Mudcat Café message #3396790 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #146386   Message #3396790
Posted By: GUEST,SoundMan
28-Aug-12 - 11:07 PM
Thread Name: So how was Sidmouth 2012 for you?
Subject: RE: So how was Sidmouth 2012 for you?
Hi..I am the sound Engineer at the Anchor Gardens during the Folk Festival and came across this thread and thought I ought to clear up a few misconceptions.
The PA system and myself are paid for by the Anchor Inn, NOT by the Folk Festival.
Whilst most of the acts are programmed by the festival the Soul/Covers band referred to by some people was programmed and paid for by the Anchor Inn, as was clearly stated in both the program and billboards at the venue.
As to whether some of the other acts are appropriate at a folk festival that issue would need taking up with the festival organisers. My own opinion is that just because music is played on acoustic guitars, violins etc it does not necessarily make it folk music.
The volume of the music seems to be an issue with some people, this is something I am very aware of, especially as being an open air venue the sound is not contained just to the area of the venue. Bass in particular will always be an issue, as the long wavelengths of bass frequecies are omnidirectional and cannot be focused into just the area of the venue, unlike the top frequecies which are focused into a 120 degree arc in front of the stage. There is a new development of cardoid bass speaker arrays, but these are very elaborate and expensive. The volume level is also something I try to keep appropriate to the music being played and the audience. The Anchor is a free public venue open to all, and is used as a social gathering and drinking place for locals, day visitors and holidaymakers, as well as for festivalgoers, it is NOT a dedicated festival venue, this does mean that volume levels often have to be higher than I would use at a dedicated closed venue like the Ham where the audience sit in silence and listen to the music. Also the ground slopes down away from the stage area, so once the venue gets busy and bodies start absorbing the higher frequencies I do have to turn those frequencies up a little in order for them to get to the back clearly, this can result in a slightly harsher sound close to the speakers, I try and keep a compromise that is acceptable to all those in the venue. The overall volume level is essentially governed by the nature of the music being played and the audiences response to it. An acoustic duo playing ballads being listened to by a quiet sit down audience will be at a low level, whilst a large band playing Folk Rock to a large standing/dancing audience will be at a high level. The fact that ceilidh and folk bands bands that seem to get the best response from the Anchor audience fall into the latter category and so form an increasing part of the repetoire is something which I know more traditional folkies may have a problem with, but the audience vote with their feet, and those bands get the best overall response at the Anchor, especially for the evening concerts, we even had bands that played earlier in the week as acoustic acts turn up later in the week having gathered extra musicians with drums and an amplified rhythm section, or a horn section. Personally I enjoy many of these modern variations to the traditional folk theme, though one of my favourite bands of the week was the medieval music band, Revellion, who were one of the more traditional bands of the week and thus did not require playing at a high volume.
It needs to be remembered that folk music is an ever evolving music genre, and that whilst the past must be respected, appreciated and kept alive, if it tries to preserve itself in aspic, allowing only music approved by Martin Carthy and the songs of Cecil Sharpe, lovely as they are, it will stagnate, and that as younger people and those from other musical genres discover folk music they will add their own interpretions to it, as well as bringing in the use of different or more modern instruments and sound systems. This may not always be a welcome addition for those more accustomed to the traditional folk scene, but undoubtedly at one time quill was put to parchment and a missive despatched to Ye Olde Folk Monthly, bemoaning the awfull intrusion of polyphony into plainsong.