TwtrSymphony: Advice to those wanting to Audition

As a number of audition pieces have arrived and others have written struggling with one issue or another, I felt it worthwhile to let the musicians gain from each other's experience.

The poor flutists were first out of the block. They were given a piece that is playable, but challenging, melodic and yet rhythmically different, (as were all the musicians auditioning for TwtrSymphony). Here are some of the problems they needed to think about when preparing for the auditions:
  1. It is important to play WITH the click track.
    While a number of musicians find this off-putting, your metronome may not exactly match the click track. Therefore, don't leave it to chance. Even slight variations in the tempo can lead to drastic difference in the placement of notes later on in the music.
  2. Tuning!
    Even if you think you are in tune, try recording it several times and playing back all tracks at the same time. You may find you waver here and there in terms of notes being in tune. When the tracks are compared with others via my computer, the slight variations can become rather dramatic. At such time as we try to get the entire ensemble to play together, these little tuning variations can be a nightmare to try and fix after the fact.
  3. Know your equipment
    Don't leave the recording to the last few days. You may find your equipment doesn't record they way you thought it would or it doesn't sound as good as you think you did while playing. Resolve these issues long before you try and record your audition. The last thing you want when you're trying to play with a click track is stress, wondering if it's going to work.
If you have the chance to get equipment that allows you to play back multiple takes at the same time, I highly encourage it. Hearing what you sound like from one take to the next will be very illuminating. The more precise you can make your recordings the better player you will be in the long run. Record two or three tracks and play them back in sync. Any flaws will be immediately apparent.

I have nearly a dozen audition recordings returned at this point. Individually, they all sound pretty impressive. Much of what I've said here is really picky, but, the part of the reason this idea of a 'remote' orchestra hasn't been done before is the challenge of getting all of these disparate elements to come together. The pickier we are about getting the best from our auditions, the better our pieces will be when it comes time for the "real" thing.


Janet said…
This is GREAT ADVICE! I did wait to record, because it's taken me this long to feel confident with the music. I figured I would need a day or two to tackle the recording end....then I got a nasty cold, and lost a week. Result? Now fighting recording issues at last minute. I am discovering that Twtrsymphony is more than playing well, one must learn the technical end, too. What a great learning process this has become!
Chip Michael said…
The more I think about this article, the more I realize what we're doing with TwtrSymphony is going to have long range effects on our players. They will become better musicians, by the very nature of how we're making out music.

Learning to play with a click track is what some of the very best musicians in the industry learn to do when working in the film industry. By applying these same standards (and techniques) to creating our TwtrPieces, the musicians are going to be using a skill that hones how they think about playing with precision.

Yes, this is a thrilling project! I'm excited about all the things we are accomplishing, the hype around what we're doing and the ground we're breaking!

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