December 5, 2005

PIT PODS (via Robert Schwartz):

It's no good if you can't dance to it (Matthew Westwood, December 02, 2005, the Australian)

LIKE elsewhere in the Australian work force, an industrial revolution is happening in the pit of the Sydney Opera House. Under a new interpretation of WorkCover rules, players in the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra can't be exposed to sound levels higher than 85 decibels averaged over a day.

This will have implications for orchestral music generally, but its immediate impact is being felt on, of all things, the Australian Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. To avoid any one musician being exposed to excessive sound, the orchestra is working with relay teams of extra musicians: four separate horn sections, four of clarinets, four of flutes, and so on. The orchestra that begins a particular performance isn't necessarily the same one that finishes it.

It's a logistical nightmare and an expensive one, adding $100,000 to the ballet's production costs. And all this for a score as lyrical and romantic as Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, never mind the noisily modernist Rite of Spring.

Why not just keep them in sensory deprivation tanks other than during show time?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 5, 2005 7:39 PM

You couldn't make this up.

(I'm surprised they haven't applied this to the military yet. btw).

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 5, 2005 8:44 PM

This is not surprising. As a soundman in a previous life, I discovered that hearing problems are much more common among orchestra musicians than among rock-and-roll bands because of the long hours spent at extremely high sound levels (sometimes over 115 db in the pit).

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2005 10:17 PM

Can't they just wear earplugs?

Posted by: Mike Earl at December 5, 2005 10:56 PM

In this age, satire is entirely useless. Reality can no longer be satired.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 6, 2005 1:28 AM

Many violinists do where an earplug, but a soloist wears it only in his left ear and only for practice. You'd be surprised how loud a good violin is.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 6, 2005 4:44 AM
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