Catch Your Reply: Live music in the pub

South Yorkshire’s one and only small-scale music venue, the venue itself, sits a mere 200m from a railway station and 30m from a shopping centre – the kind of acoustics that will never stop…

Catch Your Reply: Live music in the pub

South Yorkshire’s one and only small-scale music venue, the venue itself, sits a mere 200m from a railway station and 30m from a shopping centre – the kind of acoustics that will never stop offering an enticing challenge to multi-genres of sound. But is there a musical venue available with which you would rather be exposed? Is your preferred venue in sight but not here? In our new series, Catch Your Reply, we hear from an array of insiders who’ve become comfortable with the experience of gigging in the pub, in the pub, on a grand piano, outside. It’s not just the people we chat to. They have easy access to the support infrastructure which ensures the experiences they are describing are realistic. As ever in music, exceptional venues are organised within unlikely places. Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. In this case, they include an almost 100-year-old local chapel which can turn into an intimate live music venue, two pubs in the same bar. One is old and has recently been turned into a music venue, and the other, more formal, has an adjacent choir room which is home to the musical instrument library of the choir college. For every venue we visit it seems like there are others right across the country. You might spend your night surrounded by musicians at pubs where music is planned, rehearsed and played well before people appear. The most popular venues in the UK are usually located in densely populated places like Birmingham or Manchester. Western suburbs – which often fail to maximise their musical potential – are being pushed to the brink by mega-ports and railway stations.

Here’s BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker meeting professional and amateur musicians At Heathrow the International Music Centre offers an unrivalled venue with professional sound. In its venue the venue is under no obligation to spend anything on fixing the acoustics, including the roof, but it is often called upon by desperate bands to perform when the sound fails to match what they can hear at home. By overcoming the needs of the person they’re playing for, these venues often become excellent places to hear music in another context – and they may open up to others through the sheer abundance of contemporary music offerings – if only it had the technical facilities to feed it properly.

It’s often an emphasis on the ‘supertall’; the design of a venue which looks better than a warehouse with real pianos hanging off the wall. With a central stage, giving access to voices and instruments and also providing vistas to the outside of the venue, these “intimate music gatherings” offer a theatrical and, in rare cases, even starry view of a concert. No wonder musicians want to play here: On average, the budgets for some of the areas we visit are more than double that for making music at home – so you have to judge this by relative small-scale – and there are a few practical implications which should be kept in mind if you seek to make musical enjoyment a part of your week in your local pub. First, your local should not be the only space you are exploring with a string quartet, baritone, eight dancers or string quintet. A quieter studio will probably be more comfortable to listen to You have to put effort into planning for your surroundings to provide a high quality listening experience. Once you have your vision of the space you want, you should hunt down an architect or a structural engineer with specialist knowledge of acoustics; then you should hire a pianist and a string player from local musicians’ clubs, or head back to the pub where you’re writing the music and sing it live to a talented sideman to perform it to you. Your audience is a matter of personal choice. But a setup where you can hear things at home but not hear the words that you want, or the music that you’ve made, is not realistic for a lot of people. Email your suggestions for our next Catch Your Reply week at [email protected]

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