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PA and morris

GUEST,FloraG 08 May 18 - 02:40 AM
Sandra in Sydney 08 May 18 - 02:44 AM
BobL 08 May 18 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,Jerry 08 May 18 - 03:11 AM
GUEST,FloraG 08 May 18 - 02:21 PM
Gordon Jackson 08 May 18 - 02:59 PM
GUEST,Jerry 08 May 18 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,FloraG 09 May 18 - 02:51 AM
Dave the Gnome 09 May 18 - 03:08 AM
GUEST 09 May 18 - 03:25 AM
Gordon Jackson 09 May 18 - 03:28 AM
Howard Jones 09 May 18 - 05:54 AM
banjoman 09 May 18 - 07:27 AM
Jack Campin 09 May 18 - 10:24 AM
RTim 09 May 18 - 10:37 AM
Gordon Jackson 09 May 18 - 11:37 AM
Howard Jones 09 May 18 - 06:32 PM
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Subject: PA and morris
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 May 18 - 02:40 AM

At Sweeps this year we came across more sides using PA. I did not come across one that sounded good.
Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 08 May 18 - 02:44 AM

All the sides I know make enough noise with their projected speaking & singing voices plus traditional instruments so don't need amplification!


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: BobL
Date: 08 May 18 - 03:10 AM

Well, Beltane's solo fiddle isn't going to punch through their wall of drums on its own - and frankly, without the (controlled) distortion, their sound would lose some of its impact. The only other side I noticed using amps - Hobos IIRC - kept them at a suitably low level to achieve a balanced sound overall. There may well have been others but being in a performing side myself, I didn't get to see them all.

And a very few sides had just one or two musicians, who couldn't be heard beyond the other end of the set - a bit of amplification might actually have helped there.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 08 May 18 - 03:11 AM

Yes, it shouldn’t be necessary, but as one side starts to use it then so will others in order to compete for ear space. In others cases, it becomes necessary if there are too many outdoor amplified music stages drowning out the dances; generally the stages are more discreet than at the likes of Faversham Hop Festival where Morris is ousted by the proliferation of pub rock bands playing outdoors, but then that technically is no longer a folk festival.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 May 18 - 02:21 PM

Yes- a single instrument might need a bit of help. There is no problem with the balance then. I think the problem is when there is more than one instrument and the balance is poor.
I thought Rochester was better this year with fewer competing sounds from organised bands in the traditional dancing area.
Jerry - I agree about Faversham, more of a boot fair these days. Its a shame as we had some terrific sing arounds in the now defunct Crown and Anchor.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 08 May 18 - 02:59 PM

I appreciate that FloraG was asking specifically about morris sides, but as a member of a trad duo I feel I can comment.

We played three times at this year's Sweeps: once in a pub with our own small PA, once on an outdoor stage with full PA and once unamplified on the wonderful sailing barge Kitty.

I think the use or not of a PA depends to a large extent on the venue, both in terms of its size and also its clientele (quiet listeners, loud revelers etc).

We usually play with a PA, but welcome the opportunity to play as nature intended. Playing on the Kitty was a delight!

A lot of morris sides have become very drum heavy, so a PA makes sense (as does fewer drums).

Gordon


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 08 May 18 - 05:56 PM

I think therein lies the problem; too many sides rely on drums to attract attention and then the instrumentalists have to amplify to be heard above their own side’s percussion. Fewer drums would seem the best solution, especially in the acoustic canyon that is Rochester High Street. To be fair, the outdoor stages at Sweeps are mostly away from the High Street and don’t really impact on the dance displays, other than perhaps in Boley Hill where the Stage has migrated nearer of late.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 09 May 18 - 02:51 AM

Thanks for a contribution Gordon, and by the sound of it you enjoyed Sweeps.
How did you learn to balance your act acoustically eg not play to loud when singing etc. because you can't hear yourself as the audience hear you. A number of bands get this wrong when they don't have their soundperson knob twiddling.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 May 18 - 03:08 AM

My Concertina playing is not really up to scratch for the Morris team I occasionally squeeze along with so, if there are no other musicians available, I play along to a prerecorded soundtrack! Not quite the same I know but technology is involved!


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 18 - 03:25 AM

It can be tricky. Balancing per se is not quite the issue; it's more a case of knowing that we have two quite loud instruments: my new Oakwood octave mandola packs a punch, and Sam's vintage Paolo Soprani button box is the Stratocaster of accordions! The challenge for me, as the main singer, and not normally having the loudest of voices, is to sing with more projection without descending to the kind of bawling associated with, ahem, some morris sides! Also, I will often simply ask 'Can you hear me OK?'. And I need to drink plenty of water to ease my throat!


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 09 May 18 - 03:28 AM

Oops, I forgot to sign in. The Guest waffling on about singing without a PA is I, Gordon :-/


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 May 18 - 05:54 AM

A stage performance is an entirely different situation, and there I agree PA may be necessary where the venue dictates. This includes morris perfomances to a large audience in a large venue, when PA may be entirely appropriate. However in a small venue performers should be able to manage without PA.

Using PA for morris in the street or pub car park should be entirely unnecessary. Ironically it seems this is brought about by the fashion for ever-larger bands, which then feel the need to mic up in order to bring up the quieter instruments.   Morris sides used to manage very well with just a single fiddle, concertina or melodeon, so I question the need for it in most situations. It is then compounded at massed morris events, as sides don't want their own music to be drowned out. It is a retrograde and to me unwelcome development.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: banjoman
Date: 09 May 18 - 07:27 AM

I agree that too many sides rely on drums and drown out other instruments. However, that can easily be rectified without resorting to PA. I used to accompany a North West side on five string banjo and was often the only musician there. I could play pretty loud in those days.
I also enjoyed Sweeps but was somewhat restricted in what I could see because of car problem. Thanks RAC. Bit disappointed by the lower than usual numbers in the Good Intent.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 May 18 - 10:24 AM

When researching the history of music in Edinburgh I came across a remarkable non-coincidence. The centre of the Old Town was pedestrian-only until 1760 - it was up a steep hill you could only get to by narrow lanes which fed through a fortified gate, the Nether Bow. And until 1760, the city employed a reed band (the Town Waits) to play from a tower right in the middle of town.

In 1760 they demolished the Nether Bow and opened the centre to wheeled traffic for the first time. That was the last year we have any record of the Waits being paid to play. Cartwheels and hooves on stone setts will have drowned them out.

And you wouldn't even hear those cart sounds now for the engine noise in the city centre. Cars have changed everything.


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: RTim
Date: 09 May 18 - 10:37 AM

Ideally - Morris, at least Cotswold Morris, should be performed to a single musician and in the "old days" this was with Pipe & Tabor.
In most environments - the shrill sound of the Pipe is heard over most noises, and the Tabor (drum) also provides a good low sounding beat.
A very good alternative is a Fiddle played with Double Stops (ie. more that one string at a time). Of course the advent of modern Melodeons - eg. Castagnaris, etc.. mean they are much louder than the old Hohner Pockerworks, etc..

I am used to Morris being performed in Oxfordshire villages, and that can make a difference..
I stress that this is only my opinion - but I did dance from age 9 to 62 years...
and still watch a lot of dancing!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 09 May 18 - 11:37 AM

Traditions, like people, are either living or dead.

An example of a dead tradition, I would say, is the early music movement. Here, songs and tunes are considered as museum pieces, and the overall aim is to perform them as they were in those early days. I really like that. I think pipe and tabor for morris falls somewhat into that category. I like to hear P&T played well (hate it played badly!). But P&T is pretty rare these days, and would struggle to be heard unless it's played solo (or nearly so) and to a small gathering. That is, more or less as it was before the advent of free reed instruments.

The folk scene, for want of a better descriptor, is a live tradition. It changes over time - evolves - making the occasional retrograde step, sure, although natural selection usually sorts those out. I'm sure everyone here is well aware that songs were usually sung unaccompanied and tunes usually played by a soloist. New songs, tunes, instruments and styles enter the tradition and are welcomed and assimilated or they are not.

There are morris sides that seek to maintain the old ways and are resistant to change. I've no problem with that at all. There are also sides that would be pretty much unrecognizable to a time travelling morris dancer from a couple of hundred years ago: big Goth boots, acrobatics, lots of drums and small amps or full PAs et al.

I don't like all new developments - not by a long way - but I think the scene is big enough (in all senses) to accept them.

Gordon


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Subject: RE: PA and morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 May 18 - 06:32 PM

I've no problem with change. Folk traditions, including morris, have always been influenced by current fashions and that's how they evolve. However morris mostly takes place in the street or a pub car park, and in those situations a solo instrument, let alone a band, should be perfectly audible. Also, it's very difficult to get a good sound from PA out of doors, especially with a small portable set-up. The natural acoustic sound is usually preferable.


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