This is my favorite week of the entire year. Blue Angel week is what I live for as a music technology kid. Blue Angel is a show that the male music fraternity puts on every year. This year was our 45th anniversary of the show. It is open to students and faculty on campus. People put groups together and audition for the show. Additionally, the brothers of Phi Mu Alpha run lights and sound for the show. I think it is very cool to see the students on campus audition. There are some very talented people on this campus that are not involved in some of the musical groups and this gives them an opportunity to shine. Additionally, I like this week because I get an opportunity to manipulate sound equipment and try things out.
During the week, I rang out the monitors, I got front of house fully working, manipulated the drive rack, played with compressors, and got to start the mixing of different things. In order to ring out the monitors I would make the monitors feedback and pull out certain frequencies on the graphic equalizers. There are six monitors, which made the process difficult. I would memorize the pitch and find the note on the piano and then figure out the frequency by using things we have learned in the class physics of sound. That way, I am more accurate and not pulling out wrong frequencies. I also, played with the drive rack. The drive rack is a processor that has a crossover, anti-feedback suppression, compressor, maximizer, equalizer, and it takes the two outputs of the board and makes it six outputs. This overall improves the sound, protects the system and allows the user to have more control. The compressors are always something that needs to be tweaked during the show. This just protects the sound and makes it more even volume, despite dynamic changes.
My favorite part of the show is actually mixing the show. I love sitting behind the board and getting sucked into that world. Mixing is one of the most relaxing and stressful things to do. When everything is sounding great and working, it is wonderful. But when everything is not functioning, as it should, I get stressed. There is a lot to work with. The show is usually around 25 channels with 2 more channels that I use for effects. Additionally, I record the show. There is a drum set that is fully miced, 2 different keyboards, 2 direct inputs, 2 guitar amps, 1 bass amp, 3 horn microphones, and 4 vocal microphones. Some acts are simple with only an acoustic guitar and vocals. Additionally, some acts are in the middle and some acts utilize every single channel. I am going to upload some of the recordings once I am done breaking them down and tweaking them a little.
All in all, this week is my favorite. I love the atmosphere that is created and the sense of community that we all feel during the rehearsals and the show. It just makes Saint Mary’s close. Its overall a magical experience. Makes me love music even more and the school. At the end of the show, all the brothers, Alumni and Collegiate, get up onto the stage and sing a song together.
The Photo is by David Dean