Judging Bands With Electronics

Question: I would like to know how you judge music when a band uses an electric keyboard, microphone, and large speakers compared to bands that do not, especially when the keyboard and other mic’d band members play half the show while the rest of the band works on the visual effect of the show?

Answer: Visually, the only time it would affect my score would be when I have two groups who are extremely close in score. If I have a group that consistently plays when they are moving vs. a group who only play as an ensemble standing still and moves when the soloists are playing, I’d be more likely to give the nod to the group that is displaying more simultaneous responsibilities. Again, this would be used as a sort of “tie-breaker” as I would be evaluating the entire program. Musically, let’s talk about performance first. The mic’d soloists are more exposed so they better be at the top of their game. If you frack a note while on a loudspeaker, it’s probably going to be much more noticeable vs. if the entire ensemble is playing and the “guilty party” is located on the back hash 25 yard line. Effect-wise, those bands that choose to use the electronics sometimes live and die by them. If they work, great – if they don’t, you run the risk of loosing musical nuance and the flow of the show. Some bands may choose to highlight a soloist frequently because that is a definitive strength of the program. In addition, variety is a hallmark of both visual and music effect. If the only thing you hear is the same soloist or keyboard over and over, that definitely limits the range of the program.

– Mark Culp