Tuesday, December 05, 2006

From the mailbag...

Psachya writes:
I'd like to address some of Ron B.'s comments regarding the use of headphones or earbuds by club-daters. I have recently done some gigs with Yochi Briskman of Neginah, and he has a setup similar to the one described. As a sideman, I found several distinct advantages in using the headphones:
- I essentially had my own private monitor & mix, which I could alter at any moment. If nothing else, it's a lot of fun. For example, if the sax player is doing a hot solo, I can boost him a little; if he's doing routine section stuff, down he goes. It's a hoot!
- More importantly, it makes it easier for particular musicians to hear each other efficiently. As the keyboard guy (usually playing a bass split), I often find myself with the entire band separating me & the guitarist. (Why bandleaders do that is a whole 'nother blog, but there are legitimate reasons, and I often do it when I lead bands as well.) The problem is, obviously, that we can't hear each other's changes very clearly, and have to make educated guesses as to what the other one is playing. This problem is eliminated with the 'phones - in many ways, it makes the band sound tighter.
- I can actually hear myself play. (If no one else, the keyboard players out there will know what I'm talking about.)
- As I use the heaphones as opposed to the earbuds, it has the added advantage of acting like earplugs in terms of blocking out volume, without blocking out the actual music.
- When Yochi uses this system, he has his own twist - he has one mike set up for his voice to go only into our phones. This way, he can instruct the musicians in their ears without having to shout over the music. This obviously leads to a much more efficient gig, and the bandleader can put much more of his own stamp on the gig as it is in progress. For Yochi, who leads from the drums, this is obviously a particular advantage.
- In regard to some of Ron B's other points, I see his point regarding the use of monitors AND headphones. There may be a reason for it - I'm not a tech guy, so what do I know. Also, I can't speak for the sound on the floor - it's hard to guage that from the bandstand. I will say that having an engineer - wherever he is situated - beats what I see 95% of the time, which is no engineer at all. Usually the bandleader runs the sound, and has to rely on field reports, which usually consist of an old lady telling us that we're much too loud at around the same time that a bochur is telling us that we're not loud enough. So having an engineer is a step in the right direction - let's not discourage that, shall we? There are times that "techno razzle-dazzle and sizzle-sazzle processing" (to use Ron's words) actually makes the music sound better. Here's hoping.
K. writes:
wondering about neginah.. Did you have a bad experience with them???

Just read something weird..in a negative way. And I booked them for my wedding.
My response:
Neginah is a large well-established band that has been playing for many years. I’m sure you’ve heard them before, liked what they do, and that’s why you hired them. They can do a very nice job and many people are very happy with their work.

I’d not let something some blogger wrote cause you too much worry. :)

If you have a specific concern, you probably should talk it over with them.

If I can be of further help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Mazal Tov on your wedding!