On Sound Projection

Day 2 in aus LICHT, projecting MONTAGs-GRUSS and getting ready to continue with MÄDCHENPROZESSION, EVAs LIED and DER KINDERFÄNGER. In this photo: (left to right) Arne Bock, Marko Uzunovski, Juan Verdaguer, Omer Eilam (in rear row) and Kathinka Pasveer. Photo by María Eugenia Verdaguer.

I first learned about the term 'sound projection' during the Stockhausen courses (Kürten, Germany) back in 2008. Kathinka Pasveer, Bryan Wolf and Igor Kavulek assisted Karlheinz Stockhausen at the console or behind the stage for many years in his role of sound projectionist. Stockhausen invented this role in order to precisely describe his own work at and around the mixing desk in a live performance situation.

In the absence of a concise definition of sound projection as an art, I think it's fair to begin with a compiled description of the things a sound projectionist does at work according to the text Kathinka wrote for the course back in 2010:

– The sound projectionist should be a musician who is able to read music and who is able to correct and work with soloists and large groups of musicians (orchestras, choirs). He should be able to speak slowly and distinctly so that everyone can understand him. He should thoroughly know the works he is projecting (by rehearsing with musicians, listening to CDs which were mixed by the composer, assisting in rehearsals and performances, studying scores).

– The sound projectionist should be aware that he is in the middle of the audience and that he should not draw any attention to his person or his actions. His chair should be noiseless. The page-turning should be as soft as possible. All lights on the mixing console which are not absolutely necessary (peak level lights etc.) should be taped over with black tape. In case computers are used for playback, the monitor screens should be turned off during a performance. The sound projectionist should not have any “special” spotlights on his person. Blue filters should be used for any reading lights.

– The sound projectionist should not chew gum.

– Before the set-up, the sound projectionist should check if any of the equipment makes noise (ventilators, power supply, etc.) and change this so that it is absolutely quiet at the mixer and in the hall.

– The sound projectionist needs an assistant to check all seats in the hall (especially those close to loudspeaker groups) to help setting the right levels at the mixer position and to decide whether seats need to be blocked.

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 ©2021 Juan Verdaguer

Photos by Juan Verdaguer, Guille Conte and Katie Clark