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The Turning of the Page

The Turning of the Page

The Lafayette High School Band completed their season earlier this month. They went out with a bang — a perfectly-timed bang. You see, there was no phasing. A season’s worth of dedicated rehearsal with EncelaPulse paid off.

Listen for yourself…

Scotty Walker said, “It’s been pretty Awesome!!” But as I observed them on their last day of the season, I heard a new insight. An assistant director said,

“When it’s on, it’s perfect.”

Nothing else can do that but EncelaPulse, the only tool that perfectly-times metronome pulses to every musician on a field, anywhere on a field.

With Lafayette High School Band’s championship performance at the Louisiana Showcase of Marching Bands, EncelaPulse’s first year of beta testing came to a successful end.

Then came another, somewhat unexpected test.

While looking for a beta tester for this summer, EncelaPulse caught the attention of Chris Moore, director of both the Georgia Tech Marching Yellow Jacket Band and Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps.

Chris wanted to see if EncelaPulse could help a sequence in Tech’s traditional pregame show that has some built-in tempo and phasing challenges — just over 300 musicians, no drum major, facing the back field then the end zone, in a triple meter, and formed in an inversion of good staging. This crucible was but an opportunity for EncelaPulse to shine.

And shine, it did.

EncelaPulse did it’s job.

And so EncelaPulse’s next chapter begins. Stay tuned.

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The Beta Testing

How much time does your ensemble waste while cleaning phasing issues? How much of that time would be better spent accomplishing other more practical educational and/or competitive objectives?

EncelaPulse, the only full-field, objective, distance-compensating metronome, is looking to enter into an agreement with a pioneering DCI group for beta testing this summer. Together, we will help sharpen the cutting-edge of metronome techniques in the marching arts.

EncelaPulse will loan a four-speaker array and will provide brief training to staff and musicians on its revolutionary theory and rehearsal techniques.

Help change the paradigm, because it’s time, it’s time, and it’s time!

For questions, or to set up an informational meeting via Skype, email David A. Benoît at encelapulse@gmail.com.

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The Experience

The Fractured Pulse

What does EncelaPulse sound like with the met coming from multiple speakers?

Here is a clip of 8 lead-in clicks from a typical rehearsal rep with the Lafayette High School Band.

In this and the other video below, I was standing about midfield and at about the 30 yard line. The LHS Band is using a four-speaker array and the temperature was in the upper 80s.

First, the echo. One might think that the echo would be more cacophonous with four speakers pointing in the general direction of a concrete stadium and a metal softball field wall, which are visible in the video. But the echo in this rehearsal situation is about what it would be with the traditional and outdated one-speaker technique. In short, echo is usually not a problem.

But the pulse itself coming from multiple speakers; how does that sound? You will notice in the area of the field I am standing that all four speakers sound at almost the exact same time. At the rehearsal tower, the LHS Band’s sweet spot, the met pulses sound at exactly the same time, and so does the band, which is the entire point! For the front ensemble, the met pulses are almost perfectly synchronous. Hearing multiple pulses per beat becomes much more noticeable at larger distances from the rehearsal tower, particularly in the back corners of the field and close to any speaker.

Even with multiple pulses per beat, the students are able to lock into the first one they hear, which is the correct one. Any latent pulses, if heard, are easily ignored .

The Pedagogy

From the perspective of both the musicians and the staff, EncelaPulse is easy.

The musicians should be instructed to play with the first met pulse per beat they hear, then learn exactly when that met pulse happens in the drum major’s pattern. If they can precisely duplicate that timing when the metronome is off, their performance will arrive at the sweet spot with no phasing.

Easy, I say? Let me unpack that just a little.

The key here is EncelaPulse’s objectivity. What makes EncelaPulse easy, or at least easier than any other anti-phasing technique, is that the first pulse per beat is objectively correct. The guesswork on everyone’s part, musicians and staff alike, is not necessary.

Let’s also recognize that if the members don’t compensate for distance, an unphased performance is impossible. In other words, your musicians have to compensate anyway. They might as well use an accurate, distance-compensating metronome like EncelaPulse.

Let’s take a look at EncelaPulse in use with the LHS band. Notice where in the drum major’s pattern the heard met pulse occurs.

A rep with an EncelaPulse, four-speaker metronome. The battery percussion is just outside frame to the right.

The Conclusion

Teachers and students deserve tools and teaching techniques that provide an objectively correct metronome reference that compensates for the dawdling speed of sound and distances between musicians in significantly large and/or competitive programs.

With the right tools and instruction, students can learn to do this quickly and reliably.

EncelaPulse is the that right tool.

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The Graph

Time to get in the weeds, and when I say “weeds” I mean numbers.

I’ve added the following graph to the Purchase Speaker Hardware Bundles page. The graph aids in visualizing how increasing the number of well-placed metronome speakers drastically reduces relative delay between musicians. The following data showing percentages of a football field covered by ranges of relative delay is graphed.

1 Speaker 2 Speakers 3 Speakers 4 Speakers 5 Speakers 6 Speakers
<5 milli-seconds 9.01% 35.58% 51.61% 55.48% 65.89% 76.91%
5><20 milli-seconds 10.88% 35.58% 33.81% 29.35% 25.25% 20.99%
20><40 milli-seconds 11.98% 22.10% 13.70% 10.19% 6.42% 2.10%
>40 milli-seconds 68.13% 6.74% 1.33% 4.98.% 2.44% 0.00%

Here’s the graph.

relative delay chart

So what does all this mean?

Well first, a few caveats. Like the data on the Purchase Hardware page, these data assume:

  • an air temperature of 82 F, *
  • a sweet spot on the 50 yard line and 56 feet forward of the front sideline, and
  • an arc width of 114 degrees. **

Generally this means that more speakers increase overall speaker array performance, particularly on the parts of the field where the musicians play — the power zone.

If you take a close look at the numbers in each delay range, the numbers do not necessarily change linearly. This is partly due to how much space on or beyond a practice field is available or necessary for odd numbers vs. even numbers of speakers. So generally, the further away we can place the speakers, the better the array performance. I should mention here that Anchor Audio speaker volume is not to be worried about. Their speakers are plenty loud and can easily overwhelm the largest marching ensembles for rehearsal on the field.

This shows that the current technique of placing one speaker right behind the battery dramatically increases relative delay on the field as demonstrated in the following example from the 2013 Cavaliers program.

2017-10-04 11.38.47.jpg
2013 Cavaliers blocking.

This moment from the 2013 Cavaliers is pretty close to a worst-case scenario. Rehearsing with a metronome placed just behind the bass drums, the current technique, leaves the trumpet players in the far-right corner of the field with more than a 10th of a second delay as demonstrated in the following model.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 15.18.06.png
A portion of a football field with the above staging highlighted mapping the relative delay in milliseconds from musicians standing in 4 step by 4 step grid cells playing exactly with one metronome speaker placed at the red A to a person standing on the red x . ***

I can customize a speaker placement coordinate set for a specific section of drill where the blocking (staging) is particularly challenging like this. Such a speaker placement set would provide a teachable, objective metronome reference that reduces relative delay to less than five thousandths of a second for every marching musician on the field.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 19.24.52.png
A portion of a football field with the above staging highlighted mapping the relative delay in milliseconds from musicians standing in 4 step by 4 step grid cells playing exactly with six metronome speakers per the EncelaPulse technique.

 

Our students deserve this.

Let’s take a look at the relative delay for a three-speaker array.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 09.24.47.png
A portion of a football field mapping the relative delay in milliseconds to a person standing on the 50 yard line and 56 feet forward of the front sideline with on-field musicians playing exactly with three metronome speakers per the EncelaPulse technique.

Notice that with only three well-placed speakers, more than half the field has a delay of less than five millisecond (that’s less than 5 thousandths of a second), and most of that area is inside the 20s and forward of the back hash.

A six-speaker array greatly increases the less than 5 and less than 20 millisecond areas of relative delay.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 08.50.53

Anyone who made it this far is a true geek, a real trooper, or some combination of both. Many thanks to you. I welcome your respectful comments and questions.

In conclusion…

My thesis is that the current metronome techniques are inadequate and outdated because they do not provide proper phase adjustment due to distances between musicians. I believe EncelaPulse is a reasonably practical and affordable way to provide students with teachable, objective, metronome pulses that correct for distances between musicians.

* Higher air temperatures reduce relative delay. Lower temperatures increase relative delay. Barometric pressure has no effect on relative delay.

** The sweet spot distance and arc width are what the Lafayette High School Band is currently (fall of 2017) using. Their rehearsal tower is about 56 feet from the front sideline. They are marching 64 winds and 64 brass with additional battery percussion and sousaphones. Their drill design covers almost the whole field. There is no arc coverage with only one speaker.

*** For modeling relative delay I modified a spreadsheet created by Steven Finn, a solid friend, musician, and engineer at any temperature. Each cell is 4 steps by 4 steps. Field markings run through the middle of the cells. College hashes are depicted, and an area for the front ensemble between the 20s is included. The number in each cell shows the relative delay from musicians standing in that cell to a person standing in the sweet spot. The musicians standing in the cells marked “0” will sound first, musicians standing in non-zero cells will sound that many milliseconds later.

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Gratitude

LHS with Speaker 2017-09-29 18.00.36 HDR

I feel an immense sense of gratitude for two things in my hometown, Lafayette, LA — my mother, and the Lafayette High School Band.

The Bandoree, a marching band festival sponsored by the LHS Band, was this weekend.  I didn’t want to miss such a prime opportunity to set up EncelaPulse for success.

EncelaPulse finished the summer in a strong headwind. The Louisiana Stars Drum & Bugle Corps returned the equipment saying that they did not like it and did not want to use it next summer. I hadn’t heard from them all summer. As it turned out, no news was not good news.

But in August I handed the speakers off to a very enthusiastic Scotty Walker at LHS, and hoped for the best. Weeks went by with no word. This time no news was indeed good news. They love it. “It’s like it’s always been here!” said one staff member. The students alike get it, and like it. With LHS, the wind is now strongly at EncelaPulse’s back. The beta testing is back on track.

But before the Bandoree, my mother put her embroidery machines in action. (The plural is correct. She has more than one!) After much handwringing over the logo design, she was able to embroider it onto some really nice shirts. Looking the part, I was then ready to schmooze some at LHS Band’s Bandoree.

I spoke with band directors, staff, and judges and continued to hear “intriguing” a lot.

Pricing for speaker packages and coordinate sets are on encelpulse.com. Your questions are free! encelapulse@gmail.com is the place to send them. I want to hear what you want to know.

Embroidered shirts 2017-09-29 09.10.53

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A Feather in the Cap

EncelaPulse has flown the coop and the 2017 Louisiana Stars have taken to it like ducks to water. Phasing errors will be scarcer than hen’s teeth. The new metronome is as true as the crow flies. The “speed” of sound, or so its called, is no longer an albatross around their neck.

The hens of the old technique will eat crow over their ugly duckling. Its swan song is mid-cadence. I am as proud as a peacock. The days of winging it are over. The old way is for the birds. EncelaPulse has taken aim at the sitting duck and shall soon rule the roost.

EncelaPulse is now under the wing of the Louisiana Stars and I am happy as a lark, proud as a peacock. The geese and the goslings are heaping praise. My chickens have hatched and I am counting them. Let’s talk turkey.

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The Beginning

EncelaPulse is here!

And it’s about time. Since I first realized the mechanics of the problem while marching in the Cavaliers Color Guard in 1993, I have pondered it. Then I imagined a solution — an objective solution. Twenty years later, no one was really solving the problem caused by distance between musicians.

After two successful alpha tests, validation continues as the Louisiana Stars Drum and Bugle Corps from Lafayette, LA, beta test EncelaPulse.

Stay tuned for reports from tour, and watch this space for the introductory line of intellectual property and Anchor Audio’s perfectly-matched line of wireless speakers.

Met On.

David A. Benoît, Founder and Operator of EncelaPulse

(Thanks to Craig Cagle and the students of the Mortimer Jordan High School Band in Kimberly, AL, Scotty Walker and the students of the Lafayette High School Band in Lafayette, LA, Dr. Elena Hogrefe, Dr. Brian Taylor, and Russell Meyer for their support and invaluable help with the alpha testing.)