Guide Tracks: A Virtual Choir Essential

April 28, 2022

So, you want to learn about guide tracks. What are they, and why does my ensemble need them to create our virtual performance?

Answered by our friends at Kinnison Choral Co., here are some FAQs about guide tracks.

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 absolutely 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.

Couldn’t I just use a karaoke or backing track?

No. Guide tracks are more than just accompaniment. They include a sync point and are customized to help the singer/player achieve a great performance without the support of their conductor or ensemble members. Beyond the scope of a backing track, a choir director may create or purchase 6 separate tracks for the same piece.

  • Accompaniment Track
  • Full Mix Track
  • Soprano Highlight
  • Alto Highlight
  • Tenor Highlight
  • Bass Highlight

At Kinnison Choral Co., all of these tracks and more are available to purchase. As a variance to part-specific guide tracks, you also have the option for the highlighted vocal part to pan into the left headphone, while the accompaniment and other vocal parts can be heard in the right ear.

What is a sync point?

The sync point is the moment when the guide track instructs performers to clap, usually within the first few beats of the piece. Why is this important?

Imagine you are an audio and video editor at Auri Productions. Because of this clap, you are able to line up individual videos to create a unified ensemble. If you are able to sync up the clap, the entirety of each video should be synchronized.

How will the track instruct me?

The guide track starts with a voice-over that may sound something like this: “one, two, three, four, clap!” to serve as a sync point. If there is a fermata, quick entrance, or moment of rubato within the piece, a voice-over may assist the performer by counting in and cutting off at the appropriate time.

Are guide tracks necessary for my virtual music project?

Absolutely. Without the use of guide tracks, there is room for a whole heap of issues.

  • There is no accompaniment for the performer to follow
  • The performer will get off tempo
  • The performer will struggle to stay in tune
  • A vocalist may struggle to hold a harmony part

Even if you tell your singers, “Set your metronome at 68 BPM and sing your part along with it,” there will still be issues of attacks, entrances, cutoffs, vowels, entrances, etc.

While results may vary with homemade guide tracks, Kinnison Choral Co.’s tracks provide singers the confidence they need to record their part at their highest level of musicality. Why? Because our tracks sound like a real choir, providing #confidenceinnumbers. This results in a much better final product and overall experience than if you were to use guide tracks with just a few voices, or even worse, parts plunked out on a piano.

We don’t sing Moses Hogan the same way we sing Mozart. Our guide tracks are able to convey stylistic elements through the realistic choir audio that supports a performer.

Can I create one myself?

Yes, but consider the skill, time, and hassle that goes into creating these tracks. In order to create tracks to our standard of quality, you would need studio equipment (sound isolating headphones, a high quality microphone, and a digital keyboard) and a digital audio workstation (DAW) to record the accompaniment and vocals. We pride ourselves on making each choral rehearsal track at a high level of performance.

If you are looking to purchase guide tracks for your virtual music project, you may inquire directly with Kinnison Choral Co. or Auri Productions can take care of the transaction for you.

Happy music making!

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