Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Technology for the Church Singer: Choral Singing from a Tablet

I use a tablet for 95% of all my music, and I have to admit, I love it, and would never go back to paper for most uses. At the suggestion of Adam Wood, I am using this post to outline my setup, in case anyone else would find it useful. Here it goes....
Some may remember me as "that guy" at the last colloquium.
You can see my tablet peeking out behind another singer
in this pic from the 2014 Colloquium, singing with
the esteemed Scott Turkington

I have a dropbox folder filled with tons of resources. SEP, Graduale Romanum, Graduale Simplex, Liber Usualis, Liber Brevior, Offertoriale Romanum, Chants Abrégés, all the gregorian ordinaries via the Kyriale Romanum, a decent amount of simpler organ music (example), parish book of chant (1st and 2nd editions), Richard Rice's communion books (with english and latin verses), Cantus Selecti, The Simple Choral Gradual, The Parish Book of Psalms,The American Gradual, The Gregorian Missal, The Palmer-Burgess Plainchant Gradual (pt 1, pt 2), The Revised Grail Psalms, Secunda anthologia vocalis (three voice motets), Fr. Kelly's Missal Chants (entrance, communion), Nova Organi Harmonia, the entire collection of organ scores for the ordinary for when I sub at my parish, random resources downloaded from the forum, the entire repertoire for each of the several choirs I sing in, as well as any specific music for Masses for which I plan to sing/direct/play for (which rotates around depending on what I'm doing), and a ton more (for example). Additionally, you can find a large number of motets on CPDL and other locations online.

It's between 1-2GB in all.

This collection lives in my dropbox on my computer, and also thanks to a third part app called DropSync, it is contained entirely offline on my tablet (Nexus 7, 2013) and my phone (nexus 5) and phone as well. I have used both of them at Masses, though obviously the nexus 7 is what I typically use. I use dropsync because the native android dropbox app only allows you to download individual files, not keep your entire collection offline on your device and synced.

Also, if you use THIS  LINK to sign up for dropbox, you can get an extra 500mb free.

I'd recommend the Nexus 9. I think it's a great option, and is quite fast. My tablet, the Nexus 7, is now being discontinued. It should allow you to store all these things offline and keep them synchronized like I doubt you could on an apple tablet. Adobe's PDF reader on android also allows me to take and edit notes (both typed and scribbled) allowing me to fully take notes like any other singer, but also to sync these notes to my computer and phone, so that they follow me no matter what device I use. Depending on how fast things are running I also use an android task manager to kill all background apps when I am getting ready to sing to ensure there is absolutely no lag or delay in the processing to change pages or change files (for example, from the graduale PDF to the PDF of my next motet).

I am very satisfied with this system. If anyone wanted to set themselves up with a similar system, I'd be more than willing to answer questions here or by email. I've used this for upwards of 2 years, so I am very comfortable with it and know all the tips and tricks related to this!