Working with Another Engineer
Creating Great Sound Together
Handling amplified Celtic harp music is an area of specialization
in its self. It is an ability you can nurture and grow one
step at a time just as your harp playing abilities grow. I
am going to throw out a few thoughts that might provide some
answers for you.
When you listened to other
performers did their instruments and voices sound natural?
Boomy? Hard to hear the words? Too loud? You lose the ability
to hear harmonics when it is too loud. Outdoor amplification
is very horsepower intensive and good sounding horsepower
(wattage) costs a lot of money. It often takes a lot of years
and complaints before a promoter brings in a professional
quality PA rather than the low cost cowboy with the muddy,
boomy, clipped and over compressed sound. The harp with its
wide dynamic range suffers badly in these lower cost circumstances.
Using a pickup on a large stage
is second best to using a good microphone. If you are
serious about doing stage work get an AT4041 condenser
microphone on eBay from one of the resellers (IE JD
Sound). This is the last harp mic you need buy. Your
sound quality will rise 300% and the engineer has to
do less to make it sound well. Get a 1.5' high mic stand
(less obtrusive) to go with it and place it close to
the soundboard 1/3 up from the bottom.
Get someone (spouse) who knows
your sound to advise the engineer in situ as to what sounds
good. IE make sure the reverb is turned down to you just can/cannot
hear it. Too many engineers pull a "Loreena" on
you. During the sound check pluck each string in succession
at a higher PA volume to listen for "too loud" strings.
This will help the engineer EQ you for a fuller and a wider
dynamic range. No compression please.
Do not use foldback,
moniters, stage sound unless you absolutely have to.
Your Celtic harp is at your ear, that is usually loud
enough. That will cleanup the sound to the audience
100% - gets rid of a lot of the muddiness in the sound.
In outdoor venues, have the engineer use "chorus"
instead of reverb - that thickens the sound and brings
back the Celtic harp's fullness. Lastly, I will say
this with hopefully some grace. The harp is an intimate
instrument. It does best when people feel "connected"
to it. Large outdoor stages simply dwarf the harp and
the connection is triply difficult to make.
As a solo Celtic harpist, Alison
no longer plays the huge outdoor venues with a 500-1000
people as the intimate impact/connection is just not
there. We know who are the good PA providers in our
area and that makes a big difference in our decision
making regarding working medium and small outdoor stages.
Usually the large outdoor events
pay little and the decision is based on exposure. Bad exposure
travels just as fast as good, so we are fussy about her sound
in these venues. A good workable amplification kit for a harpist
Limo amp - Read more
LR Baggs Para
Above for small gigs
Below for bigger gigs
where a system is provided
low mic stand
Buy the expensive cabling
as the cheap stuff fails you when you need it the most.
Learn more about system capacities at the Gig
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