|Definition: "Open Mic" ...A public event at which
musicians of all skill levels are given the opportunity to
perform in front of a live audience with the use of a sound
system. No further organization or constraint is present.
1. No consideration whatsoever is given to room size or
configuration. Huge rooms dilute audience involvement with
performers and audience feels disconnected from players... gives
audience permission for chatter during performance.
"Shotgun" rooms can pose insurmountable sound problems.
2. The sound system can be of any quality and stage monitors
may or may not be used. A "sound person" may or may not be
present. There is no real commitment to optimum results.
Sound is typically sub-standard and musicians often cannot hear
themselves. The musician says; "I cannot hear myself" or
"I cannot hear my guitar". The answer from those in charge
is frequently: "Don't worry, we can hear you out here". It
is useful to remember why we all started playing music in the
first place... because we liked the way it sounded!
If the musician has a poor experience in hearing him or herself,
it is likely the performance will be lackluster. If a
musician is asked to choose between an open mic with a good
sound system or one with a poor sound system it seems obvious
what that choice would be.
3. The Master of Ceremonies is not necessarily someone well
suited for the job.
4. There is no effort whatsoever to control audience talking
during performance. Those in attendance see the event as a
gab-fest with music in the background. Musicians are
distracted by the noise and are discouraged looking out over a
crowd that seems disengaged from the performance. People
in the audience who actually are there to listen cannot hear the
song given the crowd noise and they will become disenchanted
with the event. Musicians who do participate will more
often turn to up-tempo songs played at higher volume.
Ballads will rarely be played in this atmosphere.
To see an open mic that has succumbed to the above maladies is a
depressing experience. I will not mention local eamples.
Typically, the sound system is not the worst but it is
the lack of noise control that is a glaring example of just how
bad things can get. The musicians themselves feel free to
carry on loud conversations, including tables immediately facing
the stage... some with their back turned on the stage
while one of their "friends" flounders around on the stage
totally unheard and unappreciated. Witness the
spectacle of people so wrapped up in their conversations about
music that they are totally ignoring that music... live
music, is actually taking place!
"Civilians" in attendance see that no respect is given to the
performance and they add to the din. The result is instead
of an environment that fosters artistry and musicianship, the
event is more a training ground for those who seek experience
playing in a loud bar or other setting where music is just