Posted by: Andrea Day | March 26, 2016

Getting ‘Appy – 11 great apps for singers

I’m a self confessed tech geek and a singer, so you would be right in thinking that my iPhone is full of useful apps that make my singing life that little bit easier. After preparing an education session for a mini harmony collage for my chorus, I found that there was a massive interest in different apps out there, so I thought that I would share!

Disclaimer! – I am an iPhone user and can only comment on the apps that I have used and find useful. None of this is to open the debate on what operating system is the best or even what apps are the best… just sharing my experience – please dont jump on the anti / pro iPhone train!

Summary list of apps

Utilities            Teach tracks & recording Games            Geek             
 – iTunes  – Warm me up  – Harmonize  – Tag Master
 – Dropbox  – Dropvox  – Intune  – TE Tuner
 – iPitch  – iLIFT: REMIX  – Acapella

 

Utilities

iTunes with Match – £22

Match iconI learn a LOT of songs so having them all available to me whenever I need them is important.  Every teach track I’ve got is on iTunes and I subscribe to iTunes Match – a service which puts ALL my iTunes library into the cloud so I can access it anywhere at any time without it having to take up loads of room on my phone. It also syncs across all my devices so it makes life easy. Its £22 a year – so not the cheapest solution out there, but it works and I know that all my music is backed up if for some reason I have a massive hard drive failure or something – you cant just re-download a lot of the barbershop and learning tracks I have in my library as its not available on iTunes!

 

Dropbox – free (additional storage space my incur cost)

dropbox_logo_detailAll hail the invention of Dropbox! One of the original cloud based storage solutions which is free (to an extent) and integrates SO well with so many other applications.  I tend to use this as a storage place for PDF files of scores.   I have a folder for each of the groups that I sing with just in case I need to refer to the dots at any point.  I also use it for when I get emailed teach tracks and want to listen to them repeatedly before I can put them in my iTunes library; if you just listen through the emailed copy then you cant move away from the email app without the track stopping – Dropbox supports the multitasking facility so you can use your phone for other stuff while listening.

Not only that, but it also automatically synchronises to my laptop and I can access it at any computer when I log in to their website.

iPitch – £0.79

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.53.54A pitch pipe on your phone in either C-C of F-F. Enough said!

 

 

 

 

Teach Tracks and Recording

iLIFT:REMIX – £3.99 (edit: now called “Learn That”

ilift

A great little app for teach tracks. If the track is in your iTunes library, then you can import it into the app and once it’s in there you can do some cool stuff.

Pitch shift – great for if you are going to be performing the track in a different key, this feature allows you to transpose it so that you can ensure that you practice in the same key to build that muscle memory.  This doesn’t change the speed, just the pitch.

Isolate and repeat – we all have that track where we need to work on it section by section as its a bit much to take in in one go.  This allows you to isolate and save sections of the track so that you can repeat just that bit until you have nailed it.

Slow down – tricky tracks (especially Aaron Dale charts!) can often need slowing down to make sure that you get every note correct before you move on.  This facility allows you to slow the track down without affecting the pitch and then gradually speed it back up as you get the hang of it.

DropVox – £1.49

app-dropvoxThis great little app records MP3 files directly to your Dropbox – its really easy to use – just hit the big red button to start and then again to stop.  You can choose what folder it saves to in your Dropbox – I have a folder called “rehearsal recordings” for each of the groups that I sing with that the app just drops the audio in to.  You need to have a data signal on your phone or wifi connection and be comfortable with the amount of data that uploading the audio will use – but as they are MP3s they aren’t too big and as the format can be used by all. Once there, it’s really easy to email the audio around to whoever needs to listen to them – all using your phone.

Warm Me Up –  £4.49

WarmMeUpLogo200

I drive to a LOT of rehearsals and gigs and being a busy bee, time is usually pretty limited.  I often warm up on the way using this app. It has a load of simple warm ups that are split into different categories, gentle starts, getting warmer, increasing the range etc.  You can choose from four different voice types, high / low, mens / womens and the length of time that you want to warm up for.  It chooses a random selection from each category for your voice type and time – it means you never really know what’s going to come next.

The other thing that I have to credit it with, is extending my range.  I started my barbershop life as a lead and it wasn’t until I joined my quartet The MIX that tenor was an option for me – my top note was an E.  I needed to step up big time with going down the tenor route and this app helped me train my voice up to an A and now, three years on, I’m hitting top Cs.  Yikes!

 

Games

Harmonise – free

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.35.00Two little ninja blobs sing a pitch each and you have to replicate them by sliding your finger up and down the screen to get them in tune.  I love this – so simple but really makes you listen and it uses the just tuning system rather than equal temperament (check out a previous blog post about this if you aren’t familiar with the terms).  You can really hear the “beat” sound that is generated when the tuning isn’t quite right, once you have tuned the two notes to eliminate that, you can even hear the overtone and get that in tune.  When you nail both of these then you know that you have got the interval just right.  Playing makes you listen hard and makes you realise how accurate we need to be in barbershop to ring the chords and get the expansion of sound.

Intune – free

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.33.48

Another little simple free game to tune your ears – the app plays you two pitches one after each other and all you have to do is work out if the second one is higher or lower. As you move through the levels the pitches get closer and closer.

One thing this one has taught me is that I can hear things when they are sharper but not when they are flatter, so when someone else tells me I’m flat, then I just really need to take their word for it!

 

 

Acapella – free

acapella

If you like afterglows and singing tags, or even just pushing your own boundaries by learning all the parts to a song, then this will be fun for you.  You can record up to nine videos of you singing each part and line them up to create your own harmonies.  You can even link up with other users of the app to get them to join in too – like a virtual tag party! When you are happy with your creation, you can publish them online – if you dare!

 

Geek

Tag Master – free

tagmaster

An absolute essential for all afterglow attendees, Tagmaster is a massive database of user submitted tags, some with music and some with teach tracks.  The tags are all rated by the collective barbershop hive mind, you can save your favourites and submit your own. What is there not to like?

 

 

TE Tuner – £2.99

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 22.06.29This is a barbershoppers geek dream; I used to have a load of different apps that all did individual tasks, but this one pretty much covers off the lot – and it can flip between just and equal temperament.

Pitch generator – if you aren’t satisfied with the tone or pitch of the simple iPitch app then knock yourself out with the options on this.

Frequency spectrum – wanna find out if you are creating overtones, you can actually SEE them using this feature

Tuner – not just for tuning up guitars and things… sing a note into this and see how hard it is to keep it at a speady pitch – when you get it right, then you get a lovely smiley face looking back at you.

Metronome – not just the regular tick tick tick, but you can also set the time signature so that you can get the emphasis on the right beat of the bar. And if you don’t know the tempo, there is a tap pad where you can give it a beat and it throws out a tempo.

It does loads more geek stuff…. but those are the main features that you will find fun to play with as a singer.

 

 

There are stacks more apps out there that either combine some of these tasks or help with something completely different, feel free to add them in the comments section below – I’m always on the look out for more ways to make life easier!

 

Posted by: Andrea Day | March 29, 2015

The Barbershop big “O”

Recently, the LABBS quartet champions were asked by the organisation to host a quartet education day for it’s members.  Being exceptionally lucky to be part of the QCs after winning my gold with The MIX in 2012, I wanted to offer up some of my skills and knowledge to those looking to work towards and achieve the same goal.

As ever, I’m never one to go down a well trodden path, so I decided to offer something rather different to the delegates and help them understand what an overtone actually was – what else did you think the big “O” was referring to?!

So, once again, as the pretty pictures were made I thought it was about time I share here too.

Read More…

Posted by: Andrea Day | December 17, 2013

Barbershop blend; Why I sound different to you

I had such a phenomenal response to the last Barbershop geek blog that it was clear there was an audience out there that, like me, wants to know the more technical reasons as to why we are so hooked on the genre. It was lovely to receive comments about how understanding some of the technical stuff has helped you become better singers.

So, with that said – here is the first of (hopefully) a few more blog posts of stuff that fills my head.

Today’s lesson – Why do I sound different to you?

A flute sounds different to a violin, even when they are playing the same note. And, you can recognise someones voice on the end of the phone out of all your friends with them just saying the word,  “Hello”.

But why? and how does this even relate to Barbershop?

Read More…

Posted by: Andrea Day | November 27, 2013

Tuning; the Barbershop way

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to Holland with my barbershop quartet, The MIX, to co-host an education day for 16 Holland Harmony and DABS quartets.  As part of the weekend, I needed to prepare a session on “How to be a great Tenor” to deliver to all the tenor delegates.

Having only sung tenor for 18 months or so, I wanted to make sure that I read up on all the material from as many awesome and well established tenors that I could find.  There were some great notes from Sandy Marron, Charla Esser, Patty Cobb and Kipp Buckner that I managed to get my mitts on that really helped with the bulk of the session.  But, I wanted to add a bit more “me” into the session too.

I’m pretty techy and love my music technology and physics, so I took the rather big step to help fellow tenors understand some pretty complex ideas around tuning.

So having done all the work and made all the pretty pictures, I thought that I would share it here, incase anyone else found it useful too.  Do let let me know what you think… your feedback will make really interesting reading!

Start learning!

Posted by: Andrea Day | April 19, 2012

How to make a great travel news demo

Student Radio Conference LogoAfter losing my  Student Radio Conference virginity in Bradford this year I have been inundated with students asking how they can get a broadcasting job with INRIX media.

As I seem to have been answering the same question time and time again about what makes a good demo to be a travel news broadcaster it is about time I put my answer to “paper” and share the love:

  • Your demo should be a travel bulletin –  A documentary on how much you love radio or a generic presenter demo can be a great listen, but it really doesn’t tell me if you understand the difference between the M1 and the M42.
  • If you are applying for INRIX, send something dry.  If you are successful in your application you will be working on BBC, commercial and other audio services that we provide.  Adding a bed will only taint your demo to make it feel a certain style which means is it one step further away from helping us imagine what you would sound like on our client stations.
  • Don’t edit it – or at least don’t have audible edits in it!  Every edit tells me that you can’t do live radio.
  • 60 seconds is enough.  Really, truly and honestly.
  • Map of the Midlands

    The order of the incidents in your bulletin needs to make sense

    Structure your bulletin – What’s your headline story? What order should you put the incidents in?  No point in starting off with an incident in Shrewsbury, then going to Stoke, then Wolverhampton, then back to Telford – it makes no sense.  Try going from North to South, or East to West.  And yes, this does mean that you have to do some research.  Google map is your best friend.

  • Pronounce things correctly – this is one of the biggest tells that you don’t know your patch and also creates the most frequent listener complaints.
  • Human Language – do you know what a rolling road block is? The difference between a lane closure and a lane blockage? No? Well that’s because you’re normal and not a travel news geek.  The listeners are normal too (mostly).  Never forget that.  Paint the picture with words that an eight year old would understand instantly.  You aren’t being patronising, you are speaking in human, everyday language.
  • Present it well – normalise your bulletin, top and tail it, title it up with your name and not “Travel demo V3” (what happened to V1 and V2?!) , add in live examples if you have delivered travel on air before and if you haven’t, listen around for genuine out cues and style.

INRIX logo

After working in travel news at INRIX (formerly Trafficlink) for eight years (!) I have heard some awesome and not so awesome travel news demos in my time.  One thing I have always tried to do is give positive and constructive feedback on every demo that falls into my inbox; I hope that those who have got a critique from me would agree….

If you are looking to work for INRIX, all our Broadcaster and Editor roles are advertised on Media UK and a nicely worded email to me asking for a critique on an application before submission usually gets a response within a few days. I’ll leave you to work out my email address, you are all intelligent enough.

Best of luck!

Posted by: Andrea Day | December 4, 2011

Travel News Masterclass with the Radio Academy and Sound Women

Trafficlink

After working with the Radio Academy at a number of Masterclasses and also being involved with their Foot in the Door sessions, I thought that it was about time that I took up the challenge of arranging Trafficlink’s very own Masterclass to give something back to the industry.

One thing that I have learnt from the Foot in the Door sessions and providing feedback on bulletins is that, most people looking to start doing travel, don’t really know what a bulletin should sound like or where the information comes from.  I am sure that is the case for a lot of radio demos in any field, but there are a few key things that can really help an application get past the starting post (keep your eyes peeled for a future blog).

On the weekend of the 17th and 18th of December, myself (with my training hat on) and the Manager of our Northern England office, Amy Lewis, will be on hand to show the delegates what goes into creating travel news bulletins for the radio market. We will look at how the information is collected, collated, output and then broadcast – including using our new Information browser.

Many of the sessions will follow the same training as we provide to new members of staff within Trafficlink, so if anyone is  looking at applying for work with us in the future, it will really give them a head start.  You never know, if we spot some great talent, then delegates might even be invited to an interview.  Hint hint.

Its the first time that Trafficlink have engaged in a programme like this and we are really hopeful that it will be successful in passing on some of the skills that we have within the business to new people looking to join the industry.  The Masterclasses are open to everyone and we are really keen to hear from individuals that are in under represented groups in the radio industry.

All the details of how to attend and the schedule for the day are on the Radio Academy website here.

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