Saturday, January 7, 2012

We Don't Need No Steenkeeng Sound Gear!

When I was in college the first time, I was in an a cappella chorus. No sound reinforcement. No instruments. Nothing but the human voice. Depending on which year we're talking about, there were anywhere from 25 to 60 young college students singing together. The sound from the risers was completely different from the sound in the conductor's position (I was chorus VP and student conductor for a while). Both of those positions were, of course, completely different from being in the audience.

But even better than that was when the bus broke down (small Christian university, not much money, it happened a lot) and we practiced on the bus to while away the time. Simply magic.

The church I worship with is in the a cappella tradition--no band, no instruments whatsoever other than the human voice. My particular congregation seats anywhere from 900-1,200 at any one time, depending on whether school's in session or not. Shame on me for getting jaded by hearing great singing every Sunday (about 50%-60% have been in choruses before), but every now and then, I hear that magic again. Goose bumps for real.

What I dig about some of the flash mob phenomena is that you don't expect to hear great singing--but when it happens, it's awe-inspiring and very moving. I remember going to a workshop in Tulsa, OK a few years back when the crowds were pretty big. A bunch of us who didn't know each other from Adam all went to eat at a huge restaurant nearby. Probably 200-300 of us in line started singing hymns together. Unexpected goose bumps!

There's nothing like live music.

Especially when you have nothing between the performers and the ears in the audience.

The sound of the Public Address gear takes a li'l something away from the performance, as the state of sound reinforcement in general is pretty poor right now. You don't get to hear an acoustic guitar, a violin or a human voice in an amplified concert quite like you do in, say, a house concert or a small club. Even a top-notch recording is not the same.

BTW, I just happened across this video on YouTube. It's Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale in an impromptu a cappella performance for a stewardess aboard a jet waiting on some maintenance. It kind of captures the feeling and atmosphere from my chorus days on the broken down bus. The poor stewardess didn't know what hit her. ;^)


1 comment:

Carrie said...

Yup! Good days in college and in the congregation too.... I'm a little biased tho in that I get to sit next to (at least most of the time) a low bass! :)

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