We all know that the three measures of sound quality are fidelity, intelligibility and loudness – but what are the true measures of those measures? After all, we’ve often talked about the subjective nature of good sound – so as you consider improving, replacing or rebuilding your church’s sound system, what standards can you apply?

Here, we tap the expertise of Joseph De Buglio, author and audio consultant who has evaluated over 500 churches in North America. Discovering that less than 4% of them were pleased with their sound, he developed The Highly Intelligible Sound System Standard – or HIS System – for achievable standard setting in any house of worship.

If your church is introducing contemporary worship into what has been a traditional setting – or – if you’re already striking up the praise band, we’ve solicited the advice of an expert to offer some practical guidance.

Carl Albrecht, a professional drummer for over 30 years, is an accomplished session man and producer, having worked with a wide range of Christian and pop artists, a group diverse enough to include LeAnn Rimes, John Tesh and many Integrity Music artists. He will join Shure this year, leading workshops at Seminars4Worship.

In Part I of our series on drums in worship, we asked Carl to talk to us about praise and performance.

Let’s get right down to it. Nearly 30 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. And according to the American Academy of Audiology, about 17 million suffer from “nerve deafness” – a hearing loss that results from exposure to loud noise or music.

Around 15% of baby boomers, the first generation to crank up the volume, have this type of hearing loss – about the same percentage as their teenage children.

Just 15 minutes of exposure to high-decibel noise or music can cause permanent hearing loss. That’s right. Permanent. Research indicates that 30% of rock musicians have a measurable hearing loss. Classical musicians fare even worse - with up to 52% experiencing hearing impairment. That means that members of your praise band, your harpist, your worshippers and your sound crew are all at risk. The good news? Hearing loss can be prevented.

The most common and controversial question drummers hear is, “Can you play softer?” Drum volume is one of the biggest issues with bands, especially in church and ministry settings. It is the most controversial because opinions are very strong concerning expressing yourself musically and spiritually while trying to keep the volume lower. Musicians often feel like they’re being stifled by restrictions placed on them because of their acoustic environments. Well today my friends I will give you the answer to this problem. STOP PLAYING DRUMS!!! ...Of course I’m just kidding. So, let’s talk.

If you are taking on the role of music director then you need a working knowledge of the instruments you are directing, and some idea of how to get your team members to make a good sound together. Of the three main ësectionsí of your band - vocals, rhythm section and solo instruments - the rhythm section is the foundation of your sound, and is therefore a good place to start.

Clearly space doesnít permit us to go into great detail over every instrument that might make up a rhythm section, but we can look at some basic musical principles which can then be applied to your own particular combination of instruments. (...)

© G. Baltes / T. Schröder

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