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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001153.txt from 2003/06

From: Karl Krelove <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Electronic Acoustical Performance
Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2003 22:02:30 -0400

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ormondtoby Montoya []
> This is an overstatement, Jim. While I agree with you and Karl Krelove
> that excessive amplification is a bad thing --- indoors or outdoors ---
> *proper* amplification is appropriate and improves the musical
> experience in many (many, many) indoor situations.
> During one concert that I remember especially well, Sharon Isbin
> (classical guitar virtuoso, one level above Segovia, imo) played a few
> notes and then had to stop because she was inaudible. She reached
> under her chair and plugged something in. <snip>
> The fact is that a classical guitar solo needs amplification in order to
be heard at the back of most
> auditoriums.

The only guitarist I ever heard in live concert played in a relatively small
(maybe 600 or 700 seat) auditorium and it was an enjoyable performance
without an amp. I can imagine the same player would have needed some help at
the Academy of Music or the new Kimmel Center here (in Philadelphia), and I
suppose a guitar recital in so large a hall makes economic sense if the
artist is of sufficient ability and reputation that he/she can sell a house
that big. Point taken, but I'd suggest that the need for amplification here
is because the venue isn't really appropriate for the act.

> Even when multiple instruments are involved, proper
> balancing of sound by appropriate amplification improves the results (or
> compensates for the auditorium's defects, if you wish).

Yes, I can imagine in my own inner ear the sound of an acoustic ensemble
with just a slight amount of help clarifying instrumental (or human) voices
that otherwise can't compete with surrounding unamplified sound levels,
although, purist that I seem to be becoming, I'm not sure such a situation
doesn't come from an attempt to correct artificially the judgmental errors
of some musician somewhere along the line (composer, arranger, the
ensemble's organizer). If the group is acoustically unbalanced, whose
responsibility is it and shouldn't there be a way to correct the problem
acoustically? Still, what you're suggesting is certainly far better than
what I'm complaining about, and may be appropriate in some cases. I think
the main characteristic of that kind of electronic help is that you'd still
be able clearly to hear acoustical sound coming directly from the
performers, and if that were the case I'd be happy.

Did they have amplification at Bayreut during Wagner's lifetime? Do they
now? I've never been there, but I suspect even now the singers manage
without help. Did Mary Martin and Alfred Drake have as much (or any)
electronic help in the 1940s? Did the original jazz bands of the 1920's and
1930's have amplification at all? I wasn't there, so I honestly don't know.
My only exposure to anything earlier than the mid-1950s is via recordings,
so I can't tell.


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