My plan was to make practice tracks for Palestrina’s Jesu Rex Admirabilis. It is a perfect piece for small choirs. It is written in three parts, sometimes given as SSA or SAB. There is a little bit of counting in the last part, but the voices mostly stick together.
Most editions give only one or two verses, but Bernard of Clairvaux’s hymn has many, many verses to extend the piece if desired.
So, I thought that there must be practice tracks already available on the internet. So I searched, and cringed, and searched some more.
Then I found a treasure trove of MIDI files made for choir practice. Each part is separated from the rest using the stereo effect. By adjusting the balance of your speakers you can choose how to balance the part you are learning with the parts of the rest of the choir.
The collection is called SingingPractice.co.uk, or Midi file store and it includes Jesu Rex Admirabilis in amongst the music sung in January 2010. Listening through the Soprano track helped my young soprano to hear the timing for a certain held note.
That webpage contains many, many such midi files. Looking for three part pieces I found
- André Caplet’s O Salutaris Hostia (sheet music at IMSLPD and midi files here)
- O Virgo Splendens from the Red Book of Montserrat (sheet music at CPDL and midi files here) This one is like a melismatic chant round in with bunches of porrectusses all over the place. The midi rendering is alright for note bashing, but you would do well to look for a good recording to get the hang of how it flows. Here is a PDF version of O Virgo Splendens in square notes or neumes. I typed it up about ten years ago for a pilgrimage.
A last note – the midi files do not contain lyrics. The webpage recommends a certain Midi Karaoke player, more for the ease of adjusting tempo and pitch. It’s still best to read the lyrics from the sheet music.