Monday, February 20, 2017

"Not-This-Task" ism

So now I want to work on holocrons. Now that this day is being taken up with prep for the next show I'm working.

We go into tech Tuesday morn. The company has practically nothing, so I'm bringing most of the sound system with me. A pair of Yahama powered speakers for front-of-house, with stands (and adaptors). A pair of small but powerful powered monitors as foldback speakers. I'm using the company snake and mixer, which is a low-mid 16-channel (which is to say, eight actual mic level inputs, then shared faders for all the inputs above that).

The company has six body packs, and I'm bringing seven. The cast numbers fourteen, but because of the above limitations of the board it is tough to control more than twelve channels. One day I'll get a better board for gigs like this (it would probably be software based, with a DAW structure and an iPad control surface. After that lottery win.)

So I need a short snake and a bunch of XLR/TRS adaptors to plug the mics in. And because of the limitation of channels, I may have to use the "direct in" many boards have, which usually shows up as a pair of RCA connectors. I don't want to try to resurrect any of my old laptops so I'll bring my primary machine to each and every show. Which has a broken audio jack so another interface needed there.

I also need a work light since it is usually dark during the show, and a script stand and script light. And since there's a paucity of cable in the crates we already loaded up into the show van, I need to bring sufficient XLR and AC "stingers" (aka extension cords) to run all my various powered speakers. I already purchased and packed up condoms, batteries, and surgical tape for the microphones -- and if we are very lucky, this time the company will remember to bring the belt pouches with them.

This company (like many) finds it impossible to grasp the concept of tech, or even that the very first load-in of a show will take longer than the typical load-in of the tour. They've given me an hour. So be it. But that's why I have to check all of the gear and try to pack the correct parts and adaptors. Because there's no slack in the schedule for any but the quickest (and dirtiest) improvisations.

Heck, they haven't even given me the backing tracks yet. So I'll have to program QLab during that same hour.

All in all, it should be no surprise that I'd prefer to work on holocrons (despite having spent the previous week shirking that work). Heck, I'm even attracted to doing more practice on my violin right now, instead of digging through boxes of random sound cables.

I made and posted my "four month progress" video yesterday. You know, the tone is really bad. I'm sure at least half of that is the fact that my articulation still sucks. I still am not cleanly getting into and out of notes, especially around string crossings and shifts. I'm grazing strings a lot during string crossings as well. Each time I practice, about half of it is pure technical exercises designed to tighten up these problems (and others), and half of the remainder is going over and over problem areas in the few songs I've learned so far, trying to find solutions to the technical issues.

But I'm hoping some of this poor tone is because for these progress videos I'm using the violin un-amplified. An electric violin lacks the sound board and hollow body of a "real" violin -- which is why they are quiet enough to practice in an apartment -- so you are hearing as much of the mechanical noises of scratching a bow across the strings as you are the tone coming off those strings. And that, is getting picked up by the built-in mic on the laptop, which is contoured towards voice. 

At least I think this is what's happening. I've listened on headphones a few times, but I have to turn up the volume further than I am comfortable with to cover up the natural sound of the machine. I need to record it and listen to that. 

Maybe I will -- after I've figured out how to do vibrato (I've been practicing Katyusha lately, and it just doesn't work without vibrato, so sometimes I lock down the shoulder rest and do my best attempt at hand vibrato on it. Which means everything else goes to heck but, yet, it does seem to be a better sound.)

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