Soniccouture – Crowd Choir (KONTAKT, WAV, EXS, ALP)

By | December 31, 2016

The ‘Crowd-choir’ was an idea for a crowd-sourced sampled instrument, partly inspired by the 10cc track ‘I’m not in love’, which famously featured a vocal pad sound created by painstakingly over-dubbing a single vocal note over and over again.

We wondered if we could get hundreds of people all around the world to sing one note each from a 3 octave range – then layer these recordings in a sampler to create a unique vocal sound – a wash of different voices in different rooms in different countries.

We put up a web page which displayed a single note name – C1, B3, etc – and also played a guide tone to sing to, if required. Each user was provided with instructions on how best to record their note – which format, sample rate etc – and a web form by which they could upload the audio file along with their name and email address.

Each participant was entered into a competition to win a desirable musical instrument, an Array Mbira, as well as offered a free downoad of the resulting instrument.
Over 1000 people contributed over a 3 month period – a fantastic success for the project, since when we started it we really had no idea if anyone would contribute at all.

Most of those 1000 people recorded more than one note ( and some contributed a lot more), meaning that we ended up with slightly over 4000 different notes to build an instrument from. Most of the notes occured in the middle of the C1 – C4 range, since people tended to sing the notes they found easiest. For example, while E2 has 206 voices, C4 only has 28.

The Virtual Instrument
Of course, this was the real thrill of the whole project – finding out how the instrument would actually sound. Such an ‘imaginary’ instrument is only possible within a sampler, which is the strength of the entire concept. We were not trying to emulate something from the real world, but rather create something unique and human in the virtual world.

You can judge for yourself how it sounds, either from the audio demos or by buying the instrument ( all proceeds to charity). But we think it worked very well, from a sonic perspective. We never intended it to sound like a natural choir; we expected it to sound very mellotron-like, as in the 10cc track. However, it surprised us ; the richness of 1000 different voices singing into different microphones in 1000 different rooms adds a depth that would be hard to achieve any other way. And it’s interesting that the varying recording quality of the many submissions really doesn’t matter at all in the end result – if anything it adds more character, but never degrades the sound.

We’d like to say thanks to all who took part and made it such a unique success.

  • 1000 different voices, 4000 notes
  • 500 MB Library
  • Kontakt 4 + 5, EXS24, Live
  • Polyphonic Legato function
  • 5 Round Robin layers
  • All profits to charity ( Red Cross )


Leave a Reply