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Tracker tour

2006-02-21

Valdres_1.JPG
The previous two weeks I’ve been touring in the Valdres region of Oppland with Frode Thorsen and Gitte Bastiansen performing Tracker at a total of 19 schools for approx. 3.000 kids. The weather was completely different from Bergen proper snow and freezing cold at times (down to -19 degrees celsius) instead of the eternal rainy and windy automn we are blessed with in Bergen. Compared to the previous two tours in 2003 and 2005 this one was more work: Longer distances to drive less psare time in the evenings. In addition the amount of equipment to carry seem to be increasing from one tour to the next. The big addition this time was a Continuum Fingerboard.

Valdres_2.JPGSome but not all of the equipment was left in the car over the night. While patching the sound card and mixer at the first school the cables tended to be stiff and non-flexible due to the heat and it almost felt as I could ahve managed to break them or wear them out if I was not cautious. According to PhotoPhono who provided the PA system it shouldn’t be a problem to leave the mixer and speakers in the car but at one concert the reverb unit dropped out and at another one we got bad crackling noise in one of the speakers. In general though we didn’t have much problems.

In general we were performing at two schools a day: Up early in the morning driving getting the equipment in rigging performing packing down getting everything back into the car and move on to the mext place. Rigging tended to take a little less than an hour. With the last concert generally finishing at 13:00 it was a pretty busy schedule. I almost felt like a touring circus and we probably appeared at least as strange to the kids and teachers.

Valdres_3.JPGThe performances felt consistent and tight all the way through the tour. Thanks to the development of Jamoma during the last year (I first used it for the Tracker tour last spring) I now have much more flexibility in the performance and am able to create more dramatic shifts than earlier. One of the potential problems of the first Hacker tour as well as Cracker performed at Autunnale 2003 was the difficulties of doing sudden drastic changes in the sound processing with a mouse only as interface. Now a lot more is scripted vastly improving the flexibility of the system.

One of the more important observations during the tour was the importance of getting the help and backup required from producers and the various school. The more they are able to take care of practical issues the more we are able to fully consentrate on the performance itself doing as good and focused a performance as possible. It’s not only a question of having everything working in time for the concert to start it is also a question of getting there without already being drained of energy or not getting the extra 5 minuites to “tune in”. This varies quite a bit from one school to the next. At the worst we had to carry all of the equipment ourselves wait out in the cold for a long while prior to the performance because no one from the school turns up (not good for a dancer) etc. I believe we were all quite professional at insisting on doing a good job but at other schools when everything becomes smooth sailing there’s suddenly something extra happening in the performance. Of course this is old knowledge but it was confirmed once more during this tour.

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