From the Music Ministry….

Foreshadowing Better Days Ahead

For Easter Sunday, we are going to work toward presenting a virtual choir anthem! This involves Parkway Baptist choir members who read music well, are confident singing independently, and comfortable with technology recording themselves performing one part of an anthem with a prerecorded accompaniment. Once these individual recordings are done, they will be edited, synchronized, and combined into one virtual anthem.

The process of making this virtual choir recording reminds me how studio recordings are made. Individual session musicians record separate tracks that are edited and mixed together to make an accompaniment track. The vocal artist(s) then record a separate track listening to this accompaniment track and all is produced down into a final mix. (To find out more about this process and the studio musicians from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s who made it possible, look up information on The Wrecking Crew, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, or The Nashville A-Team.)

While this is as close as we can get to safely having a choir in worship, there are several aspects of this process I do not like. For one, it is not a community experience even though it presents itself as such. The final product will show several of our singers making music together. As you can tell from the description of the process, it is anything but a group working together all at one time. The separate singers work independently.

Secondly, not all willing choir members can participate. As noted, only singers comfortable singing by themselves, able to quickly read music, and comfortable with technology will be able to participate. Also, the number of participants increases the time needed to complete the project because each part has to be edited, synchronized, and mixed in. Too many separate recordings will make the project unmanageable. Not everyone who is willing will get to join in.

Finally, it is not a living work of art. Since music happens in time, each performance is a different, living, and unique work. The performance of the same piece of music is never the same. With live performance, various parts of the presentation can be changed based on a growing understanding of the music and its meaning. With a recording, no such artistic adjustment can be made. The work is much more like a painting or sculpture that is set and unchanging. I miss the opportunities and hazards of performing in real time with a choir making a living work of art.

Even with all these negatives, I am looking forward to making this virtual choir recording. Although it is a pale shadow of our choir singing and worshiping together, it is a foreshadowing of better days ahead.