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What's In A Name?

May 24, 20232 min read

Seems like HTMA members often get asked “What kind of music do you play?”

That turns out to be something of a poser, at least for me. HTMA is the Huntsville Traditional Music Association. Do we play traditional music? Sure we do, at least some of the time. But there are a couple difficulties with that general statement. First off, just what do we mean by “traditional”. Second, are we limited to traditional music, however that gets to be defined?

The answer to the second question is easy. HTMA members play all sorts of tunes. At the most recent member meeting and jam session, I heard members playing a Carter Family tune, a blues number, one by Hank Williams Sr, and a James Taylor tune. Is any of that traditional? Well, you tell me.

Recently I heard a proposal to rename HTMA to the Huntsville Acoustic Music Association, or something similar. I have to agree that most members seem to favor acoustic instruments, but I wonder if that sort of re-branding might make some of us uncomfortable. For years now almost every artist we showcase has been plugged in to a greater or lesser extent. They might be playing an acoustic guitar, an autoharp, or a fiddle, but most of the folks who grace our stage plug in.

There are probably as many reasons for the decision to plug in as there are musicians, but the general context is that plugging in can make the performance somewhat less challenging for the performer, particularly for a singer, but also for the sound engineer. That’s because microphone management when playing an acoustic instrument is a demanding job. Get too close and maybe the guitar strings rattle against the microphone, too far away and no one in the audience can hear your instrument.

Microphone management on stage requires precision on the part of both sound engineer and performer – the difference between a fiddle six inches from the microphone and one three or four inches closer is huge. It’s not just the spacing that matters. The way the instrument is pointed can make an enormous difference. Professional sound engineers put a ton of effort into understanding the optimum microphone selection, positioning, etc. A microphone directly above a fiddle can sound pretty good, while the same microphone pointing at the side of the same instrument is likely to produce pretty unflattering sounds.

I’l like to hear from readers – how would you describe the music you play? And would anyone like to propose a brand new name for the Association? Maybe Huntsville Musical Hackathon?

To read the Summer / Spring 2023 Newsletter click here.

Best Regards,

Jerry LeCroy

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Jerry LeCroy

Jerry LeCroy: Publications / HTMA Past President

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This program has been made possible by a 2024 Arts & Cultural Grant from Arts Huntsville funded by the City of Huntsville.

501C Ruling: The IRS has recognized the Huntsville Traditional Music Association as a tax exempt non-profit corporation, under section 501.c3 of Internal Revenue Code, effective August 25, 2006. Your charitable donations to help us continue our mission of maintaining a folk and traditional music presence in the Tennessee Valley are both appreciated and tax deductible.

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