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.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some Lieder composers from the Old and New worlds

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The Auckland Lieder Group Inc - Programme 2011

Franz SchubertImage via Wikipedia

Date, Theme, Organiser, Phone contact (Auckland, NZ)
  • Feb 27    Bird songs    Karen STANILAND 09-810 9516
  • Mar 27    Lands and countries    Hilary NOBES 09-846 3433
  • May 1    Young singers invitation    Fay McNEIL 09-827 8872
  • May 29    Schubert    Valerie MUIR 09-520 1981
  • Jun 26    Finzi, Howells, and Venables    Laurel BARRINGTON  09- 828 8637
  • Jul 24    Celestial Heavens    Dianne HARVEY 09-813 6929
  • Aug 28    Songs from New Worlds    Peter MELLALIEU 021 420 118
  • Sep 25    Spring
  • gardens    Bryony JAGGER 630 7183
  • Oct 30    Lisztomania    Geoffrey HINDS 09- 630 3267
  • Nov 27    Morning, noon and night (+AGM)    William GREEN 021 298 7283
Each month’s programme organiser establishes a theme and invites members to present songs elaborating the theme. Liberal and licentious interpretation of the theme is welcome subject  to the programme organiser’s approval! Performance is generally restricted to members.

About the Auckland Lieder Group Inc: see here.

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The Auckland Lieder Group Inc - Aims and Officers

Auckland Harbour Bridge. The harbour bridge fr...Image via WikipediaThe Auckland Lieder Group Inc promotes performance, education and interest in fine art song including German lieder. Our focus is on exploration, experimentation, and constructive feedback.

Concerts are held in pleasant private homes around the greater Auckland region, typically on the fourth Sunday of each month. Concert locations are advised by monthly newsletter or email.

Each month’s programme organiser establishes a theme and invites members to present songs elaborating the theme. Liberal and licentious interpretation of the theme is welcome subject  to the programme organiser’s approval! Performance is generally restricted to members.

Concerts normally commence at 7:15 pm for 7:30 pm start. Guests are especially welcome. To assist in catering and seating arrangements, please advise the evening’s organiser of your intention to perform or attend. A door charge to cover supper costs of $5 is charged guests.

Members receive a copy of the society’s rules and membership list. The list designates pianists and other instrumentalists available for accompanying singers.

Programme 2011 here

Examples of Art song and Lieder composers here

President - Geoffrey HINDS - 09-630 3267
Treasurer - Hilary NOBES - 09-846 3433
Secretary - Valerie MUIR - 09-520 1981
Vice-President - Karen STANILAND - 09-810 9516

Claire & John GEDDES - 09-817 6668
William GREEN - 021-298 7283
Dianne HARVEY - 09-813 6929
Bryony JAGGER - 09-630 7183
Peter MELLALIEU - 021-420 118

General inquiries in the first instance should be addressed to:

The Secretary, ℅ Valerie Muir, 3 Otahuri Crescent, Remuera, Auckland 1050

Email and web inquiries

Facebook: search for AKLGNZ

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The lip-sync problem in digital television: a demonstration and solution

Do you find on your TV that people’s lips move after you have heard the words spoken? This is the lip-sync problem. There are several causes, and several solutions. The video demonstrates the lip sync problem and presents a solution based on using a modestly-priced little brown box.

First, I present several experiments that demonstrate the lip sync problem. Next, I show the solution I implemented and several confirmation checks. After the demonstration I explain why the solution achieves its results.
Watch the demonstration lipsync error video on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTgC4J3UPgs

To conduct the experiments, I replay the same piece of video material from a digital video recorder (MySky HD) to the television (Samsung LED) and stereo amplifier system (Denon 500 PMA). A series of figures shows the equipment set-up for each demonstration. I located a home video camera in front of the TV to record what I saw and what I heard. The video image is not great! However, the video image is sufficient to observe the lip sync problem and the effectiveness of the solution.

Why does the solution work? The modern digital TV requires around 50 - 200 milliseconds to process the digital data it receives from a signal source, and display the image on the LED screen. There are many reasons for this delay. (See LCD Input Lag / Video Delay measurement ) The traditional analogue TV appears not to have possessed this delay ‘feature’ to a level that is noticeable. Furthermore, the higher quality image, and/or larger size of modern TVs renders the problem more apparent.

Consequently,  if you route the sound output from your signal source - such as a digital video recorder - to your hi-fi stereo amplifier system, you hear the sound BEFORE the digital TV has processed and presented the image. 200 milliseconds is ⅕ th of a second. That is a very small time period. However, the problem it caused was noticeable immediately to me when I upgraded from our 1980s vintage television earlier this year to a Samsung LED TV. You will see and hear the delay in the demonstration video, Experiments 1, and 2.

Fortunately, my Samsung digital TV provides an optical digital audio output that appears to be synchronized closely with the delayed TV image. Consequently, to solve the problem, you must take the digital audio signal output from the TV into your hi-fi stereo system. I credit the MySky technician who installed the MySky High Definition digital recorder for that solution strategy. Experiment 3 shows how the audio signal broadcast from the TV is more closely synchronized with the video image … However, the sound quality is rather unacceptable since it is produced from small 2 x 10 Watt speakers in the TV, rather than my 2 x 130 Watt Denon hi-fi with KEF speakers!

My hi-fi is a classic 1980s vintage Denon 500 PMA hi-fi amplifier. Consequently, the Denon amp accepts only analogue audio input, via RCA cables. Rather than purchase a new digital surround-sound hi-fi system, I wished to retain this vintage legacy system for several reasons. The Denon is not broken. It sound great. Furthermore, it provides a key component of the method I use to converting my vinyl LP collection into a digital format via a Zoom H4n Digital Recorder - but that’s another story.

To the rescue comes a little brown box that converts digital audio signals to analogue signals. In my case, I purchased an AC1603 Coaxial/Optical to R/L audio converter sourced via TradeMe, but ultimately supplied by Electus Distribution Pty Ltd, NSW Australia, http://www.electusdistribution.com.au. You also require a digital optical cable and an RCA Right and Left channel cable, male-male connectors.
Connect the audio converter between the TV and your hi-fi system.  The video segment ‘Solution’ demonstrates the functioning of the digital-audio converter, and shows better synchronization between what you see (the lips) and hear. The ‘Check’ demonstration shows sound broadcast through both the TV and hi-fi. There is a much reduced, but acceptable delay between the two sound sources.
 High quality RCA connectors of the Image via Wikipedia
A comprehensive solution
Once you have this system installed, you should reroute your DVD and other audio-video signals first to the TV rather than through your hi-fi system. You must route BOTH the audio and video signals to the TV, so that the audio signal is relayed back to your hi-fi system. You will then achieve better synchronization of audio and video from these additional sources when you play the sound through your hi-fi system.

This set-up enabled me to connect an AppleTV. This little black box connects via digital HDMI cable to the TV, and behaves like an additional audio-visual input. Now I can surf on my TV Youtube and Flickr from the comfort of my couch, listen in highest hi-fi to my iTunes music collection, and view in brilliant colour the photo albums stored on my computer. The AppleTV is a pure digital device. It connects only to your TV via a HDMI cable. Without the setup I describe above, I would not have been able to use the AppleTV through my hi-fi system, which would defeat much of the purpose of the AppleTV box for relaying the iTunes collection to the hi-fi.

Coaxial/Optical Digital to R/L audio converter $NZ 84.50 including courier postage $5.00.
Digital optical cable, 2 metre, $NZ 25 including courier postage $5.00
Total: $NZ 110
If you are not so fortunate with TradeMe, you can order a solution from Australia with total cost about $150. Try http://www.converters.tv/

Technical note
We assume that there is perfect synchronization between the video and audio image recorded on the video camera. We also assume that there are no losses in synchronization during the creation of the movie from iMovie, the upload and processing by YouTube, and your viewing of the video over the internet! The demonstration works satisfactorily on my computer!
I may have been slightly hyperbolic about my estimate of my TV’s video processing delay I estimated 200 milliseconds. The point is, I notice the delay, and some readers/viewers will also notice the delay. Apparently, some people can notice a delay of 40 milliseconds. Various hobbyists and gamers measure and publish the delay and a report from Stanford University report on how the delay affects peoples’ perceptions of the message presented. See Reeves & Voelker (1993), LCD HDTV Input Lag Tests, and LCD Input Lag / Video Delay measurement, (below).

I have viewed the lip-sync video on YouTube. If you watch it whilst downloading, you get lip-sync failure throughout the whole video! Wait for the video to download before playing it!

Equipment used
  • Television: Samsung LED TV UA32.B6000, 32 inch(!), 2 x 10 Watt, 1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz
  • Digital recorder: MySky HDi
  • HiFi amplifier: Denon PMA-500V 2 x 130 Watt
  • Digital-analogue converter: AC1603 Coaxial/Optical to R/L audio converter
  • Video camera: Panasonic 3CCD PV-GS150
  • Microphone: Zoom H4n Handy Recorder
Further reading
Delay measurement and effects
LCD Input Lag / Video Delay measurement (PC & console games responsiveness) - AVForums.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.avforums.com/forums/lcd-led-lcd-tvs/612503-lcd-input-lag-video-delay-measurement-pc-console-games-responsiveness.html
LCD HDTV Input Lag Tests. (2008, September 8). ARogan. Retrieved November 18, 2010, from http://blog.arogan.com/2008/09/lcd-hdtv-input-lag-tests.html
Reeves, B., & Voelker, D. (1993, October). Effects of Audio-Video Asynchrony on Viewer’s Memory, Evaluation of Content and Detection Ability - Research Report Prepared for 
Pixel Instruments. Stanford University. Retrieved 18 November, 2010, from http://www.lipfix.com/file/doc/stanfordresearch.pdf

More advanced solutions: Audio delay boxes
In some cases the miss-match between audio and video signal originates in the source signals. For instance, DVD audio tracks may be out of sync with the video track. In these cases, more sophisticated solutions are available. An audio delay box can be used to match the audio and video signals whatever and whenever the source is transmitted.

These are rather more expensive solutions. For example, see
AD-100 Audio Delay Box. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.datavideo.us/products/tbcs-and-audio-delay/ad-100-audio-delay-box.html
Lip-Sync Error Technical Details. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 18, 2010, from http://www.lipfix.com/technical_details.html
Lip-Sync Error? Felston DD740. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.lipfix.com/lip_sync_error.html
Lip Sync Error Fix. Digital Audio Delay - Plasma TV, LCD, DLP - Felston. (n.d.).  Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.felston.com/
An intermediate-price solution uses a standard digital audio effects processor. Not quite so user-friendly to use as the Felston approach.
Possible cheap lip sync solution (for non lip sync equipped AV amps) - AVForums.com. (n.d.).  Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.avforums.com/forums/av-amplifiers-receivers/379273-possible-cheap-lip-sync-solution-non-lip-sync-equipped-av-amps.html
BEHRINGER: FEX800. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/FEX800.aspx

Digital to analogue audio converters
HDTV, DVI, HDMI, VGA, PAL, NTSC, CGA, EGA, RGB Video Scan Converters Sales. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://www.converters.tv/
Digital to Analog Decoder, Converts digital Audio to analog audio, Gefen TV GTV-DD-2AA. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.ramelectronics.net/audio-video/audio-converters-extenders/analog-to-digital-digital-to-analog/digital-to-analog-decoder-gtv-dd-2-aa/prodGTVDD2AA.html
GefenTV+Digital+Audio++to+Analog+Adapter. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 4, 2010, from http://www.gefen.com/gefentv/gtvproduct.jsp?prod_id=5279
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Captain Stratton's Fancy by Peter Warlock (1894 - 1930)

JohnMasefield1912Image via WikipediaA song performed as part of a concert themed around "Drinking songs". Auckland Lieder Group, 24 October, 2010. Auckland.

Text by John Masefield
Score manuscript: Augener, 1922

The Peter Warlock Page. (n.d.). . Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www.peterwarlock.org/

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Traveling song by Alexander Tcherepnin (live performance)

The fourth song in Alexander Tcherepnin's Seven Songs on Chinese Poems, Opus 71 (1945)

Performed by Peter Mellalieu at the Auckland Lieder Group, 24 October 2010

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The Chinese songs of Alexander Tcherepnin: an introduction

In 1934, Alexander Tcherepnin (19899-1977) arrived in China during one of his worldwide tours. He was so attracted to China that he canceled the remainder of his tour and remained there for several years (Waleson, n.d.).

This recording introduces Tcherepnin's compositions informd by his experience in China. These works comprise an opera and two song cycles.

Presented at Auckland Lieder Group, Auckland, New Zealand, 24 October, 2010

Waleson, H. (n.d.). Aexander Tcherepnin. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~echew/performances/amp96/tche.html#chin
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Traveling song by Alexander Tcherepnin (performance)

 Fourth song in Opus 71, "Seven Songs on Chinese Poems" (1945).

Performed by Peter Mellalieu at Auckland Lieder Group concert, 24 October, 2010.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Traveling song by Alexander Tcherepnin

Traveling song Opus 71, No. 4 from "Seven Songs on Chinese Poems" composed by Alexander Tcherepnin (in English).
Folksong from Yunnan. English text by the composer.
A rehearsal peformance by Peter Mellalieu (baritone). In preparation for a performance for the Auckland Lieder Group, New Zealand.
Recorded 22 October 2010 on Zoom H4N digital recorder. Postproduction on Garageband.
Note: There is one recording of this song available on the internet recorded by Sally Light, in Russian. Heidi Waleson provides a brief bibliographic note detailing Tcherepninb's passion for China. He subsequently founded his own publishing house in Tokyo for the purpose of promoting Chinese and Japanese composers (Ramey).
By the time Tcherepnin arrived in China in 1934 on one of his worldwide concert tours, he was weary of his technical experiments and ripe for what he later called his "folk cure." Tcherepnin was so taken with China (and with a young Chinese pianist, Lee Hsien-Ming) that he canceled the rest of his tour and remained there for several years, even after Ming left to study in Brussels and Paris. Concerned about the impending dilution of Chinese music, he became assistant to the Minister of Culture. As a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory, he educated a generation of composers in techniques of expressing their native styles in modern forms, and set up competitions to encourage its creation, publication, and dissemination. (He was to do this again in Japan.)
Tcherepnin's own work became imbued with Chinese techniques and sensibilities. The Five Concert Etudes, Opus 52, use the pentatonic scale, and gracefully translate Chinese ideas for Western ears. "The Lute" is based on a Chinese tale for the friendship between a woodcutter and a mandarin and the lute that symbolized their bond; it recreates the resonating strings of the Chinese instrument, called the kou chin, by sustaining a single chord throughout the piece to create a sea of sound. "Homage to China", dedicated to Lee Hsien-Ming, whom he married in 1938, mimics the sound the mandolin-lie pipa, which is played with picks or fingernails, while "Punch and Judy" is based on a traditional Chinese puppet-theater air. (Waleson, n.d.)
Biography of Alexander Tcherepnin by Phillip Ramey. (n.d.). TheTcherepnin Society. Retrieved October 16, 2010, from http://www.tcherepnin.com/alex/bio_alex.htm
Chou, L. (n.d.). Alexander Tcherepnin: A Generic Catalogue of Works. TheTcherepnin Society. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www.tcherepnin.com/alex/comps_alex.htm
The Tcherepnin Society Website - Welcome! (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2010, from http://www.tcherepnin.com/
Waleson, H. (n.d.). Aexander Tcherepnin. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~echew/performances/amp96/tche.html#chin
Score copyright 1956 M. P. Belaiefff, Bonn.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Les Mélodies Françaises
(French Art Songs)

Presented by
The Auckland Lieder Group,
Inc. Sun 26 Sept 2010, 7:30 p.m.

Chez Valerie Muir,
Remuera, Auckland.

The Art of French Mélodie: Programme Notes

The tradition of French art song (mélodie) developed in the mid  19th century distinctly separate from the German Lied that had peaked much earlier in the century.

The text of a mélodie was more likely to be taken from contem-porary, serious poetry and the music was also generally more profound than that of the earlier genre of French 'romance' songs. Note that the term ‘chanson’ is used to to distinguish a folk or popular song.

Hector Berlioz was the first to use the term mélodie to describe his own compositions. An example is his song cycle Les nuits d'été (1841). However, Charles Gounod is often viewed as the first distinct composer of mélodie. His compositional style evolved imperceptibly and illustratively from romance to mélodie. His 200 mélodies drew on texts by poets such as as Hugo and Lamartine.

Gabriel Fauré wrote over 100 mélodies. He has been called the French Schumann, though their styles and essential temperaments were very different.

Proper performance of mélodies tends to require far less in the way of extreme emotion and blatant "acting" than many Lieder. Bernac (1970) notes that "the art of the greatest French composers is an art of suggestion" rather than explicit statement of feelings.

Mélodie is particularly noted for its deliberate and close relationship between text and melody. To compose or interpret mélodies, one must have a sensitive knowledge of the French language, French poetry, and French poetic diction.

According to Pierre Bernac (1970), Debussy writes that 'Clarity of expression, precision and concentration of form are qualities peculiar to the French genius.' These qualities are indeed most noticeable when compared with the German genius, excelling as it does in long, uninhibited outpourings, directly opposed to the French taste, which abhors overstatement and venerates concision and diversity."

Mélodies continue to be composed today. Perhaps the last uncontestedly great composer of them was Francis Poulenc, who died in 1963. He wrote nearly 150 mélodies of all sorts.

Abridged from
Pierre Bernac, (1970) The Interpretation of French Song, New York: Praeger.

The Auckland Lieder Group Inc. aims to promote education and performance of art songs and lieder. Performance meetings are held monthly in private homes in the Auckland region.

Membership inquiries, contact William Green, wegreenpiano@hotmail.com, or The Secretary, Valerie Muir, 09 520 1981.

Concert organisation, programme design and notes by Peter Mellalieu. http://mynstrel.blogspot.com, 02142 0118, petermellalieu@me.com
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

French Art Songs - Les Mélodie Française

Presented by
The Auckland Lieder Group
Sunday 26 September 2010
7:15 pm for 7:30 pm commencement
Chez Valerie Muir, 3 Otahuri Crescent, Remuera South, near Newmarket,
RSVP: Telephone 09 520 1981
The September meeting of the Auckland Lieder Group takes the theme of Les Melodie Française (French Art Song).

The programme includes songs by Debussy, Faure, Berlioz, Delibes, Gounod, Ambroise Thomas, and Eduard Lalo.

Please contact Peter Mellalieu if you wish to add your songs to the programme: telephone 09 818 7770, mobile 02142 0118, email: petermellalieu@me.com. Please state full details for the programme including composer, title, singer, and accompanist.

Performance is usually restricted to members. Guest performers are invited to audition ‘live’ for membership at the concert.

For catering purposes, please confirm to Valerie Muir if you are attending. Guests are especially welcome but please RSVP to Valerie. The guest entry charge is $5.

The Auckland Lieder Group aims to promote education and performance of art songs and lieder. Performance meetings are held monthly in private homes in the Auckland region. For membership inquiries, contact William Green, wegreenpiano@hotmail.com, or The Secretary, Valerie Muir, 09 520 1981.

Image source: http://pagesperso.erasme.org/michel/cc/oeuvres/brut/debussy-1956.jpg
Google map link here.
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