Issue 41: Tangents w/out Trivia

“If it’s too loud! Your too old!”

I think everyone has heard that expression. Maybe some of you have even said it before! It was an expression coined many years ago? Trust me, I was one of the people that said it back in the 60’s and 70’s.

Sorry! But some music just needs to be played loud! AND It really isn’t about a certain kind of music either. I know lots of Classical Music Fans that ‘cannot’ listen to the Overture of 1812 without hurting my ear drums! Their reply is often, “If it’s too loud you don’t understand the composition and the composer’s intent!”

People like to hear certain kinds of music! Why is that? Age has something to do with it! But Oldies are appreciated by lots of different ages! Is it a love song? Do women like it? Is it a Big Band tune Grampa danced to during WWII? Or is it a Pop favorite? Maybe the music help us to recall a memory? Does it inspire some kind of emotion in each of us? Sometimes it comes down to just “what you like” and there’s no explaining it!

As many of you know I spend a majority of my time at kite events as the Announcer and MC! Lots of people think I have the ‘Gift of gab,’ what ever that means. I guess I know a lot about kites and it comes easy for me to ‘pass along’ that knowledge via the PA system!

I also realized a long time ago that when spectators arrive at a kite event, the staff member that they hear most is the Announcer, and to be more precise they hear the sound system and what comes out over the speakers! As the Announcer you have a certain amount of control over the ‘civilians’ that come to watch the festival/competition. Some of that spectator control is ‘mandatory’ and you’ll make frequent safety announcements ‘Telling’ the spectators what to do and more importantly what Not to do!

At many kite festivals I’ve also come to realize that the music you play has a great deal of control over those spectators that arrive. As all of you know, if an Announcer is talking all the time, people tend to ‘tune them out’. So you’ll play a song or two and then make an announcement. Play a few more songs and then ‘Entertain, Inform or Amuse’ your kite audience with announcements, then back to the music!

I play a wide variety of kinds of music at a festival. I try to ‘appeal’ to ALL the spectators. Sometimes I’ll play something jazzy, or maybe something kite related! The Beatles, ‘For the Benefit of Mr. Kite’ is one of my favorites, but I also like to play Bobby Dariens, ‘Come fly with me!’ or ‘I’ve got the World on a String!’ It all comes down to the Announcer (Me) ‘trying to please the audience!’ So I do play an occasional Rap tune, or some popular Punk Rock song or even a Country Western Song once in a while! I don’t really like these kinds music myself, but I’ve had LOTS of people come up to me and tell me that they liked the selections of music I played!! You can’t please all of the people all of the time but you do have to look at the ‘target audience’ and hope they enjoy the music your playing.

Imagine a husband and wife (40 – 50ish) out for a summer drive and they happen across a kite festival.

“Hey Doris lets see what’s going on here?”

They arrive at the field and they see a multitude of kites. All kinds, shapes and description!

“Fred, this is amazing! I’ve never seen anything like this before?”

Over the PA system the announcer gives a few announcements.

“This is pretty interesting! Let’s get a hot dog and stick around for a while”

Then the Announcer punches the CD’s play button and the couple hears the music of Meat Loaf (or Marilyn Manson. or Twisted Sister – insert one!)

“No, we really have a lot to do, maybe we should go!”

Before everyone who likes the afore-mentioned groups gets up in arms. I have a couple of those groups’ albums and have at times played one or two songs at a festival! So this “Tangent” isn’t about certain types of music. If the same generic couple that arrived at the festival was 17 and the ‘Kite Song’ from Mary Poppins was playing they would say,

“This is boring – lets split!”

As that Announcer, I try to play music that both the older and the younger spectators will like. Sometimes it works, sometimes not! Does my music help the spectators to enjoy the festival a little more? Hopefully it does! Will they stick around longer at our kite events, simply because they like the music I play when I’m not announcing? I think so!

When I first started announcing many years ago I would accept music from fliers who would walk up to me and say, “Play this! All the fliers really like it” and I would!

I watched the spectators and I learned that some of this music would ‘clear a field’ of that above mentioned generic Older Couple (or the teenagers) in short order. I am pretty ‘possessive and selfish’ about the event sound system these days! I review music ‘volunteered’ to me before I stick it into the Event CD player. I know what ‘power’ that music has!

The idea of playing ‘varied’ kinds of music for a ‘target audience’ of festival spectators in the hopes of keeping them interested is even more difficult when you examine the Official AKA sanctioned Sport Kite Competition. During an official Ballet Competition the event has no control at all over what is played on the PA system.

Of course this is the way it’s supposed to be. The flier gets to choose the music they want to fly to, as long as it conforms to the IRBC rules book. (not vulgar, obscene, rude, political, etc.) Back in the early 90’s the AKA had a judging criteria that judged and awarded points to the actual music flown to. The AKA SK committee removed that rule a long time ago, and with good reason. ‘Flying to what you like to listen to’ is part of the Freedom involved in Official Sport Kite Competitions!

But on the other hand, I have been a part of SK Ballet judging panels who watches a flier’s routine to music ‘Personally Chosen’ and wonder to myself afterwards,

‘What were they thinking when the picked THAT music to fly to?’

If I wonder that same question and I KNOW what the contestant is actually trying to accomplish out on that competition field, what must the spectator think?

I’m not suggesting that the selection of official competition music be ‘censored, filtered, or controlled.’ Heaven Forbid – NO! BUT I believe the lack of control of the PA system during SK Ballet events is a problem when it comes to attracting spectators. They arrive at the field on a whim! They simply don’t like the music! They leave!

What can we do about that? Not much, and still maintain the freedom of choice involved in Sport Kite Competition Ballet rules and procedures. We really don’t need ‘Music Police’.

AND I’m not suggesting that the competitors do anything else but choose music to please themselves and their own ‘Target Audience’ which are the five judges standing right behind them!

I’m just reminding everyone that some people like certain kinds of music, and some people don’t.

Think about that when you ‘Pop’ a CD into the PA system at the next festival. Think about that when you fly a demo and you want applause from the spectators! Think about your choice of music if you want to keep people interested in what we’re doing out on the field. Think about it when you call ‘IN’ in front of those five judges! The best thing that could possibly happen is for someone walks up to you and say,

“It’s not LOUD enough, turn UP the music” Maybe the Volume doesn’t have anything to do with it after all?

One good story before I close concerning music and your ‘target audience’!

Several years ago my flying partner Vicki Romanoff and I volunteered to do a kite demo for a local kids Day Care center. The kids were between 5-7 years old! Vic and I flew Pairs Quad Kites to our usual music (Jazz, some SoundTracks, etc) The kids were ‘antsy’, the whole time, talking and fidgeting and they lost interest in what we were doing in about 3 minutes. After about 10 minutes we stopped and took a break. The kids were relieved that we were stopping and they could move around again!

As we were getting ready to return to the field to fly some more, one of the ladies from the center walked up to us and handed us a CD. She said, “Play this the kids will like it”

The CD was music and songs from the popular kids TV show – Barney!

Did the change of music help? I’m the first to admit that I’ve never flown a kite demo to music where the ‘target audience’ not only sang the words to our ‘flying music’ but they danced to it as well!

So with that in mind. It’s really important to – “Know your “Target Audience”

As we left the field I mentioned to Vicki that the kids seemed to pay more attention to our kite flying during the second set.

She looked at me and said, “I have to go to the bathroom. I think I’m gonna be sick!”

Good Winds,