved in a random way. The Wikipedia entry for 'Google video' also stated the following criticism:

The video uploading tool also receives various complaints, due to its "Uploading failed" error message which seems to appear in random cases without any explanation why the upload was not successful. This message sometimes also appears when the upload was successful which can be problematic as the same video may be uploaded again. Google has not yet addressed this issue.

Furthermore, from the Wikipedia discussion of Google Video, it appears that the development strategy is to reduce emphasis on video archiving, and focus on Google's core strength of providing an index to videos from other sources, such as YouYube. (Which Google happens to have bought recently for a lot of money)

Conclusion: Abandon Options 1 and 2 as being unreliable, and a strategic dead end. So now I evaluate YouTube.

3. Embedding a video from YouTube
YouTube is by far the most frequently visited site for video uploads. According to a comparison of video hosting sites, YouTube received 52,000,000 Monthly Unique Visitors (US), compared with the next highest site (9,200,000), and Google Video (4,800,000).

Once you have a video stored on YouTube, it is easy to include that video as part of your Blogger posting. The technical term is 'embedding'.

On the web page showing the video that you want, note the following box, containing the item 'Embed' at the bottom.

Now, Create a new posting in Blogger. Whilst in Compose mode (the default), Copy the text to the left of the 'Embed' from YouTube. Now Paste into your Blogger Compose pane. You should see several lines of HTML gobbledygook.

Save Now your draft. Check all is correct with the Paste by using Preview.

In an earlier posting, I demonstrate embedding a video of Gute Nacht from YouTube, sung by Dietrich Fischer Dieskau.

More later on my evaluation of YouTube use in Blogger.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A favourite song: Gute Nacht from Schubert's Winterreise

One of my long-time favourite pieces of music is Schubert's 'Winterreise'. The music tells of a betrayed lover who departs her mother's home for both a physical and tortuous metaphysical journey across the cold snows of winter.

Here is but one of sixty versions of the first song in the cycle, 'Gute Nacht', from YouTube. This is a 1966 version sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

My favourite version is the DVD of Ian Bostridge with Stage Direction by David Alden.

In a future post, I'll present my own performance presented the NZ Aria competition. I'll also outline some of the resources I found helpful in preparing this song, and the challenges I dealt with.

A set of piano accompaniments for american arts songs

Index of /American Art Songs CD

This is an index of accompaniments to a delightful set of American Art Songs. I recently performed 'When I have sung my songs'. Now I am working on Barber's 'Sure on this shining night', and if I like it, I'll attempt the playful 'The monk and his cat'.

I found this index using the Google music tool search box. I have included this search tool on my blog main page.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Mynstrel announces his blog

It's summer new year recreation time here in Auckland, New Zealand. I spent the morning on 'trainer wheels' learning to sing Samuel BARBER's 'Sure on this shining night'. It's a beautiful melody, based on a poem by James AGEE.

This afternoon, I completed research to determine which blog tool to use. I have been using iWeb (part of Apple iLife) for several blogs. However, I wanted a blog to which I could send clippings directly from Clipmarks. That left me with the choice of WordPress and Blogger. I chose Blogger as simple to use, and accessible from any computer.

I mentioned 'trainer wheels'. Since I began the current project two days ago I have learned the words of the poem by memory. I have researched the context for the poem. I have an accompaniment track. And I have the full music scanned into Smartscore. So I can rehearse in a lower key than my final perfoprmance key. Now my challenge is to match up all the elemnets: the words, the rhythm, and pitch. Later will come interpretation. Tomorrow I'll post a recording of my progress so far.

In future blog entries, I'll discuss the technologies I use as a singer to learn and perform my songs. I'll also present progress on my career as a singer such as my recent participation in the NZ Aria Competition. The photo shows my first professional engagement as a choral singer in Llandaff Cathedral Parish Choir, under Harry JOYCE, around 1962 - 1966.