Performing Amplified: A study of what and what not to do.

July 12, 2005 at 04:58 PM · I just had the opportunity to perform in a most interesting situation. I was asked to play Meditation from Thais at the General Conference Session of Seventh-Day Adventists in St. Louis. The session was being held in the main stadium of America's Center. It holds upwards of 100,000 people and was nearly filled. Because of the vast number of people in the stadium I had to be amplified. In addition, because 5 satellite networks were broadcasting the sessions live there was no way for the piano to be nearby (as the stage movement had to be seamless, quick, and tidey). My accompanist and I were so far away from each other (with my back to her) that the only way I could hear her was through the floor monitors.

I found the entire situation not at all ideal for a cohesive performance and altogether quite unnerving. However, despite the 3 second reverbe in the building and the amplified sound delay I think it came off a bit better than I expected and was surprisingly musical (though somewhat careful) despite the situation. I believe I'll have to chalk this experience up as just another learning opportunity and next time (if that happens) I'll know what to expect and how to deal with it even better.

Here's a poor quality streaming video of it. The performance occurs right after the prayer that is said in German right at the beginning.

mms://archived.hopetv.org/atn/gc2005-07-07-program.wmv

if that doesn't work go to http://hopetv.org/article.php?id=22&PHPSESSID=a630128aefe8cb3ec4e4060317ee605c and click on July 7 "evening program".

Let me know what you think: What I could do better and what I could keep.

Preston

Replies (11)

July 12, 2005 at 06:22 PM · Will you marry me? Seriously.

Okay, I just looked at you info and I think you're a lot older....that makes me sad. It sounds absolutely amazing. It's hard to tell one hundred percent because the quality of the tape isn't that great. The only thing I'd say is to be careful in the part that sunddenly gets forte at the end. When you go right into it it has to stick right away. Of course, this also could have been the sound on the video. Anyway, it was amazing.

July 12, 2005 at 07:53 PM · I wonder if that is the first violiist.com marriage proposal? :)

July 12, 2005 at 10:36 PM · Marry me too! But seriously, that's great. I like what you did with it a lot. As for positioning and hearing, you can make reasonable suggestions to whoever's running the stage. If you can stand in-ear monitoring, that's the modern solution in the pop world to the reverberation problem.

Unfortunately a lot of people here are going to miss this great performance because the thread title won't interest them.

July 13, 2005 at 02:22 AM · LOL!! I just got two marriage proposals! That's hilarious.

Regarding the forte at the end. Yes, I hear what you mean, although I think the recording picked up a round of applause that occured at that point and drowned out my planned forte. :(

One technical thing that did bother me was my vibrato. For some reason I often did not continue it to the end of the note and get a seamless transition to the next note. I must have been hearing the vibrato continue in the buildings reverbe or something.

Jim, regarding the title. I'm not too worried, the streaming video is so bad that it's not worth the download and I really am just wanting input about performing amplified (I've only had to do it twice). I like you're idea about ear monitors though it would be strange hearing the acoustic vibrations directly from the violin and the electronic reproduction so close to eachother. I'll try it some time and see.

Thanks for you're input everyone.

Preston

July 13, 2005 at 02:31 AM · Great performance! There wasn't much wrong with it that I noticed. However, a few tips:

Enquire into the use of Bud microphones or shotgun microphones. A shotgun mic placed over the top of your violin might be easier to play to as it will have a wider range in which it will pick up the violin, so you won't need to be as close to the mic for it to pick you up. Bud mics are another option, in which a small microphone is attached just above your bridge. Not the ideal situation, as it would pick up a bit of the scratchyness that is lost a bit further out.

Also, request that if you can not be close together, then that you can at least have line of sight. If the piano is being amplified, then you don't really need to have it facing the ideal way, and instead could have it in a different place which would allow for better communication.

Anyway, a good performance. That would have to be one of the largest audiences you've ever played for - I didn't see any sign of nerves - great!

July 13, 2005 at 03:17 AM · With a pair of them you woudln't be hearing anything except what's coming off the mixing board. Everything else would be practically plugged out. I've done a bit of it, though not with violin. If Charlie Daniels is here, speak up :)

You should post your good recording of it somewhere.

July 13, 2005 at 03:48 AM · Ben,

A bud mic would have been ideal to be sure. Perhaps I'll suggest that to the organizers for the next session. Regarding the piano: It would have been so much better had it been in my line of sight, but there was just no way for it to work out that way because of the broadcasting (they needed the large instruments to the side). Had I had more time I would have requested to play on the other side of the stage facing a second piano on stage right but I was basically rushed from practice room to prep. to stage. It was a pretty big crowd though I did play for a similar sized audience in St. Petersburgh Russia in 1997, though there was no TV viewing audience then (which this time I think was estimated around 10 million which I tried not to think about). I was actually quite nervous (simply because of the vast viewing audience...who knows who was watching!!1) the entire day and up until I put my bow on the violin but as always I was fine as soon as I felt the string on my bow.

Thanks again all. If I can get a DVD of the performance I'll try and post it if you want.

Preston

July 13, 2005 at 04:06 AM · Did you feel like the mic'ing was an issue? Just out of curiosity, did you get a run-through on stage that afternoon or did they just stick you out there?

July 13, 2005 at 06:00 AM · You didn't say yes to my proposal....age doesn't matter. really....lol....um, I'm not a loony I swear. It's just that you sound incredible and you're very handsome...and I need a violinist in my life. Anyway. Great Job.

July 13, 2005 at 06:58 AM · Jim,

There was no run through just a quick sound check of about 2 minutes where they adjusted the levels of the floor monitors. I find mic'ing is always an issue because I HATE being amplified but I knew in this situation it was needed. I think a bud mic would have allowed me more freedom as I was basically planted to the spot in front of that mic stand.

Annie, I am flattered by your comments and your marriage proposal, however, I have made it a policy to only marry one with whom I have had a least 2 meaningful email or Instant Messenger conversations. :P

...that goes for you too Jim.

Preston

July 13, 2005 at 09:31 AM · Haha! This is the best thread ever, how sweet. Annie, if you were a sound engineer then this would be a marriage made in heaven :-p

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