Balancing the Electric Sounds

February 1, 2018

The use of “electrics” are an added color for those groups that have made that choice. It is of prime importance that the electrics are always in balance with the wind instruments on the floor. This has been a problem in many performances this season and sometimes a serious distraction to the level of musical achievement.

This is a real challenge especially in light of the fact that every indoor venue is totally different. There is NO way to set levels and equalization at your rehearsal and expect it to work in a different venue.

The ONLY WAY to solve this dilemma is to utilize a staff member in the reserved Sound Engineer seating area which is always in close proximity to the judge area in the stands. The WGI Winds Manual explains what is allowed on page 39, Rule 4.2.2.

4.2.2 Winds groups may manipulate their soundboard by using a remote-controlled wireless device through a self-supplied wireless network. WGI will provide an area in or near the upstairs judging area for one designated staff member to adjust the mix using wireless technology. The soundboard must remain in the competition area.

I am giving a clarification and expansion of how this rule is interpreted to enable all groups to achieve an improved musical outcome:

A staff member may use a cell phone, 2 way radio or similar wireless device to communicate with a performer on the floor who is operating the sound mix and volumes of the electrics. The staff member must keep his/her speaking volume to a minimum so as to not distract the audience or judges. The staff member must be in the area designated by WGI.

The use of a wireless soundboard tablet application controlling the volumes of the electric instruments remotely is the best solution but may be out of the reach of some groups financially or technically. That is why there is a need for this interpretation.

Rule 8.4 is still in place which includes conducting or gestures: During a performance, adult or non-performing student personnel may not coach, cue, etc., any performers or control any wireless lighting events outside the competition area.

This interpretation is in effect as of March 8, 2016. This should allow time to utilize this setup at rehearsals.

I strongly encourage all winds groups using electrics to take this opportunity to achieve the maximum potential of your musical program.