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Wayfaring Stranger and Shall We Gather at the River, for SATB Choir and String Quartet

 Hi all!

I purchased CineStrings Solo from CineSamples a month ago. In order to explore the various articulations, I decided to rewrite a choir arrangement I wrote a few years ago of the traditional Wayfaring Stranger, with the hymn Shall We Gather at the River. The accompaniment was originally piano. I kept the same harmonic structure, and the vocal parts are unchanged, except that I used Voices of Prague rather than EWQL Symphonic Choirs.

The cello part is identical or very similar to the original piano left hand throughout. The right hand parts were all revoiced at a minimum, but in much of the song, completely reworked, as the pianistic parts did not translate well to a string quartet for much of the song.

This is my first time writing for string quartet, so I am most interested in any comments/critique on the string parts, especially from any of you who may be string players. In general, I am curious to hear how you feel the string quartet works as accompaniment, and whether there are any issues you see with the parts. Specific questions I have are:
1) Would the octave grace notes (here notated as 16th notes) work (be playable and practical) with live players?
2) Are the double stop tremolo parts as written playable and practical?
3) Did I leave enough rest before and after the tremolos for transitioning?

Please note that I manipulated some of the notation (stem directions and slur positions, for instance), and left dynamic markings off, in order to squeeze all 8 parts onto the screen for Youtube. If I were printing this for musicians to play, it would be formatted much differently.

I would appreciate any input you are able to provide!


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Excellent! I am glad I could help.

James Gilmour said:


I have not found any tutorials about using VOP with Sibelius. The way I did it was to set up a manual sound set in my Playback configuration. Forgive me if the following is information you already know about, but here are the things you would need to do to set this up.
1) Make sure that the path to wherever the UVIWorkstation VST was placed during installation is in your Virtual Instruments and Effects folder in Audio Engine options under the Active Devices tab of the Playback devices screen.
2) Add UVIWorkstation onto the Active Devices Panel on the Active Devices tab.
3) Click to the Manual Sound Sets panel, and set it up something like this:

4) Within your mixer in Sibelius, assign the tracks for each vocal staff to the corresponding midi channel, as in the first 4 channels shown here:

There are plenty of tutorials about setting up Sibelius manual sound sets, if there are questions about this.

If there are other questions about this, or other aspects of that, feel free to ask, And thanks again for your assistance!

Michael Lofting said:

Hi James 

7th are fine for tremolos. The easiest ones are where the fingers are going up with the strings e.g. 1st finger on D string, 3rd finger on A string. Trying then to put 2nd finger on the E string is possible but not practical at speed.

There are string diagrams that you can get which are good for visualising this. Also works for triple/quadruple stops.

Are there any tutorials on how to use Prague choirs with Sibelius? 

James Gilmour said:


Thank you for listening, and providing input. I use Sibelius, and normally do not use a DAW, so I am happy that Voices of Prague works pretty well with the notation software. I did have to add in a fair amount of controller change data in Sibelius for both the voices and the strings, though, and I find Voices of Prague easier to manipulate than EWQL Symphonic Choirs.

1) I am happy to hear that the octave grace notes will not be a problem, as I think they add a little life to the chords in the beginning section.
2) I am glad to hear that the double stop tremolos used should not be too much of a problem to play. Would 7ths be easier to play than the 4ths? If I swap voices around between parts, I may be able to get ride of some or all of the 4ths.
3) I had added the rests surrounding the tremolo sections due to misunderstanding Tim Davies' blog post about tremolos - after re-reading it, I believe he was mainly saying the rests were helpful when switching from unmeasured tremolo to a measured non-tremolo rhythm. I will remove the rests around those tremolo sections. Thanks!

I will probably add the other strings on that final pizzicato note - I had considered a D Major chord split among the parts, but I think all on D as you suggested may be better.

I am glad you enjoyed this!

Michael Lofting said:

Hi James.

Listened through twice. I purchased Prague choirs a couple of months ago but haven’t done anything of substance as I use notation software mainly so really interested in what you’ve done with them. Sounds good.

I am a string player so happy to give my opinion on your questions.

1. No problem with the octave grace notes, good players would be able to shift position fine.

2. As long as the tremolos are an octave or less all good. 6ths are the easiest. The 4ths at bar 74 on are a little awkward, playable, but the players would thank you for rearranging them where possible. Would cut them to 16th notes not 32nds at this speed.

3. No need to leave any rests between tremolo and straight notes.

Suggest all strings pizz on last note. Violins open D, viola D3.

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