KEYWORDS: mike, music, background, words, singer, song

Pass the Mike Please

David Berg

—Meaning with Music!—By Father DavidDFO 9783/81Comp

(Complied by James 3/81 from tapes of advice to MWM, Keda, Paul & Marianne & others.)

1. PLEASE FOLKS, IF YOU ARE THE MC OR THE INTERVIEWER or the being-interviewed, the commentator, singer or actor, if you're the one that's talking, be sure you have the microphone & that it's not just stuck on the front of the camera or laid on a table somewhere or held by somebody else. The speaker must have the microphone, please! No matter how much trouble it takes to do it & hand it around or whatever you have to do, be sure the speaker has the mike, please! We like to hear what they have to say.

2. WE KNOW YOU CAN THINK OF A LOT OF THINGS TO SAY & all of a sudden while they're talking you think of something you want to say & you want to grab the mike back again. But try to make a note of them in your mind or even on a piece of paper on your lap or something & wait till they finish talking before you grab the mike back.

3. BE SURE TO HAVE THE MIKE WHEN YOU ARE TALKING & hold it close enough to your mouth so that we can hear you clearly, & don't have it sitting far away on a table somewhere or on the camera where you're all distant & far away & all kinds of other noise comes in. Whoever's talking should have the mike, or you should hold it up to their mouth for them, one or the other.

4. IF YOU'RE NOT GETTING THAT VIDEO MIKE RIGHT TO HIS MOUTH, WE'RE MISSING HALF OF IT. You've got to be a little more conscious of your sound on these videos‚ the picture's not everything. We want to hear'm! It's really a shame on some video tapes that you didn't hand the speakers the mike‚ because they're speaking so softly & so low that we hear mostly the crickets in the background & the roar of the background noise of our own TV & the tape, because you didn't get their mouths close enough to the mike to drown out all of this background noise. If you will hand them the mike & let them hold it next to their mouth, it will drown out crickets, background noise, vehicles passing by, airplane overhead & all the rest which keeps coming in, because they're speaking so softly without the mike close to their mouth.

5. IF YOU DON'T HAND THEM THE MICROPHONE, IT SOUNDS LIKE THEY'RE TALKING WITH THEIR HEADS IN A BARREL. I thought we told you folks to be sure that when you're interviewing to always be sure that the speaker has the microphone. If you're interviewing back & forth between each other, then pass it back & forth, but for God's sake hand the speaker the microphone!—And I hope we don't have to say that again! GBY. If you had only handed him the mike we might have been able to hear him above the crickets, but since that is an automatically adjusted volume controlled microphone, it adjusts itself to suit whatever volume is being fed into it. The minute he stopped talking at that distance the crickets took over.

6. SO PLEASE TRY TO GIVE YOUR SPEAKERS, WHOEVER IS DOING THE TALKING, THE MICROPHONE. Hold it within at least three to six inches of their mouth, whoever's talking. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE we beg of you not to forget this & to pass the mike back & forth if you have to. We know that it's a little difficult & a little extra effort when you're introducing & narrating, etc., but if you have to throw it to'm, you're going to have to do it if we're going to be able to hear them properly & have good tapes.

7. YOU HAVE JUST GOT TO LEARN IF YOU'RE MAKING THESE VIDEOS—& you're making a lot of them & they're important—that we've got to be able to hear these people & you have got to give them the microphone when they're speaking. I don't think that should be asking too much or too great an effort for you to simply hand them the microphone‚ especially when they're doing most of the talking!

8. NOW WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO ASK QUESTIONS & INTERVIEW, then you can take it back & just do as you see them do on TV interview shows that are out in public with portable equipment. In studios they can have several mikes‚ one at each person. But with portable equipment where you only have one mike to share, you have to keep passing it back & forth. You point it at them, stick it close to their mouths & if you get tired of holding it there, let them hold it if they're talking that long. Then when you want to say something‚ grab it back & put it next to your mouth & say it, then stick it back.

9. I DON'T THINK THAT'S ASKING TOO MUCH OR TOO MUCH EXTRA EFFORT after putting so much effort into making these videos & doing such a good job of it & so much is invested in your trips & transportation & time & effort & strength & money & everything, & theirs too. We should be able to hear them, & hear them well—& not just the crickets & the motorcycles in the background!

10. NOW PLEASE‚ FROM HERE ON, HAND THEM THE MICROPHONE if they're going to be doing the talking! If you're going to talk, grab it back, pass it back & forth. I don't think that's asking too much or too hard or too great an effort. Don't be lazy now, pass it back & forth! So GBY & help you to learn this little knack of how to pass the microphone back & forth.

11. —UNLESS YOU'RE GOING TO GET TWO MICROPHONES, & that may be possible & a big help! The narrator has his own mike & there's a mike in the hand of the one being photoed. If there is such a machine or there is such an attachment that you can have two mikes, I suggest that you get another mike & plug'm both in so you can each have a mike then, because we really do need to be able to hear these people.—It's exasperating!

12. THEN EACH SPEAKER CAN HAVE A MIKE & THE INTERVIEWER HAS A MIKE & those being interviewed have a mike, so we don't have to do any more mike-grabbin' & everybody's heard. I don't know how you did it, but GBY for solving that problem. A show like ours & a Family like ours where so many different people are talking & conversing & being interviewed etc. certainly needs at least two mikes, that's for sure! I'm sure it also helps even on the music too.

13. WHEN YOU'RE HOLDING A MICROPHONE YOU MUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO KEEP BUMPING IT WITH YOUR HAND or your elbow or against your body or knocking it in any way on your belt, as it's very hard on the ears to hear those sharp hard sounds, & they drown out what you have to say.

14. ALSO IN THOSE WINDY SPOTS SUCH AS WHERE YOU'RE SHOOTING there on top of that fort there's quite a wind & you're going to need a mike-shield. This is a windshield for your mike which is a sort of a round sponge ball. You can buy them in almost any electronic shop where they have audio equipment, or they sometimes come with the microphone. If not, they are usually a styrofoam ball—for a big–size mike it would probably be as big as a baseball—& cover the mike so that the wind doesn't blow & make a roaring noise from the force of the wind on the mike, & yet the mike can still very well pick up the voices & other sounds. So try to get yourself a windshield for that mike, either buy one, or you could even get one of these soft type of foam balls that some of the kids play with & just cut a hole it & & stick it over your mike—anything that will still conduct the sound without the wind.

15. ALSO ON YOUR SINGING GROUPS, singing & playing groups of musicians & singers, you must have a microphone right there close to them. Do not depend on that microphone being attached to the front of the camera or even on a camera boom‚ it's not sufficient. You must have a microphone right close to your singers & speakers & instrumentalists & not hidden 20 feet away! Otherwise we just cannot clearly hear them, we cannot appreciate their good singing & music, & we get a lot of background noise from all the other racket. It's no good leaving the mike at the camera at such a time to try to pick them all up. When you try to pick them all up, then you don't pick any of'm up really well enough.

16. IF WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HEAR YOU CLEARLY & ENJOY IT & not get too much background noise, we really need to keep that mike close to the speakers as they speak & the singers & instrumentalists too. Also be sure that whoever is holding the mike, even if it's one of the singers, that they try to keep that mike near the mouth of the one who's singing & not too close to the open-hole guitars!

17. I THINK ONE THING THAT MIGHT SOLVE YOUR MICROPHONE SOUND PROBLEM, particularly those group numbers, is to have your own mike stand & position it exactly where you want it. You can't have three mikes like they use for recording in the studio there, but at least you can have your own stand & position it about equidistant from each of the singers.

18. MEANING WITH MUSIC: I SUGGEST THAT THE NEXT TIME YOU HAVE ANY GUITAR SINGING OF ANY KIND be sure that the microphone is closer to the mouth or mouths of the singers than it is to the guitar. Guitar or any kind of musical accompaniment should always be in the background of singing. I'm not for this modern style of music in which the music & the instrumental noise drowns out the voice of the singers & the words of the singers. I like to hear the singers & their words & what they're singing about even more than the guitar. When it comes to a choice I would rather hear the singing that the guitar! Of course the guitar makes a very lovely musical background accompaniment & harmony as long as it stays in the background & not in the foreground on vocal numbers!

19. WHEN YOU HAVE THESE SINGERS WHO ACCOMPANY THEMSELVES VIA GUITAR, the Family seems to have a habit of putting the microphone closer or too close to the guitar & not close enough to their mouth. In a song, the accompanying instrumental or the musical accompaniment should be only in the background to furnish a musical background & fill up the space behind the voice, & therefore the voice should be primary. I think you'll find out if you keep the mouth of the singer close to the mike or the mike close to the mouth of the singer, then the musical instrumental background will come in about right, subservient to the song & not dominating it. Please try to remember that.

20. ALWAYS KEEP THE MICROPHONE CLOSER TO THE MOUTH OF THE SINGER THAN TO THE GUITAR—in fact as close to the mouth of the singer as possible, not more than one or two or three inches from his mouth, & considerably further from the guitar if the singer's holding it. This usually will be sufficient to give the proper balance. Otherwise the instrumental drowns out the song.

21. I WAS A SINGER ONCE & THERE WAS NOTHING THAT I DISLIKED LIKE A PIANIST ACCOMPANIST WHO TRIED TO SHOW OFF & drown me out when I was trying to get across the message in song! Now this is not always necessarily the fault of the accompanist or the singer if your mike is not placed properly. So please put the microphone next to the mouth of the singer or speaker when there's a lot of noise in the background so we can be sure & get the words & the message, & let the background music take care of itself, more or less.

22. REMEMBER, THIS IS MUSIC WITH MEANING, & TO HAVE MEANING IT MUST HAVE A MESSAGE, & to have a message we must be able to understand the words, & the words & the message should take preeminence even over the music‚ particularly the instrumental musical background. This is something which I learned in years of experience as a singer, that the most important thing was the song & its words & message, to get that across‚ & if I couldn't get good instrumental background which would stay in the background & not try to upstage me & steal the show & drown me out, then I would just refuse to have any instrumental accompaniment at all & I would sing "a cappella," without any musical background. You'd be surprised how effective a song is sometimes without any instrumental accompaniment whatsoever! It sounds almost like someone naked, stripped before you & totally revealed, the bare naked truth!

23. DON'T YOU MUSICIANS NOW GET OFFENDED because I have said that the singers & the songs & the words & the message & the meaning are more important than the instrumental accompaniment, but that's the truth as far as we're concerned. We're in the business of trying to get out the Gospel & carry the message across, & I don't care how good the music is, if it drowns out the message, then it's too good, or it's not good at all & it's destroying the effectiveness of the song & its message & its meaning & our whole purpose of reaching the lost with the beautiful message of the song & its words!

24. TRY TO KEEP YOUR INSTRUMENTAL ACCOMPANIMENT DOWN TO A LEVEL BELOW THAT OF THE SINGER, & particularly so that it does not get so loud as to distort & drown out the words of the song! That's very important. I know it may not be the custom today, & I notice in modern music it's not the custom any more.

25. IN MODERN MUSIC IT SEEMS THAT THE WORDS ARE SUBSERVIENT TO THE MUSIC, & the music is made pre-eminent—the sound, the noise, the jangle of the horrible dissonant discordant so-called music! I could hardly call it music, it's just noise! It's so loud that you can't even hear or understand what the singer is singing‚ & apparently you're not even supposed to. It's not considered important. It's just like one of the instruments in the band, & the song & the words are not even important & it doesn't matter whether you hear them or understand them or not, it's just part of the accompaniment.

26. WELL, I'M SORRY, BUT I DON'T AGREE WITH THAT KIND OF MUSIC & I don't like that kind of music today, & I don't like to hear a singer drowned out so that you can't hear the words or understand the message or get any meaning whatsoever.

27. IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE MUSIC WITH MEANING, WE'D BETTER REALLY TURN THAT AROUND & SAY WE NEED MEANING WITH MUSIC—the Meaning ought to be first. Now I don't mean for you to change your name, because people probably wouldn't understand that‚ but I think you can understand it & I want you to keep that in mind. As far as I'm concerned, in our programming & our recording, the Meaning should come first, & the music just as musical background.

28. EXCEPT OF COURSE IN PURELY INSTRUMENTAL NUMBERS WHERE THERE'S NO SINGING, no voice, no singer, no words & it's just a purely musical interpolation or a break in the vocal to bring out the beautiful instrumental music. That's always a welcome variety & welcome relief from thinking of the words all the time. I think it's beautiful when the singer takes a break & to give them a rest too‚ & in between verses there's a little instrumental interlude such as one of Sarah's violin obligatos in between the words of the song, in between verses, to bring out the beauty of the musical background, the musical accompaniment, & give the musicians a chance to really show their beautiful artistry. I love to hear those talking-guitar, slide-guitar obligatos that Jeremy plays sometimes between verses of songs!

29. I LOVE YOUR MUSIC, YOU MUSICIANS! DON'T MISUNDERSTAND ME, please, & it's very necessary of course. It is a musical show. But when there is a song & a singer with words & a message, in order to get across the Meaning we must put the musical accompaniment in the background & give the singer & his or her songs‚ the words, the message, the Meaning, absolute pre-eminence over all musical accompaniment.

30. DON'T GO TO THE OPPOSITE EXTREME NOW & get hurt & play so softly that we can't even hear you, but try to strike a happy medium where the singer is given the foreground & the pre-eminence & prominence over all other sound on that particular number while she or he is singing, so that we can clearly hear the song, understand the words, get the message & comprehend the real meaning. As far as you instrumentalists are concerned on an instrumentally accompanied song, please be the accompanist & not the main featured artists. The singer & his or her song & message & Meaning are to have pre-eminence over all other music while singing the Meaning.

31. THE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC SHOULD BE IN THE BACKGROUND GIVING BEAUTIFUL ACCOMPANIMENT, filling up the scenery so to speak, background scenery of the song in which she or he is the star, & the musical background is kept in the background. This way it is delightful to hear that music in the background & also to be able to understand the words of the song & its message & give it real Meaning! Please try to remember that on the vocals!

32. NOW ON INSTRUMENTALS YOU MUSICIANS CAN REALLY SHINE & COME OUT LOUD! On the obligatos in between, musical interludes between verses or in pauses of the song, you can come up loud & strong & take over the scene & really bring it out, belt it out! But when there is a singer‚ & a song‚ with words, may it be words with music not just music with words in the background, please! I hope you get it & I hope you like it & I'm sorry if you don't. I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but that's the way I feel about songs & singing & words with music.

33. I WAS A SINGER FOR YEARS & I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ABLE TO GET MY MESSAGE ACROSS & for the audience to understand the words & get their meaning & trying to do that when some pianist or accompanists is virtually trying to show off & drown me out!

34. I'M NOT SAYING YOU BOYS ARE TRYING TO SHOW OFF, in fact on this last number I think she was probably giving her own accompaniment if I'm not mistaken, because it didn't sound like one of your guitars, it was not professional enough & sounded like her own accompaniment. It was very good, it was sweet, but it was too loud & it drowned her out. I think you probably had the mike placed not close enough to her mouth & too close to the guitar. So please keep that in mind. Let's make the music subservient to the songs, & our singers with words & message & Meaning most important above all.

35. NOW LIKE ME, YOU & THE FAMILY, ONE CAN'T DO WITHOUT THE OTHER, we can't do without each other. The singer is not going to be as well received & the number will not be as beautiful as it will be with musical background & accompaniment. She or he needs you & that music & that accompaniment, & of course it adds & completes & makes the song, in a way, to be beautiful & musical & well received. But please keep it in the background on vocals!

36. IT ANNOYS ME WHEN THE INSTRUMENTAL ACCOMPANIMENT DROWNS OUT THE SONG & THE WORDS, the message, & therefore destroys all the Meaning—because we can't even get the Meaning when we can't hear the words. So watch out for that, boy. You come up loud & strong & play in between verses, choruses or in musical interludes or obligatos, but please not while the singer is singing OK? All right. Thank you very much. ILY!

37. WE NEED & WE LIKE ALL THE GOOD MUSIC WE CAN GET, but just please tone it down while somebody's singing. As I said, don't go to the opposite extreme & play so softly now that we can't even hear you! I've heard many a song & recording in which I could hear the singer loud & clear, but it sounded almost as though they were singing a cappella, without musical accompaniment, because the accompaniment was so soft in the background, so dim & with insufficient volume that it sounded like the singer was singing all alone without any musical accompaniment, & that's not good either.

38. THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE STRANGE, A LITTLE ODD, & it certainly sometimes attracts your attention & you might try it sometime just for effect, if some singer wants to try it. It's a little musical variation, & as you'll notice sometimes, even in a song you musicians sometimes let the singers sing a few notes or bars even along before you chime in again. That has its effect of bringing out the song & its words & the voice of the singer.

39. JUST TRY TO FIND A GOOD BALANCE, THE HAPPY MEDIUM OF THE PROPER VOLUME for your instruments & your instrumental accompaniment to a singer when she or he is singing, so that you don't drown them out & make your music so loud that it's distorting. We have to turn the volume so loud in order to get the words of the song that the loud music distorts our playback speaker!

40. WE ALWAYS PLAY THESE BACK ON A VERY FINE REPRODUCING SYSTEM with an extremely large speaker so that we can get the full depth of tone & resonance & all the decibels & the high fidelity so that we can hear everything from the woofers to the tweeters, the deep base tones to the high sibilants. We get the full range of fidelity & can hear it very clearly because we want to be able to be sure to hear these very well, the way they really sound, almost like in the original. So when it gets to the point that your music is really so loud that it's distorting this big speaker, if we have to turn it that loud in order to get enough volume to hear the singer, then it's really getting too loud!

41. I HOPE YOU MUSICIANS ARE HUMBLE ENOUGH TO TAKE THIS BIT OF ADVICE. I hope you have the love & the humility & the patience to receive my corrections & instructions & suggestions & sometimes even scoldings. I try to give them lovingly & I try to give them sweetly & with patience—of course I don't have any patience with that rock music & I socked it to you on some of those—but on these fine points‚ technical points of the program‚ such as the volume of instrumental accompaniment etc., these must be dealt with & must be taken care of so that the music & songs do have the proper balance & that the songs are made pre-eminent with their words, message & meaning, & the music is kept in the background on the songs.

42.--HOWEVER IN BETWEEN VERSES OR PHRASES OR STRICTLY MUSICAL NUMBERS, that's the time for you musicians to shine! But you can shine best if you help the singer to shine & do your best to make the audience focus on his or her song & words & message above all. The best accompaniment is an accompaniment that is hardly noticed but simply exalts the singer & his song, or her song‚ & stays in the background & merely fills in & is like the setting to a precious stone!

43. SEE IF YOU CAN'T GIVE US A LITTLE MORE OF THE SINGING & NOT QUITE SO MUCH OF THE INSTRUMENT. In all cases I would say as a general rule in musically accompanied singing‚ I prefer to hear the singing the most, & I prefer to hear it with the greatest volume & clarity‚ & with the instrumental music accompaniment in the background. OK?

44. BOOM MIKES: I LIKE THAT BOOM MIKE YOU'RE USING IN THOSE GROUP SHOTS, it really did the trick! It's sure a good way to whirl the mike around quick to where you need it. A boom mike is really great for group shots, very good. Another thing that a boom mike does for your group musicals is to keep the mike up near the heads, which is near the mouths rather than so near the louder guitars. I sure like the use of that boom mike!

45. VIDEOS VS.P.A. SYSTEMS:-VIDEOS HAVE PRIORITY! If you're using a P.A. System too, please when you're making videos give the video priority, even if you have to tape the mikes together. Remember what I said about videos: The people singing or speaking must have the video mike. We're not making these videos for nothing! When you're making videos, the video must be primary & have top priority both in sound & sight.

46. THE VIDEO MIKE SHOULD BE TIED TO THE OTHER MICROPHONE. When you're using a P.A. mike or something like that‚ you really ought to by all means tie your video mike to the other mike. If you're using a floor-stand mike for you P.A. system, tie your video mike using rubber bands, tape or string & put your video mike right up against the other mike. You'll have to learn how to tape two mikes together so you can use the P.A. System & the camera mike both, so your video audience can hear you too.

47. MIKESTANDS, PIANOS: SOMEBODY'S GOT TO KEEP LOWERING & RAISING THE MIKESTAND ACCORDING TO THE PERFORMER so the tall ones don't have to stoop & the short ones don't have to hide!—And remember, if you ever set a mike on a piano, the piano's all you're going to hear. When filming children the microphone should be closer to the center of the children's group near the older children who sing more distinctly so you can pick up the words better.

48. SOUNDPROOFING: MOST STUDIOS ARE ACTUALLY PADDED CELLS! They need them for most musicians, but also as a matter of acoustics & sound. Usually curtains on the walls with help to stop echo, or you can use regular soundproofing material such as the Celotex soundproof tiles which most studios use. It might be a little expensive to use it, but it's decorative & soundproof & helps absorb sounds so that you don't get that hollow echo chamber effect. Or you can have your walls completely curtained & a little padding on the ceiling or even curtains stretched across the ceiling, all of which will help to eliminate echo. You're going to have to pad those walls or curtain them though‚ or you'll get a little echo on your little dialogue speeches, songs, etc.—head in barrel!

49. DUBBING: USUALLY YOU DO YOUR DUBBING OVER SOME PICTURE‚ even in this introductory material you placed in here. But our screen was blank, in fact even worse, it was flashing black & white etc., because apparently you weren't taking any picture while you were talking. If you folks are going to be talking, just yourselves & not taking pictures of others, we'd like to have you focus the camera on yourselves while you're talking so that we can see you

talking while you're talking! If that's not too much trouble, we'd appreciate it, even though you're dubbing in & putting in introductory material‚ if you're not over–laying it over some other photographic work, please focus the camera on you while you're talking. OK? Thanks a lot!

50. I NEVER CARED MUCH FOR LIP-SYNCING, because for some reason you can almost always spot it, & then I always feel kind of cheated, like I'm being deceived. The video soundtrack quality may be better‚ but often too much of it is out-of-synch & it's distracting & too easily detectable, it's too obvious. One of the advantages of your lip-synching is to free you from the microphone in the video. I realise that you can get better sound & better sound quality on lip-synching‚ but it better be synched, especially your outdoor shots. You sort of can be forgiven for lip-synching on outdoor singing shots, but it's very difficult, making a lot of extra work for you all & it takes a lot of extra effort. I believe in hearing the original just like it's given under real face-to-face inspiration!

51. "LIP-SYNCING" IS A HIGHLY TECHNICAL METHOD OF RECORDING PICTURE & VOICE SEPARATELY but so perfectly timed & performed that the words fit the speaker's or singer's lip movements exactly so that it looks like he's singing it "live", or recording the sound directly while singing or speaking‚ when he actually has recorded them separately & then later sound & motion were synchronized ("synched") by an expert technician.

52. LIP-SYNCING IS A WHOLE NEW SCIENCE OF CINEMATOGRAPHY which has made possible the producing of the same movie or video with many different soundtracks in different languages!—It is usually done so well that you hardly notice that the language you're hearing is not the same as that being spoken by the actor!

53. NEVERTHELESS, EXPERTS LIKE YOU & ME (HA!) CAN USUALLY TELL we're being fooled by the technicians & their magic, & it just doesn't ring quite true!—It just hasn't got the same umph as the original!—Especially if you can tell it's phoney!—I'm sorry, I just don't like it! Like the guy in the sci-fi sighed when he stuck his money in the machine & out came a baby: "I still prefer the old–fashioned way!"—Ha!