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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jerry Friedman Amplification--starting trouble (12) Amplification--starting trouble 20 Aug 98


Here's a recent discussion from a mailing list I'm on--first comments from an acoustic-music fan named Mark Schaeffer, and then my reply. Any thoughts?

>There's a club I like to go to in Berkeley called the Freight and Salvage, >which is dedicated to the "preservation and performance of acoustic music." > And yes, the musicians (whether folk, jazz, or whatever) play acoustic >instruments -- but they're amplified up the wazoo by the club's >state-of-the-art sound system. I can see how that's sometimes a necessary >evil, but only as a last resort. There have been plenty of times when I've >been there on an off-night, when there are ten or twelve people in the >audience, and yet the amplification is going full-blast. On those >occasions I've occasionally approached the musicians at intermission and >said, "Since there are so few of us here, why don't we all move closer >together, get rid of those microphones, and let us really hear the >beautiful sounds of your voices and instruments?" And invariably, they >respond to me like I'm some kind of weirdo, like I'm asking them to perform >without their clothes on.

I think this is too bad--without believing in healing energy or disliking recorded music, I enjoy the idea that the performers are making the very sound waves that hit my ear. And the sound is nearly identical, as I said above, but not absolutely (certainly not in volume). However, I'd like to point out that unamplified singing can be hard on the voice, especially if the singer doesn't know the techniques that have been developed to reduce the strain. Also, many singers rely on certain effects that are possible only with a mike, such as singing pianissimo near the mike and relying on the amps to make the sound audible. Finally, a group that's used to balancing the loudnesses of the instruments and voices using mikes and amps may not be good at doing so acoustically.


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