Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CMS Christian Music Summit Northwest 2011 Report

A long time ago, when you worked for a high tech company they would send you to some conference like Siggraph and bring up booklets and brocures about computer animation and watch the animation show and see what Pixar was up to before Toy Story.

Now its my church that sends me to a conference as training for being on the worship team (of course, they don't pay me a salary but I'll take what I can get) but they've asked me to write up what I learned, so I'll put up where everybody else can see it.

New Hope Intl Church team

It's held in Seattle at the Overlake Christian Church which is so massive it has a half-mile long parking lot, and a Disneyland type parking shuttle on service sundays.

Christy and Nathan Nockels
Opening was Christy and Nathan Nockels, here is what she looked like at Purpose Driven Worship Conference 08

She has as youtube channel on writing a song:

Carl Albrecht did the keynote

some years back he was at our church along with Leanne when he had a full head of hair, and I still have her card from back then. We just revived "Your Love is Far Better", here is one from 2004. Unfortunately, she couldn't make it this year.

I reviewed my mp3 recorder and this stood out

"Musicians, let me say this about being in bands. Don't go in back when the pastor is preaching and get online and play games and eat donuts or drink Starbucks. Get out there, sit down and listen to the word of God even if you don't like your pastor right now. Does this sound hard? These are the things these are the things that anchor you in. You know I don't want to sit back here and talk about whats on Facebook and Youtube. And again, there's nothing wrong with that. Don't use this as like "we will not have youtube in the church and I'm going to give up my iPhone" Don't take a pendulum and go that way. But be mindful what keeps my first love stirred up so that when you are worshipping and trying to serve your community and you are giving your actual life that the Lord is staying close to you. Trust me I've been there where the Lord wasn't close and that is he**.

Recording Your Worship Service

Doug Gould went into digital recording. He was featuring the Presonus digital mixer which is starting with street prices from $1300 for 16 channels. We currently have an old Mackie with 24 channels which is huge. The nice thing is it's not just a mixer but each channel has digital effects like limiter, reverb, etc, and with firewire, you can record every individual channel, not just the mix.

Problem with using the PA output to record is that it is dead, he recommends using an audience mike, but ideally, use a condenser mic which is more sensitive and use a shotgun to avoid signal from the PA speakers. Stereo is good to get congregation "amen" from both sides of the church, and you can do this without a digital soundboard as long as that signal does not get into the PA mix for feedback. 

He likes to use the recording so that the band can review, not so much for production. The other cool new feature is that not only can you control everything from a laptop, but they also have a ipad tablet app so the tech can actually go onstage and adjust monitor levels and mixes, or work from inside the congregation and leave the mixer in back. On our setup you really can't hear the PA speaker output and what it sounds like in the center of the room. 

Fly! Virtual Worship Band Software

These guys have tracks so that you can have "virtual" players added to your band, track by track. They have a foot switch (one or two banks) so that you can start, go to a chorus, or next song, loop etc. 


Demo video:

Fundamentals of Microphones and Applications

Some microphone facts:

Dynamic microphone: We currently only have these for singers and instruments. They are built like very small speakers, with the speaker driving a coil to make a very weak generator. They sound fine for voice, they are rugged, and can handle very loud sounds, and still most common in use.  He demonstrated using a large speaker as a microphone, and showed that some drum mics are based on small speakers.

Condenser: These are commonly used for tiny mics on hand recorders. The head acts as a capacitor so that there is very little mass as nothing else moves. They need power, typically "phantom power" with the 3 prong XLR plug or batteries. They are the best sounding mics before the riduculously expensive ribbon mic because they handle "transients" and highs better, but they can be tooooo sensitive if placed near drums, etc, and they are easily overloaded. They can be more expensive than the cheapest dynamic mikes.. We should try one of these, and higher sensitivity can boost singers who aren't loud.

Proxmity effect - don't get too close or you get too much boomy bass effect

Inverse square law - Basically, signal drops off a lot the farther away the mic is. Sheri Gould (later) mentions that proper mic placement is 1-2 inches away from the mouth.

Boundary mic - Mic for table or floor are placed right on the floor so that it doesn't get both direct sound and sound bounced from a flat surface which can cause wierd interference wave effects

Directional (cardiod) mics beat feedback by rejecting sound at the back. So keep the tail pointed at the monitor.

Hypercardiod are so narrow they also reject at the sides in case you have singers who are loud and next to each other, but they reject at a back diagonal, so place monitors at the side of the singer, not straight in front.

"Balanced lines " work with the XLR cables extend how long the cord can go. Guitar cables with the "phono" jack plugs are limited to about 20 ft. Consumer mics are usually unbalanced.

Microphones and Monitors for Vocalists

Sheri Gould normally does singing courses, but she did this one with a couple of burly tech guys at her side as the "dumb blond vocalist". She said that sound people often have a big heart, but aren't stupid but "ignorant" meaning that their churches should give these guys some training.

One of the big problems is "can I have more of me?"  you should not just have volume wars and turn everybody up, you need to figure out what to turn DOWN or what to move so that people can hear themselves.
One thing she said often was bad is to put the drums in the middle and singers in front as it is hard to hear. Also putting singers in a wide line is bad because they can't see each other or hear outside of the monitors which are too loud.

One suggestion is the fix the house sound first BEFORE fixing the monitor. Sound guys need to show up first and make sure everything works before musicians show up. She prefers that all mics are set to the SAME gain level, it is the job of the singer to make sure they blend correctly, not up to the guy who says "I'll just turn down suzy, nobody will miss her"

Proper mic distance is 1-2", do NOT hold the head of the mic, she prefers mic on a stand rather always held in the hand.

The sound tech guy said that he likes to get not only a set list, but which version to listen to. One guy says he hates sound guys who don't listen to music but only have the job because they are comfortable with moving knobs, they should be listening to songs, not talk radio.


  • Meeting 
  • line check
  • battery - speaker - mic
  • sound check
  • communicate
  • performance

Tim Moon Taking it to the streets

The hippie guy walking around in head-to-toe Tie Die was Tim Moon. He does streetcorner ministry in the SF bay area, and has a setup where he sits, plays guitar, and harmonica with a tray with about 16 harmonicas for every possible key.
Tim Moon, Eric and Me
He says that he basically looks like any other street corner musician, but he's actually a minister who help out people he finds in need. His wife got drawn into running a meals program at a church down there. He plays a mix of folk and christian music or christian folk music.

Unfortunately that was the time I didn't bring my video camera. I did mention that our church as done outreach and played on street corners in downtown at Westlake park and near the Pikes Place market and fed the homeless.

David Harsh 

Showed chord and strumming. He is doing a workshop which is a whole weekend with room and board for $550, limit 10. Here is is promotional vid, which he did live:

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