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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do You Play Too Loud?

Hi there,

It's not very inspiring, when you're pouring your heart, soul and voice into a song and mid way through an impassioned top A, someone shakes a finger in front of your face. They are gesturing to you to 'turn it down!' and it's difficult to re-enter the emotional zone once the parade has been rained on.

But do we, as musos or singers, have to have our volume up to the Spinal Tap setting to feel the vibe? I think it depends - the mood of the band should match the room or at least the intended atmosphere of the occasion. Do people want to have conversations over cocktails? If everyone has fingers in their ears, I might get an inkling we need to turn it down. Or do our audience want to lose their inhibitions - and possibly control of their limbs - on a dance floor? If people want to cut loose and the music is too soft they will feel uncomfortable, even if they don't know why. Either way, much as we may not like it, it's not all about us! If we as bands don't fit the brief we've been booked for, venues will stop hiring us and maybe even come to the conclusion that 'live music just doesn't work'.

One of those dreaded emails about volume levels came around from management at a certain venue where I do a regular gig. It asked all bands to keep it down. Of course I grumbled, the guitarist grouched and the drummer groaned. But then we did as we were told and the guitarist took along his acoustic instead of electric, the drummer carried in his cajon instead of the usual small kit and I got to take my head voice and falsetto for a nice night out. We started the gig with pursed lips but then, a few songs in, we found ourselves enjoying playing together in this different, lighter mode, hearing each nuance. The audience loved it and we got booked again. Maybe we'll save our cover of 'Like My Love Pump' for another occasion then...
See you next time,

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