DIY Music: More Musical Sawbservations: Two Shows, Two Saw Sounds, One Night.

Last week I played two very different saw shows in the same night and it led to some interesting sawbservations.

The first show was with Calamity Royale at one of Toronto’s most magical music venues, The Music Gallery. It’s actually a working church that can be booked for shows and it’s really quite stunning. We played with the amazing Willow Rutherford and Montreal’s Music for Money (whose lead singer is actually a human drum machine and it’s mind-blowing).

Anyway, our band consisted of a cello, double bass, horns, Calamity on piano and my saw. Without drums, and with the obvious acoustics in the church, we just used a condenser instrument microphone clipped onto the saw — which should have been completely enough. However, I learned that as much as a saw sound is meant to carry in a space (which is why it doesn’t work well with contact mics… you to pick up the sound from the air and not just the vibrations of the object) it still could have used the duo setup with vocal mic. Some people mentioned it was a bit quiet.

Then, I rushed to The Tranzac for a late-night set with The Lipliners, which is where I usually have the hardest time amping the saw. The Lipliners is basically a mini-orchestra with tons of people on stage and lots of loud instruments in a small room.

As I’ve mentioned before, amplifying the musical saw in a large/loud band setting is a real challenge because: Having to crank the sensitivity of the mic(s) allows for a lot of bleed-in from louder and neighbouring instruments, especially the drums (sit behind the drums if you can) and, it’s always a challenge to hear yourself in the monitors.

But, The Lipliners’ super sound man Colin had an idea for the second set. He suggested we plug the clup-on mic directly into a bass amp (still no vocal mic) and then he sacrificed a good chunk of the sound in the monitor for room sound. (It’s also important to note that just because your band can’t hear you, it doesn’t mean the crowd can’t hear you. Get the sound man or a friend to go back and give you a subtle hand signal if you’re getting self-conscious.)

The result was wicked. The saw could REALLY be heard, so much so that I actually got a bit self-conscious and started worrying about overplaying or being obnoxious (mostly because knowing I was missing a lot of monitor sound made me have to be extra careful with how loud I was giving ‘er.) But, everyone commented that it sounded awesome and Ronley said she could finally actually hear it.

So, who would have thought — surprised by a night of sawbservations again! I love this instrument. It definitely keeps you on your toes!!


~ by hooksandladders on September 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “DIY Music: More Musical Sawbservations: Two Shows, Two Saw Sounds, One Night.”

  1. Try placing the end of the saw on some sort of resonator like a wood box with a hole in the front. ( I guess you would have to sit on the wood box ?) This should amplify the sound acousticaly so it can be picked up better by a microphone.

  2. […] is a very interesting article on various attempts to amplify a saw: […]

  3. […] is a very interesting article on various attempts to amplify a saw: […]

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