"Sound and Celtic Harp" Solo Gigs
Can I go it alone?
I go it alone?
There is a simple answer - yes and no.
Love technology - you really must want and like to do
Are patient - willingness to learn your craft is a must
Do not fall apart when everyone knows you made a mistake
- squeaks and squeals are inevitable
Are good at coaxing/ coaching complete strangers to
help - Is it loud enough? Too loud?
Have a soft gig where you use the sound system minimally
- less adjustment necessary
Small gigs, yes - big gigs, no - critically important
gigs, no no!
No if you:
Are afraid of technology - technophobes line
Results oriented rather than process oriented - frustration
is your enemy
Become needy under pressure - self reliance versus loss
Rather not bother people - you do need help for it too
Have an underpowered system for the gig size - very
Any kind of difficult venue - harpists seem to find
these more than most musicians
Small solo background
gigs with amps can work if you are well practiced. Doing
concerts is a whole level of skill upwards. Doing sound
for group gigs from the stage should NOT be done by
the harpist. Mobility to listen is important to set
Remember that Celtic harps are incredibly feedback friendly
as they are natural microphones. The harpist needs to
finger-walk-the-strings one at a time listening for
any pluck that is extra loud. The harpist then needs
some form of equalizer/notching device to reduce that
offending frequency. This device needs to be right at
hand. The volume control needs to be right at hand too.
The amplifier needs to be quite far away from the Celtic
harp to avoid feedback. Hence you need some form of
control device separate from the amp. You need to repeat
the finger-walk as you increase volumes. An experienced
harpist will hear the offending loud strings during
play before they create feedback and will be in constant
minor adjustment mode as the evening progresses and
the dynamic of the room changes.
with a Co-pilot
Life is a lot easier with a sound engineer/helper/roadie
onboard. It is a team approach. The more common cause
of harpist injury is not from the play itself but rather
from the damage occurring when putting tired muscles
to a new use. For example: lifting a suddenly heavy
Celtic harp or amp at the gig's end. Sound gear is heavy.
Cheap sound gear sometimes unbelievably so.
Finding a helper/partner
and nurturing their interest in sound is a must if you
are going to use amplification regularly. Using sound
turns the one hour ceremony gig into the reception afterwards
too where you can double or triple your money. Sound
systems extend the size, range and length of gigs available
to you. Sound makes gigging a professional possibility.
I will add your knowledge and experience to the “mix”
if it can add to the effectiveness of these articles.
The rest of the Celtic Harp Amplification Series is