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We are an acoustic band. However, to balance different volume levels, we use amplification. We see no contradiction in this. It gives us the freedom to use arrangements that work, are very much the kind of sound people expect to hear these days, but do not work at all without amplification.
For example: imagine a female voice, accompanied by fingerpicked guitar and fiddle, singing a gentle song like Kate Rusby's Falling (which we do). Play it without amplification, and it works if you sit right in front of the band. From the middle or side of the audience, you lose the guitar because it simply isn't as loud as the other two. A bit further out, and the voice fades too. It's just physics (the law of inverse squares, to be exact).
To get round it, we amplify the voice and guitar so that all three sounds are at similar levels. Only in the largest venues would we amplify the fiddle (and/or melodeon). The result is that the whole audience hears all three musical lines correctly, without anything being louder than the unamplified fiddle.
We totally understand and respect "no amplification" policies. Bass guitars and amplified drumkits can rattle the china three houses away. That's not us. We're not about volume, we're about quality and balance. Even if you're "acoustic only", don't write us off.
We'll use your PA if it's up to it, or supply our own.
We need a stage for a big audience, but we'll play on the level too if the venue suits it. We have played on everything from some boards nailed to some old pallets right up to a proper proscenium stage, and been fine on all of them. There are only two things we really need: an area AT LEAST three metres by two metres, preferably more, and an electricity supply. We don't need fancy lighting, but it's nice to have enough light to see us. A roof is good, too: we have played outdoors, but we're not keen. British weather...
WHY WE DO IT:
Live music is a funny old business, when you think. What would a Martian make of it - a small group of people making rhythmic and harmonious sounds for a few minutes, followed by a larger group of people banging their hands together. Inexplicable.
In her novel Restoration (1989) Rose Tremain gives as good an explanation as I have ever seen of why at least one quarter of Quarto does it. Her hero Robert Merivel has lost his place at the court of Charles II, and gone to work at a remote lunatic asylum. The place is run on (for the times) very enlightened lines. Robert plays the oboe, another of the wardens is a fiddler, so they organise a concert/dance for the inmates, attempting an early form of music therapy. It works: everyone there enjoys it. And then, as the concert ends, comes this paragraph:
I have never seen nor heard nor been any part of any thing that was like this hour. And when it was over and we stopped playing and wiped our faces, I felt for the briefest moment of time that I was no longer merely myself, no longer Merivel, nor even Robert, but joined absolutely in spirit to every man and woman there, and I wanted to make a circle with my arms and take them in.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we play.
WHY WE DO IT (PART TWO):
Here's another quotation about the real meaning of music, this time from Ian McEwan's excellent novel Saturday (2005):
There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself.
The idea that music can be a briefly open window on a better world could seem exaggerated, particularly when you think of the relatively simple and unsophisticated stuff that we play. We are a long way from J.S.Bach. And yet, and yet... Now and then, everything comes magically together in a wholly unpredictable way, and even if we can't fully open the window, Quarto at least manage to wipe the dirt and condensation from the pane for a few seconds. It feels like that for me, anyway.
Quarto, the Pembrokeshire folk band, sing and play contemporary and traditional songs and tunes. Our repertoire includes everything from old favourites to our own material and from rousing singalongs to delicate ballads. We can play for your concert, for your wedding, your banquet or any other special occasion. We can be the focus of attention or the background music. Our instruments are fiddles, guitars, melodeon (diatonic button accordion), mandolins and whistle.
contact [@] quartofolk.com