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Ecstatic Waters (wind ensemble + electronics)

Technical Info

If you’d like the following information in PDF form, you may download it here: Ecstatic Waters SETUP and TECH info (Feb 2017).

The electronic material (Ableton Live set) is delivered via email after the music is rented. The pre-recorded material is triggered live on a laptop or desktop computer. A solo clarinet is amplified and run through live effects on the same computer. Ableton Live is used for all triggering and processing – you may use the free demo version for rehearsal and performance (no need to purchase the software). More detailed technical requirements and other information concerning the electronics for this work can be found in the PDF perusal score available on this page.

 

NOTE: The Ableton Live “Set” (the actual set of files you use in performance) is sent to you in an email when payment is received for the rental.

HOW-TO VIDEOS

ECSTATIC WATERS (version 1.2)

TECHNICAL INSTRUCTIONS AND TIPS

July 2011

QUESTIONS: contact me

 

REHEARSAL AND PERFORMANCE

Triggering the Cues:

In Ableton Live, you can (and should) simply press keys on the keyboard to trigger each cue, instead of using the mouse to click on the Scene arrows.  I’ve pre-assigned the numbers across the top of the keyboard to correspond with each cue number (i.e. 1 is CUE 1 in the score, 2 is CUE 2, etc.).  NOTE: 0 = CUE 10, q = CUE 11, w = CUE 12.

Here’s a list of each cue, and exactly where it starts (i.e. when to press the corresponding trigger). Unless otherwise noted, the cue begins on the downbeat of the bar.

RESET EVERYTHING: “l” (letter L) – use this anytime you stop in the middle of rehearsal, and at the beginning of every performance.

CLICK TRACK TEST – there is no letter assigned to this cue – simple click on the arrow next to the words. This is for use just before the performance so the conductor can be assured the click track and earpiece is functioning correctly. Press the RESET (above) after you do this test in performance.

CUE 1: m. 204 – press “1”

CUE 2: m. 255 – “2”

CUE 3: m. 302 – “3”

CUE 4: m. 332 – “4”

CUE A (activate Clar. mic): m. 395 (beginning of Mvt. IV, just a fraction of a second before the solo Clar. begins to play) – press “a”

CUE 5: m. 438 – “5”

CUE 6: m. 491, BEAT 3 – “6”

CUE 7: m. 494, BEAT 3 – “7”

CUE 8: m. 497, BEAT 3 – “8”

CUE 9: m. 508, BEAT 3 – “9”

CUE 10: m. 510, BEAT 3 – “0”  (zero)

CUE 11: m. 513, BEAT 3 – “q”

CUE 12: m. 517, BEAT 3 (this is the final chord) – “w”

In rehearsal, the conductor can start at any rehearsal mark in the score. The Live set has extra cues at each of these points, labeled with the measure number. I’ve pre-assigned trigger keys (letters on the keyboard) to some of these spots, though you are welcome to change them to whatever you wish, or simply use the mouse to click those.

IF YOU STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF ANY CUE DURING REHEARSAL, PRESS “L” TO RESET EVERYTHING BEFORE CONTINUING.

NOTE: If you use the mouse / trackpad to click cues, you MUST click in the right column (“Master“) ONLY. If you click on any of the other columns, only that track will activate, and the other tracks will not be audible (such as the click track).

Here’s what the Live set will look like when you open it (except without the big red messages):

Levels:

Depending on the hall, the master output level to the house will need to be adjusted at certain points. The overall goal is to maintain a seamless blend of the electronics and wind ensemble.  In particular, the levels will need to be brought down a considerable amount for CUE 1 (Mvt. II) and CUES 6-12 (Mvt. V).

The Clarinet mic is automatically controlled by the Live set, so there should be no need to mute or unmute it during performance.

SETUP:

Macintosh Any modern Macintosh will work. Check the available interface ports (USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt) and make sure they correspond to your interface, and that you have the appropriate cable!

Audio Interface (I use a MOTU Ultralite): I recommend and use MOTU interfaces. It needs 1 channel input (Clarinet), and 3 output channels (Left, Right, Click).

In-ear monitor: for conductor. If this has two earphones, make sure the unused side is taped up and muffled in some fashion, otherwise the audience will be able to hear the click in the soft sections.

Mixer: I recommend the sound output from the audio interface is routed through the mixer into the PA system, so that levels can be controlled from there instead of directly in the laptop.

Extra Equipment:

1) Small table that can fit over the seats in the audience – wide enough to hold score, laptop, and interface

2) Stand light(s)

3) Power strip(s)

4) A QUIET score – one that you can turn the pages without making much noise. Comb binding is usually too loud, especially in Mvt. V.

Ableton Live:

Note, the demo version of Live will run for 14 days, after which saving will be disabled. There’s no need for you to save the file, so you can use this version beyond the 14 day limit. The Demo version works perfectly fine in performance, so there’s no need to purchase the software. If you do not own or plan to purchase Live, I suggest you set up the audio interface and channels how you plan to use them in performance, and save it during the Demo period. Otherwise, you will have to reset the interface settings and channels each time you run the program before rehearsal or performance.

Depending on the interface you use (such as MOTU Ultralite, MOTU 828, M-AUDIO 410, etc.), you will need to set Live to use that particular device to send and receive audio. Do this in the Live Preferences window. Choose Audio, and you’ll see this: 

Plugin Installation:

Install the included Buffer Override plugin. This is one of the effects on the Clarinet channel. You will need to open Live’s Preferences window, and turn on “Use Audio Units” (see screenshot below):

 

 

 

Mixer / Laptop Placement:

It’s usually best to have three (or at least 2) people sitting side-by-side in the middle of the audience with the mixer, laptop, and score. If the mixer and table won’t fit in the middle, the setup can work off to one side. In my experience, it’s best to have 1 person running the sound, 1 person triggering the cues on the laptop, and 1 person following the score as an assistant to the trigger person. I often trigger the cues and adjust the mixer levels myself in performance, as long as I have someone following the score next to me so I don’t have to worry about precisely where in the music we are.

Speaker Placement:

Do NOT use the house system, unless the speakers happen to be very close to the ensemble. In my experience, most house speakers are either embedded far to the sides of the stage, or high above it. The speakers must be as close to the sides of the ensemble as possible. There should be no audible, physical separation between electronics and the band. Depending on the hall, the speakers can be placed behind the ensemble (i.e. the back corners of the stage, but not too far from the group). I’ve found that the best placement varies GREATLY from hall to hall, and I strongly suggest you budget a little rehearsal time in the hall to allow for moving the speakers to different positions for comparison. The overriding goal is to seamlessly mix the band and electronics – use your ears to find the best mesh and blend.

Subwoofer:

The subwoofer is NOT optional. In previous performances, we’ve used two subs with the monitors stacked on top of them, though of course a single sub somewhere to the side or behind the band also works.

The Live set contains a third mono channel that is to be fed to the subwoofer(s). Depending on the hall and speakers used (what the crossover frequency is), you may either want strict signal separation (Stereo mix ONLY to mains, Sub channel ONLY to subs), but it’s ok for the Main stereo mix to crossover to the subs naturally. Experiment and see which produces a clearer and more satisfying sound.

In-ear monitor for the conductor:

An in-ear monitor for the conductor is required. It may be wireless or wired – whichever you prefer. There are two channels in the Live set that feed this – the click track (which consists ONLY of clicks), and a voice track that speaks selected measure numbers (usually the rehearsal numbers in the score). This is ALL the conductor will have in his/her monitor – none of the electronics sounds the audience hears will be audible in the conductor’s earpiece. If this has two earphones, make sure the unused side is taped up and muffled in some fashion, otherwise the audience will be able to hear the click in the soft sections.

Clarinet Mic routing

Use a very directional mic to block out surrounding sounds, and place as close to the middle/upper barrel of the clarinet as is comfortable for the player. The part only consists of high-register material, so there’s no need to try and capture the lower frequencies – this is NOT about capturing the beautiful, full tone of the Clarinet. The resulting effect will be random, stuttering, bubbling bursts of sound. It is NOT continuous, and should act as a subtle “decoration” of the acoustic solo. Sort of a less predictable delay/reverb.

NO dry Clar. signal should pass through to the house – ONLY the bubbling effect should be heard in the monitors.

This effect begins at the beginning of Mvt. IV with Cue A (which simply unmutes the Clar. mic), and stays active throughout most of the remainder of the piece. The mic level and muting is controlled automatically from that point onward, and will be automatically muted at the end of the piece.

Note: previous versions of the piece used microphones on the Bassoons. This is no longer the case – please disregard any information about that from older scores.

Backup system:

In performance, I always keep a second laptop and audio interface booted and wired into the mixer as a backup. I STRONGLY encourage you to do this. That way, if something happens in performance, you can quickly switch to the other laptop for the next cue. If I am in attendance at the performance, I will require this. I usually bring my own laptop and interface, which can be used as the backup system if necessary.