Symphonic Choirs Sample

Just to note that v.6.19 of Play doesn’t improve things in Dorico, for me at least: seems that there’s a glitch with note-off . I just get a bigger and bigger chord, same as before.

Play 6 sends note-off which it seems that notation software can’t handle. It was just the same with Sibelius and even before I switched to Dorico, EWQL tech support advised me to go back to Play 5 which I still use with Dorico. This version doesn’t made use of note-off from what I’ve been told which is the reason it works.

I was going to try it with Finale (v25), but found that I didn’t install a VST2 for Play, so that’ll remain a mystery as far as I’m concerned.

Here are two recordings I made last summer using a digital audio workstation and the EastWest Symphonic Choirs:

Jean Berger – The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee
Psalm 145:15-16

John Tavener – The Lamb
Poem by William Blake

Although my virtual choir has many flaws, it has two advantages over a typical real choir: it doesn’t tend to go flat when singing a cappella, and no one is gasping for air just before an entrance.

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I am impressed with the progress that has been made with reproducing choral singing and WordBuilder is a significant advance. I congratulate you, John, with how well you have mastered this complex system.

It reminds me of the time 40 years ago when I was working to get a Commodore Pet to play a simple keyboard piece through a homemade DAC. The programming in assembly language was tedious. It was more computer science than music. I get the same feeling here that what is required is a mastery of sound engineering.

As an musician, I want to spend my time writing. I would love to have an easy way to produce sample choral recordings but I don’t think we are quite there yet.

The central problem seems to be getting the computer to correctly pronounce a notoriously inconsistent language - how do you pronounce knife? - by interpreting the written language. Why has no-one thought to build software based on input from sound rather than writing, to utilize the advances in speech recognition? If you sang the text on a monotone in rhythm, a sound analysis module should be able to select the best matches from the sound library and recreate it with the correct pitches from Dorico as choral singing. I may be totally off base here but I suspect this approach could avoid most of the machinations at the granular level required to get a realistic sounding result.

Thanks for sharing,

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Wordbuilder uses its own phonetic language, Votox. It can automatically translate written English into Votox but the idea is to be able to reproduce any language and with things like Russian and German which I’ve used, it is up to the user to programme the phonetics correctly. Although there are clear gaps in the sort of vowel sounds it can deal with (I do not get the impression it has been programmed by a linguist), it is nonetheless quite powerful.

Neither do I. The repertoire of possible phonemes (vowels and consonants) in EW Symphonic Choirs is obviously aimed at speakers of American English only, who think that’s all the sounds there are, and the rest of the world is doing it wrong :roll_eyes:. I don’t want to even begin to try and reproduce any other language with this tool, despite there being a ‘Latin’ way of encoding stuff. And TBH, I’m not that impressed by its rendition of English either. It sounds like a choir that doesn’t master even basic English (so maybe it would even sound better with a Latin text after all?). Speech synthesis is so much more advanced nowadays.
First step could be implementing a more comprehensive subset of IPA, and supporting IPA notation to begin with. This means users would be required to have knowledge of phonetics. And, yeah, typing IPA would definitely pose a challenge. One can dream…

Then you might also think of the horrific and ubiquitous auto-tune. Pronounce the text in the worst foreign accent or dialect of your choice, and let the computer sing the right pitch. Problem solved :laughing:
@DSale is right, speech recognition is so advanced nowadays, you could leverage it much more in this area. Work in progress, no doubt.

For what it is worth, here’s a demo I did a few years ago in Cubase, with the last part being sung by EW Symphonic Choirs.

The Votox was a PITA to get right, but in Latin it sounded okay enough. A major, major issue was the inability of the Wordbuilder to sing the correct lyrics when starting in the middle of a phrase.

Hope it helps!
Cheers, Benji

I like the music in Benji’s example particularly and The Lamb is also a decent example of using the choir and a piece I’ve also sung.

My first two Dorico projects both used Symphonic Choirs but I think a better example would be this Box

It’s a complete if reasonably short Mass written originally in Sibelius. Although I have created a Dorico version as proof of concept, I’ve yet to put in the hours required to balance the dynamics so it’s better to listen to the original audio export (although of course it is itself far from perfect). If 24’ is too long then just sample bits here and there.

Now that’s a brilliant solution (DSale)- sing it and let the computer essentially auto-tune your or your musical friend’s vocals. If you were a computer programmer you’d be rich. Find a patent lawyer quickly and take your idea to the next obvious step: making something work because of a good idea rather than a quagmire of bad ideas stumbling around in the dark for thirty years. Nice thinking! Go fund me. I mean, go fund you.
JohnKPrice: That’s amazing. Your skill is unbeatable. It’s the program that needs DSale’s fix. But I never got my EastWest Choir to work with WordBuilder properly. I gave up long ago. Too frustrating. But you have done it and done it as well, I imagine, as is possible at this stage of the technology. Bravo! Thanks for the great example of what can be done with the right skill, patience, and tenacity I’m sure.

When i was East West Composer cloud subsciber i’ve made this…

It was quite laborious, the result is actually not quite similar to the original and in the editing phase I am afraid I have added too much reverb … :rofl: :sweat_smile:


That is fantastic: the reverb is absolutely fine for a ‘church’ effect. I’m curious how much time and effort it took: was it ‘just’ a question of typing in the correct phonemes for each entire part? Or did you have to do more than that.?

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If I remember correctly it took me a week, but obviously if I put together the actual hours I think 8 hours … I used the reverb both for a church effect and to cover the imperfections of the wordbuilder. I didn’t make any particular adjustments with the wordbuilder, I wanted to test its use without too much additional work. in my opinion it is a great product, but only if it is used to obtain something similar to real singing. I probably would have gotten better results by learning more about all the features and tricks of the software, but this actually means wasting a lot of time. Let’s say it is a product for those who have a lot of patience and time available … :grimacing:

Thought I would share two versions of a short hymn…one mocked up with Symphonic Choirs and one recorded with a small live church choir at rehearsal. I found the contrast helpful.

Mock-up- Mock-up version

Live version

These were not created with Dorico, however…I believe I did it with cubase at the time. I wrote this just when the choirs library first came out.

This is one of the most realistic sounding examples I’ve yet heard.

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Thanks. When they released the library they had a competition for pieces that featured it, and I won the competition. The composition is very simple and nothing to brag about, but I did get some realism from the library.

Hello @Mkiz,
Congratulations for your prize! Great song and great mock-up!
Do you have a few hint and tips for realistic results with Symphonic Choirs? Write in Votox, work in Time Editor in Word Builder, …

I worked exclusively in Votox and didn’t do too much tweaking in the time editor. I found the time editor to be incredibly tricky, and I got pretty good results by just shortening note values to give syllables and release trails a chance to breathe a bit. Since writing this piece, I also found some success with using choral pronunciations as the starting point instead of the English words. Here is a link to a resource that I found helpful: Sometimes you need to put the consonants in places you wouldn’t expect (unless you are a choral director). For example, as the post I attached notes, proper placement of consonants may involve:
“* attaching consonants which end syllables to the beginning of the next syllable. Example: “Find us faith-ful” becomes, dictionally speaking, “ FI-NDU-SFAI-THFU-L “”

I tested that out and got more realistic results. There are some other good tips in that post.

I hope this helps.

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From what I remember doing my piece back then, this is solid advice and I did much of the same things that Mkiz did. :wink:


The EastWest Symphonic Choirs sing The Shepherds’ Farewell by Hector Berlioz, with woodwind accompaniment provided by Garritan Personal Orchestra. The parts for the string players have been omitted because they basically just double the vocal parts.

The score was created using Dorico and the sounds were created using a digital audio workstation.