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Virtually identical: Little difference between singing in live and online choirs, study finds

This visualization shows the 8,000 performers of Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 5, which was assembled for the 'Deep Field' film soundtrack. Provided

In a world where technology grows ever-entwined with our daily lives, it's become easier to see its flaws rather than its merit. We are flooded with news of how detrimental technology can be to socialization and how it cultivates feelings of depression and anxiety.

When it comes to music, though, technology can actually bring people closer together than ever before and have similar effects to live music-making, according to a new study.

The study, released on May 30, showed that singing in a "virtual choir" is good for mental health and comparable to singing in a choir in person.

The study was conducted by University College of London in partnership with composer Eric Whitacre and Music Productions, a marketing and management company. Whitacre has pioneered the use of virtual choirs in performing his music.

Participants in both live choirs and Whitacre's Virtual Choir 5.0 answered questions for the study about "social presence, the connections made by individuals through face-to-face or online communication, and how they use singing to help regulate their emotions," according to a press release about the results.

Both live and virtual groups reported experiencing "improved self esteem, greater individual confidence and a stronger sense of personal agency," the statement said.

Along with positive impact on mental health, the results suggest that a virtual choir experience can help combat feelings of social isolation and promote a sense of connection to others.

"We've seen this response so often with each of our Virtual Choirs," Whitacre said. "The experience is open to people with disabilities of all types, and to those who are isolated geographically. The virtual choir experience is open to people in ways that go beyond what most traditional choirs can offer."

Whitacre started the first virtual choir after being inspired by a fan who recorded a cover of his song "Sleep." This, in turn, inspired the composer to ask more of his fans to record themselves singing to his conducting of Lux Aurumque. These videos were then combined into a single performance, creating a user-generated virtual choir of singers from around the world.

The Virtual Choir 1.0 of 185 singers has grown to include more than 8,000 singers of all ages from 120 countries for Virtual Choir 5.0.

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