the desired results. Here are some good starting points: • Vertical Placement should be approximately 18”-28”for condenser microphones or slightly closer for dynamic microphones

• Horizontal placement depends on the playing areas for each performer; vibraphone mics can go in the center. For marimbas, you can divide the instrument into thirds and place a microphone on each dividing point.

Cabling: Cable maintenance is an impor-

tant part of effective sound reinforce- ment and is often over-looked. Keeping a clean and organized space allows for faster setup/tear down, quicker trouble- shooting, longer cable life, and will help maintain a safe environment for your performers.

Daisy Chaining: This is a method where keyboards plug in to one another until reaching the desired plug-in point (usually, a snake) and is often used in setups where keyboards are relatively close to each other. It requires a bit more extensive preparation and initial setup as well as requiring many cables to be zip-tied to each keyboard, but is the cleanest and fastest on-the-field setup. Troubleshoot- ing can be difficult at times; but if done correctly, can greatly extend the life of your cables. Another option is to run a cable from each microphone to the desired plugin point -this can get very messy very quickly. This is a much more budget friendly route, but may end up costing more in the long run as you re- place broken cables and risk the safety of your performers.

Synthesizers: Modern synthesizers come with a myriad of built-in sounds that can help create depth of sound for your program. If your marching band music is pre-

MAY 2017

made, then chances are it comes with some kind of synthesizer staff that should fit most programs, but sometimes does not. When those sounds don’t seem to work for your show, adaptability is key. To give your program a feeling of being “larger than life”, you can use the synths to reinforce the low end of the frequen- cy spectrum. Strings, choirs, and synth pads are great options to enhance your low end. You can also use the synths to reinforce mid-range sounds that may be getting lost because of drill. For in- stance, a mellophone counter-melody coming from far backfield may be dou- bled by a synth voice. Again, strings and choirs are helpful sounds here; however, it’s important to keep articulation and style in mind. The right sound should blend attack and decay with the sound it is reinforcing. Strings and choir sounds are popu- lar choices for reinforcing wind sounds, but don’t forget how guitar, harp, or even 80’s sawtooth sounds can enhance percussion-only moments. Most mod- ern synthesizers have the ability to stack sounds on top of one another and split the keyboard in half. For instance, it’s possible to program the synth where every note below Middle C produces a Bass Guitar sound while every note above produces a Harp sound. To most effectively utilize your

synth performers, make sure to use both a Sustain pedal and an Expression pedal. The Expression pedal will allow the synth performer to control their dy- namics hands-free. When your front en- semble is rushing onto the field, it’s also important to consider boot-up time. Quick-Tip: you can start up your synth off the field with a UPS battery pack, then plug in when you get to the field. Recommended Synthesizers:

• Yamaha MOTIF series (XF7, XF8) • Yamaha Montage series (Montage 6, Montage 7, Montage 8)

• Korg M3 • Roland Juno-G


More Modern Sounds - Sam-

pling: Many groups are relying heavily on sound samples, which range from voice narration to bass drops and elec- tronic sound effects. Whether you’ve hired someone to create these sounds for you or are doing them on your own, one thing is for certain: you’re going to need a device to trigger them. Many programs rely on the Yamaha DTX MULTI12 which features 12 trigger pads on one machine with 64 megabytes of WAVE memory to add samples. Since the method of playing these pads is usu- ally striking with a drum stick - this is very friendly for front ensemble mem- bers. Another popular choice is the Ro- land SP-404SX which features 12 touch pads and up to 32 gigabytes of expand- able memory. The method of triggering on the SP-404SX is by finger buttons, which is friendly for synth players. Rec- ommended Sampling machines: • Yamaha DTX MULTI12 (Drum pad triggers, easy to use, limited memory)

• Roland SP-404SX (Finger button triggers, more complicated, expandable memory)

Mixing: Most of the competitive programs in the activity have switched to Digi- tal mixers from their Analog predeces- sors. Digital mixers allow for advanced grouping options, enhanced process- ing power, remote iPad mixing, and so much more. Since most people are us- ing digital mixers, let’s focus on a few of the more frequently used features of digital mixers.

Scenes: With many digital mixers, you have ability to set levels for a certain portion of your production, then save those lev- els as a “scene.” Many mixers will have available space for up to 100 scenes; this makes it much easier to create consis-

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