The lights dimmed, the Christmas performance started, and the orchestra played. Only the orchestra had something I didn’t expect. And it worked in a way I hadn’t expected.
This weekend, my family and I attended a Christmas performance at a local church. The sanctuary holds less than 1,000 people, which includes a small balcony, so let’s call it a small-ish church. The performance began with a 20-piece orchestra. Due to the size of this church and the acoustic properties of the room, there was really no need for electronic amplification. But then my eye caught a sight I didn’t expect…
…An electronic drum kit!
Imagine listening to an orchestra that is just below the stage but off to the right side. You expect to hear the majority of sounds of the orchestra coming from their location, low-end being a bit of an exception. And that’s exactly what happened this weekend.
But what about the electronic drums?
I expected to hear them from the house mains. Seems like that would make sense, don’t you think? However, had I heard them in the mains, wouldn’t that have sounded un-natural given the placement of the orchestra?
Instead, Dan, the FOH guy, used the monitor for the electronic drums in a dual role. He used them as the natural monitor for the drummer but also gave it enough volume so the audience would think the sound was coming from the drum kit, in the same location as the instrument itself, instead of coming from the mains 25 feet above their heads.
How often do you see or hear discussions on minimizing monitor volume? Monitors aren’t for the congregation to hear, right? At least not as the primary sound source. But then you have Dan and his creative use of using a monitor to give the effect of a natural instrument because that’s what the audience expects to hear.
Christmas season and Christmas performances are upon us. We find ourselves doing things we normal don’t do. This month, when you are challenged with doing something new, look around at the stage, consider the point of view of the audience, and be creative. You might find the perfect place to hide a floor monitor or place a choir microphone that you’d have otherwise missed. There are all sorts of ways to be creative. Dan did something creative and so can you!