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Sound Systems and Lighting

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  • Antony Currington
    Hi all, Recently my chorus (60 guys, 45 in this case) performed in a favourite venue of ours that seats approximately 1500 people. We have sung there before,
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 2 1:10 AM
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      Hi all,

      Recently my chorus (60 guys, 45 in this case) performed in a favourite venue
      of ours that seats approximately 1500 people. We have sung there before, and
      the venue is just amazing. It's possibly the best venue in the city as far
      as publicity goes (lots of big shows, name acts etc perform there)

      From where I was standing out front of the chorus, we sounded really good.

      Unfortunately, my wife (a Sweet Adeline) and a senior (very experienced)
      member of the chorus who was off sick (with no voice) were sitting in the
      audience and thought that our performance was not helped by the lighting
      effects and sound system that was used. Some of the chorus were in shadows
      where there weren't any lights to cover, and they used 4 floor mikes placed
      6 feet in front of the chorus (yes, between me and my chorus) to amplify our
      sound.

      I would like to build up a brief sheet that we can use as part of our
      contract in future when we perform in venues such as this. We don't do use
      these places often (perhaps once every couple of years), but when we sing
      there I'd like to show us off as our best.

      Do you and your choruses have such a sheet that outlines the following types
      of information...
      - Best sound setup for miking a chorus (I don't know what works best, floor
      mikes, overheads, what types of mikes?, how many?, how far apart)
      - Equipment requirements for both sound and lighting (I guess that's the
      above)
      - Lighting arrangements that do work (and perhaps those that don't) - how
      many, how do you light a chorus so you don't get shadows on faces (a BIG
      problem at this show), etc)
      - Do you use your own sound and/or lighting guys that are not singers in the
      chorus?

      If you have this sort of info, do you want to pass it along? We are trying
      to attract new members (aren't we all), but we believe that the good work we
      did was not transmitted to its best affect.

      p.s. The only real problem is that the guy in charge of the outfit that
      hired us thought that we were wonderful (a high point in the show), when we
      know we could have been so much better. Still, who can complain when we have
      another happy customer?

      Thanks in advance...
      Antony Currington
      -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
      Music Director - The Harbour Capital Chorus
      2001 NZABS Silver Medallist Chorus
      Email : acurri@... or md@...
      Come see us : http://www.hcc.org.nz
      -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    • dbaudio@aol.com
      In a message dated 4/2/02 4:14:50 AM, acurri@ihug.co.nz writes:
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 2 6:36 AM
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        In a message dated 4/2/02 4:14:50 AM, acurri@... writes:

        << From where I was standing out front of the chorus, we sounded really good.

        Unfortunately, my wife (a Sweet Adeline) and a senior (very experienced)
        member of the chorus who was off sick (with no voice) were sitting in the
        audience and thought that our performance was not helped by the lighting
        effects and sound system that was used. Some of the chorus were in shadows
        where there weren't any lights to cover, and they used 4 floor mikes placed
        6 feet in front of the chorus (yes, between me and my chorus) to amplify our
        sound.

        I would like to build up a brief sheet that we can use as part of our
        contract in future when we perform in venues such as this. We don't do use
        these places often (perhaps once every couple of years), but when we sing
        there I'd like to show us off as our best. >>

        Unfortunately, your experience is not unique. It is often difficult to judge
        the success of sound and lights from the stage. And it is also difficult to
        judge that success from only one positin in the audience.

        Creating a Technical Rider is a very good idea. I suggest you contact Ken
        Buckner in Kenosha for copies of the various reports and riders he has
        regarding contests and conventins. I'm sure he will be pleased to forward to
        you and anyone else who is interested useful information he has collected. In
        addition, regrading sound, I suggest you read Glen Glancy very good artical
        on sound for Brabershop which can be found through a link on the society
        website.

        I would, however, caution you that attaching a technical rider to your
        contract is only the first step. It is possible that a venue can meet the
        requirements of your rider and not actually serve the needs of your
        performance. Time and again I have witnessed venues and vendors provide what
        they think is appropriate equipment, and operate in a way that they feel is
        in the best interest of the artist, and yet not really understand the nature
        of the performance. It is your responsibility to learn enough (or get someone
        onboard who already is proficient) about sound and lighting equipment and the
        operation of that equipment so that they can direct the use of it in your
        venues.

        I am certain that there will be no shortage of posts with a variety of
        specific solutions to your problem.

        I have suggested to John Schneider and Ken Buckner that hands on sound and
        lights seminars be offered throughout the country, taught by practicing
        professionals (like myself). The very good paper written by Glen Glancy is of
        no value if those refering to it don't know what it means. Furthermore,
        committee people responsible for the technical aspects of shows and contests
        need a practical understanding of the variety of equipment and techiques
        appropriate to barbershop sound and lighting. Participants in the seminars
        would see (or hear) the use of a variety of equipment in a variety of ways,
        as well as learn how to trouble shoot in the case where the vendor is not
        qualified or resistant to solving problems such as noise and poor balance.
        Furthermore we would address aesthetic issues: what to demand in the look and
        deployment of sound and lighting equipment.

        Currently, I am experimenting with a variety of microphones and mic
        techniques in hopes of establishing a standard for the micing, reinforcement,
        and recording of quartets and choruses in contests. My research has not been
        requested nor sanctioned by the society, but I have been fortunate to have
        the cooperation and support of several districts and the AIC. You may have
        read some of the posts regarding our success with sound at MAD Prelims. I
        will continue my research at RMD Prelims this month, and in Portland with the
        AIC who will be performing on the contest stage for the first time in many
        years. In addition, I have had preliminary discussions with last year's
        International Chorus Champions, and hope to have the opportunity to
        collaborate with them in the near future.

        In regard to your specific questions, lighting seems to be a problem at most
        barbershop events. Most often, rather than being uneven as in your case,
        lighting in shows and contests is too bright and from too shallow of an
        angle. Typically the choruses are washed out, and the light glares off of
        white and metalic costumes. There is generally an absence of back and side
        light, resulting in a very "flat" look. in addition there is generally an
        absence of color in barbershop event lighting. Even in contest situations,
        the use of subtle color (for color correction purposes) would help make faces
        look more natural. The lighting at this year's MAD Prelims, while not ideal,
        was better than any I have seen to date at a Barbershop contest.

        I am not a lighting designer and cannot provide a generic light plot or
        ligting technical rider for you. I'm sure there are folks on the list who
        can. However, what you are looking for is an even wash over the entire
        performance area, and if possible even backlight and side light.

        An even wash cannot be accomplished solely from a single position in front of
        the chorus, as is customary in most of the events I have attended. A
        combination of "front" light and several positions on stage yields far better
        results.

        Regarding the micing of a chorus, an area in which I do have extensive
        professional experience, there is no simple answer. Under certain conditions,
        the four mics you mentioned placed as they were might be the correct
        solution. The variables that effect the success of a specific mic technique
        are the quality and operation of the PA (sound) system, the acoustics of the
        hall, the quality and placement of the microphones, the balance of the
        microphones (operation), and the interaction of the distance of the mics to
        the chorus and the distance of the chorus to the PA speakers. In addition,
        some sound systems sound ok at a loud level, but not at medium and soft
        volumes. Other times, a sound system might be intended for low level speech
        reinforcement, and not be appropriate for music. Even with an appropriate
        sound system and appropriate mics, the operator might not understand
        barbershop music, resulting in a less than successful sound.

        I will publish the results of my testing after the fall contests (currently
      • dbaudio@aol.com
        Forgive me, I hit the return button before finishing my long winderd response. What I had hoped to write in conclusion is that after the work I plan to do in
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 2 6:42 AM
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          Forgive me, I hit the "return" button before finishing my long winderd
          response.

          What I had hoped to write in conclusion is that after the work I plan to do
          in conjunction with MAD and RMD Fall Contests, I will publish the results of
          my research along with "NON OFFICIAL" recommendations for standard practices
          of sound for contests.

          Sincerely,

          Daryl Bornstein
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