Saturday, October 27, 2012

Keyboard cheat sheet

When playing with smaller groups, I find that I need to change the keyboard instrument tones quite often to insure that the combo keeps a fresh and interesting sound palette. The only problem is trying to remember all of the patch numbers of my favorite sounds.

I took a technique that I saw in the 60s and 70s when marking which instrument tracks were recorded on two inch magnetic tape recording studio mixing boards.The engineer attached a strip of one-inch medical adhesive tape and used a sharpie pen to write down what instruments were recorded at the base of the boards track numbers. Of course now with digital recorders, one need just double click the track number and overwrite it with the instrument name.

So what happens if I need to change the voice selection list? A Mr. Clean Magic Erasure is a quick and easy way to remove the tape glue residue.

Good Gigging!

Larry Marra

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who's number #1

I get this question all the time...

Who is the most important member of the band?

Is it the drummer who sets the tempo ? nope....

How about the bass. still no....

Lead trumpet? (They would like to think so)....

Band leader? OH HEAVENS NO! Some bands perform better without one.

Give up? It's the sound engineer! (no kidding)

Case in point....

I was playing keyboard Saturday in the house band for our local Christian Radio Station live feed at our County Chocolate festival . This annual event is really neat. Churches set up booths at the County Fairgrounds to pass out free chocolate to kids and literature about their churches youth programs to parents. They had a "bounce House", lots free skill games, and even an appearance by "Willie Wonka".

A good sound engineer is invaluable as the sound of all the instruments must blend together to make a pleasing impression especially over the radio. Fortunately, this station employs the best sound techs I have ever met! I plugged my keyboard into a direct box and then set the volume to 50%. The techs placed a monitor right by my left foot (pictured) and used the keyboard stand to angle the speaker directly at my ears. I heard every instrument perfectly balanced and felt as if I was listening to a professionally mixed CD track of the band.

Just one week earlier, I was the host of the Area's Annual outdoor Guitarfest. For this event I am the host that introduces and interviews the guitarists at a rather large park with a band shell. For this event, the coordinator uses a volunteer sound tech that happens to own a tone of PA equipment in which he has no idea how to run.

Most of the time my mic wasn't hot and every song was riddled with squealing feedback.

Long day!

So... The next time you attend an event which uses a qualified and skilled sound tech, please make a point to approach and let them know that your enjoyable experience was because they are the most important member of the band.

Good Giging!

Larry Marra