Amplify the Melody (Issue 1040)

In which we are reminded that our proposals should emphasize one or two ideas clearly to ensure clients can hear them.

Just to the north of Harvard Yard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, sits a U.S. National Historic Landmark, Memorial Hall, a High Victorian Gothic building constructed to honor Harvard men’s defense of the Union during the Civil War. Completed and gifted to the University in 1878, the building includes Annenberg Hall (now used for Freshman dining), the Memorial Transept (in which are engraved the names of Harvard’s Civil War dead), and Sanders Theater, a 1,000-seat hall used for lectures (Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. among them), University ceremonies, and concerts, the last of which include annual Fall and Spring performances by two of Harvard’s many A Capella ensembles, the Harvard Din & Tonics and the Radcliffe Pitches. And so, in their company, we found ourselves last Friday night.

We have attended Dins and Pitches Fall and Spring concerts since 2010. I think we’ve missed one in that time. They sing Great American Songbook favorites and modern jazz and popular songs. Their members refresh as seniors graduate and their concert programs evolve slowly over time.

However…There has been one BIG change recently – the Covid-driven shift to individual hand-held microphones rather than two or three floor microphones for the ensembles. This leads to the challenge of sound mixing during live performances with 13 “live” microphones on stage.

For both groups, on Friday night, despite terrific set lists and high-energy performing that earned them standing ovations at the end, the soloists were often overpowered by backing ensemble parts. “It seems,” said one of my friends, “that the sound mixer turns the soloists’ microphones DOWN when they step forward rather than bringing them up and backing off the others.”

Agreed. Too many voices singing multiple parts at equal volumes. The soloists’ melodies and words faded in and out of tight ensemble harmonies, distinguishable and then not. Too many auditory parts to follow. Frustrating.

Worth remembering when we write proposals or recommend ideas or services to clients: While mixing in the supporting parts, amplify the melody main point so it is distinct and clear throughout, start to finish.

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at .

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