Carnegie Hall

Every once in a while I go see something at Carnegie Hall. I love Carnegie Hall.

Not only is it visually lovely and perfectly proportioned the way a concert hall should be, but it has legendarily good acoustics. The sound from a trained singer or instrumentalist up on that stage can travel beautifully around the entire space, reaching the ears of all listeners.

Which is why I took special notice of the microphones up on stage today. They were used by people introducing the music, and that makes sense. After all, those people were just talking.

But they were also used to amplify the voices of the soloists, trained vocalists with magnificent and powerful voices. And that got me scratching my head.

Have we become so acclimated to a world where music is electronically amplified, that we can no longer listen to any other kind? Would modern audiences reject an unamplified operatic solo, in all of its naked glory, as somehow not sounding quite right?

I have nephews who would never think of watching an old black and white movie. After all, everybody knows that movies are supposed to be in color. Which means my nephews will never see Citizen Kane, Metropolis or The Seven Samurai, The Maltese Falcon or The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

Is unamplified music arriving at the same sad place?

4 Responses to “Carnegie Hall”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    This is like the Kodachrome effect: People disappointed with natural wonders in real life because they don’t have the hyper-satuated colors of the photos they’ve seen beforehand.

  2. Manu says:

    To be fair, there are different singing techniques, some deliberately developed for the sound to travel far, and others to sound well if put through a microphone.

  3. admin says:

    Yes, absolutely. Nobody would have expected Frank Sinatra to sing unmiked at Carnegie Hall. If this were a pop music concert I wouldn’t have said anything. But it happens that there were strong operatic singers being miked, and I found that disheartening.

  4. Ken Chapin says:

    The male acapella group we started in college back in the 80’s has evolved from minimal standing mic’s back then to everyone having their own wireless mic today. I personally prefer minimal amplification but today’s sound is much more studio driven.

Leave a Reply