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Delta Sound Amplifies Music on the Barge

Delta Sound recently handled the UK premier of Alvin Curran’s “Maritime Rites,” which saw a DiGiCo D5 Live at FOH, with XTA digital signal processors controlling two hangs of V-DOSC loudspeakers.

Commissioned by Tate Modern, “Maritime Rites” is the first collaboration between Tate Modern and the London Symphony Orchestra and is part of UBS Openings: Live, a series of bi-monthly performance events at the gallery, which is a regular Delta Sound client, and marked a prelude to the start of the Thames Festival. The free performance, inspired by the sounds of the river and concluding with the Bells of St Paul’s Cathedral, was split between the barge, where Curran, along with musicians Evan Parker and Melvyn Poore, played keyboard/synthesizer, saxophone and tuba, respectively, the north landscape outside the Tate Modern, where the LSO were positioned, and the UBS Orchestra, which brought together UBS employees and administration staff from the LSO performing from the Millennium Bridge.

“The barge was fitted out with a three-point dV-DOSC system doing a left, right and mono sum firing to the bridge,” explains Delta Project manager Lee Dennison. “All the sounds—notes, samples and key notes transposed to selected samples by the artist of sound effects from round the world—from there were played through this. There was also a dV-DOSC system firing up to the Millennium Bridge, where the 100 musicians played acoustically in time with the piece.”

The barge’s FOH position was manned by Jim Armstrong mixing on a Yamaha M7, with Phil Down as system technician. “We had to keep outboard and processing as light as possible on the barge for obvious reasons,” says Dennison. “We used d&b wedges and a DPA 4060 mic kit for the instruments to try and get as much headroom as we could out of the system, and a further three XTA DP226s for processing. Pretty much a standard rig for Delta.”

From left: Lee Dennison, Paul Carter and Guy Davies from Delta Sound

A purpose-built, high-powered radio link from Hand Held Audio was used to fire five sends from the barge to bankside, which were sent directly to the DiGiCo D5 Live, where Richard Sharratt was on mixing duties. “The D5 performed flawlessly,” says Sharratt. “There were a lot of unusual sounds to account for and we were using its onboard facilities exclusively for this. We even had a special EQ set up for a conch!”

Stage monitoring for the LSO brass section was via d&b wedges. This was then fed back through the V-DOSC system, hung from smart masts on the bankside and controlled via five XTA DP226s. This feed was then sent back to the barge for Alvin to play along with.

In addition, 18 two-way Motorola radios were set onto repeaters as Tate and technical staff, as well as various conductors were positioned within a half-mile vicinity of the site. “Technically, it was an interesting job because we didn’t quite know where we were timing to,” continues Dennison. “There were sounds, both live and amplified, coming from all over the place. The main focus was Curran on the barge, but the brass section was 300 meters in front of that playing back at him through the system that was playing him, so nothing could be delayed to any particular point.

“It wasn’t a conventional left, right system, delay, front of house and off you go set up,” Dennison concludes. “We were mixing to the side of one of the P.A.s and relying on the source coming in, as well as on Alvin’s personal engineer to let us know what pieces needed to feel heavier or lighter in the mix. The logistics were certainly a challenge, but the sort of challenge we really enjoy at Delta!”

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