Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stage Volume

I get to play in a lot of situations from small venues to stadiums and one of the biggest issues is stage volume. Most people will always blame me because I'm the drummer and they will say the only reason the band is loud is because the drums are too loud. All drummers get blamed for this at one time or another. The truth is that we are not at all the culprits. Think about it, especially in an arena or large auditorium setting, we don' have amps. When the other musicians play loud we are sometimes forced to get more drums in the monitors or just hit harder to be able to control and drive the band. The remedy to this is everyone one on stage realizing what's most important. The most important thing is to sound like an ensemble in which the featured vocalist or instrumentalist is the focal point and everything else serves as support. Now most of us are mature enough to understand less is more in terms of notes but a lot of us still don't understand that it also applies to stage volume. I saw Rachelle Ferrell recently and of course the show was fabulous but what most impressed me was the fact that the band was so focused on keeping their stage volume beneath her vocal at ALL times. Notice I said the BAND. The fact that they were all tuned in to this concept as a unit made the whole presentation most enjoyable for the audience and I'm sure for them as well. Now here is the answer to the test. Stage volume usually gets out of whack starting with the bass player. The bass resides at a very dominate frequency and in a small situation if the bass is too loud then the entire band will try to compensate by playing louder. If the bass player keeps his/her volume at a low level then the drummer will also be able to play at a lower volume and can still drive the band. As for guitarist's, please be aware that your instrument resides in the same frequency range as the vocalist and you MUST always played beneath the vocalist and voice your chords and licks to not conflict with the vocalist. The same goes for the keyboardist. Be sure to keep the stage volume down. Bottom line, if you can't hear EVERYTHING going on, you are playing too loud. Keep in mind that the lower the stage volume the better the front of house engineer can make you sound out front. So on your next concert try to approach your stage volume in this manner and I guarantee that you will hear an immediate difference in you over all sound and you will also see a difference in the response of your audience. Have a great show!

The Truth
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1 comment:

  1. As a musician (keyboardist) and vocalist this has ALWAYS been my biggest complaint. I'm constantly straining in order to hear myself over the rest of the band. This is especially true at an open jam. Everyone wants to be the star instead of taking turns with the leads and using proper dynamics. But try telling half deaf veteran rockers to turn down!! Good luck with that!! LOL I don't know what the solution is, but I can guarantee you this, if I ever front my own band that will be the first rule. Works smarter, not harder!!