So, you want to try your hand at creating guide tracks for your virtual ensemble. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's clarify what exactly guide tracks are.
What is a Guide Track?
A guide track serves as an audio reference for a singer/player to perform with when recording their part of a virtual performance. Not only is this a help to the individual performer, but it is necessary for a synchronized ensemble. By recording along with the audio track, performers will be able to submit a take that is in tempo and in tune. The guide track should be followed with headphones on, so that it will not be heard in the individual's video performance.
Guide Tracks Need a Sync Point
The most important element of a guide track is the sync point. This is the moment where the track instructs performers to clap, usually within the first few beats of the piece. Because of this clap, the editors are able to line up individual performances to create a unified ensemble. If you are able to sync up the clap, the entirety of each video should be synchronized.
Example of an Effective Guide Track
Let's use this as an example of what to include in your guide track:
1. This guide track included a sync point at the beginning. Be sure to count off or offer clear instruction so this is executed perfectly.
2. The vocal lines were highlighted. In this case, the director decided to sing the parts. A piano or midi sound could also do the trick. While a duet of Shenandoah is easy enough, you may consider creating multiple tracks to highlight each part of your ensemble. For example:
Full Mix Track
3. This guide track would actually be considered a conductor's track since the director decided to accompany the audio with a video of their conducting. If the music director would like to be included in the virtual performance, they will need to create a conducting video anyway. Why not use it as a way to guide your singers as they perform from home?
How to Create Your Own Guide Tracks
Here is my step-by-step process of recording guide tracks for an SSA arrangement. This is what my session looked like in GarageBand.
1. I first recorded the piano accompaniment and then sang each line individually.
2. I selected all parts and dragged them a few bars to make room for the sync point.
3. Starting at the beginning of the track, I created a sync point by saying "Clap on three. 1, 2, 3 *clap*."
4. I exported the following tracks:
Full Mix Track (Exported mp3 with no tracks muted)
Accompaniment Track (Exported mp3 with all vocal tracks muted)
Soprano I Track (Exported mp3, muting Soprano II and Alto)
Soprano II Track (Exported mp3, muting Soprano I and Alto)
Alto Track (Exported mp3, muting the Sopranos)
Once you have exported the tracks, it is time to send them off to your singers with instructions on how they should record their socially distant performance. Auri Productions provides the following instructions to our clients:
Guide Tracks Available at Kinnison Chorale Co.
If you would like to hire someone to create your guide tracks, we recommend our friends at Kinnison Choral Co. you may inquire directly with Kinnison Choral Co. or Auri Productions can take care of the transaction for you.
Happy music making!