As covid restrictions continue to ease, we can begin to return to a far more normal band layout as you may have noticed. This brings with it a couple of challenges; having been physically separated for so long our sound tends to become more open, you hear yourself more and tend to identify your parts far more easily than you can whilst playing in a tighter group, this has both advantages and disadvantages, the advantage being you can focus on your own part and with little direction balance easily with the rest of the band, however this also proves to be a disadvantage when we start playing together in a tighter ensemble format. Sounds get lost, and the layers of harmony become muddy as we struggle to identify our individual sound . The simplest remedy for this is to back off volume wise….. yet with spacing we have done the opposite and actually increased our volumes to be level with those seated further away! It’s an interesting challenge now to maintain the high quality sounds we have developed yet create the spatial gap we need for harmony to come through. Again backing off the volume in your individual part will help us build that sound in this new domain. All you need to do is to drop each dynamic one step (e.g. F becomes mF) and see what happens. This is certainly not a criticism but a new stage of development which will see us improve yet again.
The other thing to be aware of has always been a challenge to community banding, and that is that from week to week we may have different numbers or players in each section which means that balances change constantly, be aware of these changes and listen for them as well as listening to the first players in the chair and emulating their style and articulation ( they may be wrong but if we are all wrong together no one knows!)
Specifically looking at Phantom, key changes should not be a stumbling block for us at this stage yet often we make our lives harder by forgetting them and then wondering why it sound weird! Mark them…highlight them…. do whatever you need to do to not miss them.
I had the opportunity to stand out front and listen to the band last night and I will say it’s impressive in its sound and the capabilities that were being demonstrated during the section I listened to, with a little attention to detail, this will sound even better and I think we should be aiming to record ourselves in the near future so you may enjoy it as well, thank you for all your efforts