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Playing in Loud Environments
Need some advice.
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gwscheer
Pullman,WA, USA
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October 2, 2014 - 3:24 pm
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In my little jazz/blues eclectic trio I have no problem hearing my violin and the vocals and bass, and making it all work together.  In my 7 piece oldies rock and roll band though, especially due to the drums, the volume level gets pretty high. I have a Rolls PM351 that I run my own monitor amp through so i can adjust the level of the monitor mix and my own instrument with that (So I can get "More Me" in my own monitor with a twist of a dial).

Doing the Doobie brothers "Black Water" in a loud practice session it all sounds pretty good to me during the rehearsal, but...  I recorded the session with a multi-track recorder from of the mixer insert channels, and I have a lot of intonation errors on the viola part.  Even though it sounded much better to me live.  I can play back the balance of the band at low volume and play along with that, and the intonation is better (but not perfect;  i'm no Novi Novog). 

Do any of you have experience or advice playing in loud orchestral or band environments? Maybe their is just a volume threshold where my pitch perception is overloaded so i will need to go to a lower volume in ear monitor, even though those have their own issues.   (By the way, this is one of the reasons Mark Wood says he made fretted Viper violins, so that the violin player could have good intonation even if the on-stage sound level was too high, but I would rather continue with a fretless/traditional violin.   Thanks.  gws

"Make every note beautiful", Ivan Galamian

“To play a wrong note is INSIGNIFICANT; To play without PASSION is INEXCUSABLE!” , Ludvig Van Beethovan

"It ain't rocket surgery"

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gwscheer
Pullman,WA, USA
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October 2, 2014 - 3:30 pm
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or, maybe i just need to learn it well enough on my own that I don't depend so much on hearing it to make sure the pitch is right?  gws

"Make every note beautiful", Ivan Galamian

“To play a wrong note is INSIGNIFICANT; To play without PASSION is INEXCUSABLE!” , Ludvig Van Beethovan

"It ain't rocket surgery"

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DanielB
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October 2, 2014 - 5:26 pm
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Even if it was possible to learn it well enough to play it without being able to hear how you sound in the mix, I didn't think it would be desirable.  It would take some enjoyment out of playing and lose some of the point of playing live.

Your hearing may be getting "swamped" by the volume level though.  You might try some of the special earplugs they make for musicians.  I used to use those when I played with some really loud bands or had to stand way too close to the drummer's cymbals.  They did help. 

I don't think they make the exact ones I used to use anymore.  But "impact noise reducers" look to be very similar.  Not much like regular earplugs, they let air through so your ear doesn't sound "stuffed up", but there's a diaphragm and weight that take up some of the energy of loud sound pulses before they get to your eardrum.  Crazy sounding stuff, but the principle does work.

I do have to tell ya though, they do make some things sound a bit different, so if you use that kind of protection or go to an in-ear type monitor, you'll want to practice with it when playing by yourself at least some of the time, so the difference in how things sound doesn't throw you off too much.

Anyway, maybe something to try. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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gwscheer
Pullman,WA, USA
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October 3, 2014 - 1:57 pm
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Thanks, @DanielB, I have a few times in the past performed with a guitar wearing closed headphones in loud environements, before we got a separate soundman and I was mixing from the stage and listening to front of house in the 'phones. So I don't mind that iI look geeky perfromng in them .  I've never had an in-ear bud that was comfortable for very long.  I think I'll try these closed headphones on Black Water and see if that works before I invest in anything else.   It is counter-intuitive to think about hearing better by using earplugs, but you are right, that is probably what I will try if the headphones don't cut it. Agaiin, thanks for the response.  gws 

"Make every note beautiful", Ivan Galamian

“To play a wrong note is INSIGNIFICANT; To play without PASSION is INEXCUSABLE!” , Ludvig Van Beethovan

"It ain't rocket surgery"

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Crazymotive
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October 5, 2014 - 5:02 pm
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Well, as a player in a classical symphony orchestra one of the critical issues is not playing loud but playing soft. One of the biggest criticisms from put conductor is that too often the violins are playing too loud in passages marked p, pp, or ppp (i.e. piano, pianisimo...). which come u[p very often in classical music. As a result I find myself playing those passages bowing tosto "over the fingerboard" with very light bow pressure.  of course when you hit a section marked f, ff (forte, fortissimo) you can dig in hard with the bow and play loud.

When you're competing with amplified instruments or drums in other genres i. jazz, rock, etc. I guess it can become more of an issue as you described.Since I haven't played in those circumstances I can't really offer much advice. Having a low level monitor so you can better hear your own instrument sounds like it might help. If you come up with any good solutions please keep us posted. 

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coolpinkone
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October 5, 2014 - 9:57 pm
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CrazyM.. thank you for this post.  I appreciate it.  I always wonder about the piano/pianisimo..I am gathering  that when  you are playing in the group..  the one that is not going low enough can tell..or do the conductor usually point it to the group.. or single out the loud violin.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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