Those speakers are for what, now?

Why are many performers using sound systems during their concerts?

I once attended a concert and felt a tingle in my arms.

Not because of a heart-attack, nor because I was cold.

There was a moment of simple beauty.

A “Goosebump Moment” as George Marriner Maull of the Discovery Orchestra calls it.

What causes such music-inspired goosebumps?

goosebumps

A whole bunch of things, really, not least of which is the sheer physical vibrations of the air in the room. At that particular event a series of sound waves puncturing the atmosphere hit me at just the right frequency to cause my physical being to shudder with excitement.

Sound familiar? I sure hope so!

Another concert of exactly the same piece a little while later failed to reproduce a goosebump moment. Why would that be?

A whole bunch of reasons, really, not least of which was the sheer bombardment of sound that neither my brain nor my body knew what to do with. At that particular event the performing ensemble had multiple microphones on stage and an audio engineer in an open booth at the back of the room underneath a balcony ‘balancing’ the sound.

Disturbed and agitated

Even to a trained ear it was difficult to audibly tell the difference between the acoustic version and the version supported by a sound system, other than the fact that one performance felt special and the other felt disturbed and agitated.

There is no need to reproduce live classical music with electronic support! Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of times a sound system is useful in concert, and sometimes necessary, but not as frequently as some folk like us to believe.

For example, how can you hear the Emcee/ MC/ Master of Ceremonies or Conductor talk between pieces? Or how do you hear the recording of nightingales that Respighi calls for in the third movement of his marvelous piece Pines of Rome?

But regular, violin, clarinet, piano or other straight instrument playing or singing should not need supporting through a sound system. Why not?

Here’s what happens with those sound waves:

Acoustic Performances

speakers1

 

Performances with a speaker

speakers2

 

Performances with multiple speakers

speakers3

 

Performances with multiple performers and multiple speakers

speakers4

 

Performances mimicking trendy concert practices with multiple banks of speakers

speakers5

 

How is this enhancing music? I don’t get it. Give me that first speaker-free option any day of the week, please!

Do you think sound systems in classical music are helpful or harmful?

 

Photo credit

Why rename everything?

Is describing what something is not enough?

I have never understood why decision makers in classical music particularly, but the performing arts in general, give in to the trend of renaming everything according to whoever has the most money.

If someone makes a big donation for a new facility, great! ADD their name to it, do not replace the original name!

The Tampa Ice Palace where the Lightening Ice Hockey team are based and many concerts are held became the St Petersburg Times Forum which became the Tampa Bay Times Forum when the sponsor changed its own name, and is now the Amalie Arena now that a new sponsor has been seduced – that well known oil company neither sports nor the performing arts can live without. At least we know it is an arena. (When I hear “Forum” I think of a Roman government building.)

Worse are the PACs (Performing Arts Centers). Everyone knows what a PAC is, and where it is. For example, if I want to produce a concert in New Jersey, I could look at the NJ PAC in New Jersey. Or if I wanted to take an orchestra to NYC, I could book the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in… Tribeca, New York.

But there is no Tampa PAC (anymore). No St. Petersburg (USA) PAC. Not even a Clearwater PAC. No, if I am from out of Florida and want to see what’s going on in the Tampa Bay region, I’d easily find things like the Tarpon Springs PAC (300 seats), the Largo PAC (460 seats), or the 800 seat Palladium (not a PAC, but the term is sufficiently in use throughout history to be recognized as a performance venue). Places such as the Straz Center (a science lab, or a five-theater complex with 4,000 seats?), the Mahaffey (a snooty chef restaurant, or a 2,000 seat theater?), or even Ruth Eckerd Hall (a Biltmore-like mansion with beautiful gardens, or a modern 1,800 seat concert venue?) would be totally passed over. Their names do not describe what they do.

Throughout history concert halls have borne the name of their patrons, but they are still concert halls. Orchestras, string quartets, concert and community bands, all tell us what they do, whatever sponsor or patron name precedes them.

Actually, there are some traditional performing groups playing at various unrecognizable venues that are beginning to follow a similar trend. I do wish they would stop it. Tell us what you are or do, please.

Thanks to Mark Stivers for this little laugh;

Mozart Tribute Band

If it’s getting late and I really need to get some sleep I really should not click on your latest offerings here [on your Facebook page]. If I do, bells & whistles always go off in my brain & I’m up for hours thinking, when I should be sleeping. I look really worn out but I feel smarted. Thank you.

James Reid
SPB's Facebook Page

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Piano outside

Rachmaninoff: Symphony 2 – 1

Stephen's Classical Rate N Slate

Hear what British American Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown has to say about classical music, and why you should find a local performance to attend. You might agree with his rating and slating! Listen to Stephen’s Hall of Fame concert every morning and evening on Classic Pinellas Radio.

Download mp3 or buy CD:

Armstrong: Romeo and Juliet – Balcony Scene

Stephen's Classical Rate N Slate

Hear what British American Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown has to say about classical music, and why you should find a local performance to attend. You might agree with his rating and slating! Listen to Stephen’s Hall of Fame concert every morning and evening on Classic Pinellas Radio.

Download mp3 or buy CD:

Beethoven: Symphony 3 – 1

Stephen's Classical Rate N Slate

Hear what British American Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown has to say about classical music, and why you should find a local performance to attend. You might agree with his rating and slating! Listen to Stephen’s Hall of Fame concert every morning and evening on Classic Pinellas Radio.

Download mp3 or buy CD:

Bruch: Scottish Fantasy

Stephen's Classical Rate N Slate

Hear what British American Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown has to say about classical music, and why you should find a local performance to attend. You might agree with his rating and slating! Listen to Stephen’s Hall of Fame concert every morning and evening on Classic Pinellas Radio.

Download mp3 or buy CD: