PA system isn’t for instruments


To the Editor:
I found Eleanor Kiel’s article, “Vatican II embraced the role of sacred music in liturgy” very interesting. I have had the opportunity since retiring to travel around the country. In my travels I have been attending Mass in different parts of the country, northeast to the southwest and southeast to the northwest and places in be­tween. What I have found that concerns me is the way the newer electronic instruments are used. It seems that for some reason or other they need to be connected into the public address system. It’s unfortunate!
For example, one can barely hear or understand the cantors as they lead the congregation in the singing of the responsorial psalm and hymns. With acoustical instruments, i.e. pianos for example, the “soft” pedal could be used to soften the accompaniment. If you look up the definition of “accompaniment” you will find the definition to read something like: a part designed to serve as background and support for more important parts.
Or is it that the accompanist feels more like a soloist? However, when the electronic piano is plugged into the PA system, the volume is over powering. It wouldn’t surprise me if the loud vibrations in situations like this aren’t damaging the church structures. I am sure that the electronic instruments have their own amplifiers that can be adjusted at the instruments’ locations.
In closing, I have observed parishioners who actually jum­ped when the instruments went on to the public address system.
John Ihle

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1 thought on “PA system isn’t for instruments

  1. My guess would be that the real problem is one that I have encountered for years as a Church Musician i.e, when churches are constructed, renovated, or musicians are acquired with new instrumentation, new directors, etc., no one ever consults musicians as to what their acoustical needs really are – in some cases, this needs an actual sound acoustics person as a consultant. Most musicians that I know of are forced to play, sing, make music with a sound system designed so the congregation can understand the homily, the priest celebrant, and the announcements. Microphones, speakers, and sound boards different than a speaking microphone are necessary to produce good music. Most priests, parishes, congregations believe that no money needs to be spent on special equipment. The liturgy suffers, the musicians suffer, and the congregations suffer – but they all blame it on the musicians. Just sayin’ !

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