Very entertaining session. Playing seems to be less self-conscious and freer.
Some things went wrong, but this is a new way of working, and given good humour problems can be solved or worked round. A they were, mostly. And all will be fine next week!
Initial problem with getting into Zoom. Some participants didn’t manage this in course of session. PM distracted and trying to solve problems while session in progress.
RH took over the Host role. RH didn’t think that people might get to the Waiting Room and he would have to let them in. If they requested this he did not see it. He may well have slammed the meeting closed not remembering if the host left the whole session closed.
The sound check was each person playing a bit and all others agreeing when it was fine. Took maybe four minutes a person. Common issue was the received sound volume is very dependent on the distance from the microphone, rather than just the volume produced live. There was some discussion as to whether Zoom was rebalancing or changed the sound, particularly if it prioritised loud sound over quiet ones. A few tests seemed to show that it did not. There was an unexplored background issue as to whether people had removed the Zoom pre-sets in advanced settings.
The first track was a return to Free Improvisation: no time limit, no clock. Went well. RH was not playing but it was suggested he did, as the ensemble was small and the texture on the thin side.
Then a return to 50 50 with the clocks. RH had not prepared what to play, had to get his clock going in a minute, and was confused as to whether the set length was 3+3 or 4+4.
There was a reminder that we would try a Zoom record. RH as host had access to starting and stopping this. He was later surprised that he was trying count in, start Zoom record, start audacity record and start his clock at the same instant. He generally had the Audacity screen up and lost visual connection with other participants. Asking for something to go wrong!
In one of these sessions RH remembered that Audacity was recording the sound in his room, and indeed his playing was peaking disproportionally high. Played softer in relation to volume levels indicated and had to go very quiet. RH noted, too late, he had not done an initial sound check.
Obvious in retrospect, but if this mode of recording is made then the room should be quiet and not have another sound source in it.
More sessions followed, with all participants on 50:50 at 3 mins + 3 mins.
Sessions all seemed very different, which is pleasing.
Session had an air of chaos and bumbling through. The playing was varied and engaging. RH had been gloomy all day, but by the end of the session was smiling. A memorable event. Unrepeatable!
One lesson might be that it needs a non-player to keep an eye on things, do recordings, whatever. It looks as if this requires them to be the host. One could try rotating this using a person not playing.
On a quick listening it seems that Zoom audio recording is rather good. However RH is still confused as to what some tracks are. One can compare some recordings, which is interesting to do.
RH notes more like a ‘studio’ or radio soundscape, as people are notably nearer or further from their microphones Upside: adds interest to the mix, downside: hard to predict result when one is doing it.
RH 21 May 2020