We can so easily become consumed by a stage performance and overlook how much effort and magic goes into the art of lighting a performance. Some have custom crafted images as a backdrop, some have timed lighting and some even have pyrotechnics. Let's explore.
First and foremost, this is one of those artistic elements where you really need to attempt to not draw too much from those live concerts that you've seen that made you forever indebted to the experience that legend on stage gifted to you. Some of that experience was the music, some was the energy of the crowd, some was from the lighting and stage theatrics and some from that always mysterious, inexplicable magic that surrounds music itself. Now, the reason why it’s important to avoid getting a little too fan-happy and create a mirror image of the moments that really changed your perspective is because in order to carve out your own space - you have to sometimes go full rogue and start from scratch.
This is where lighting your stage will become another reflection of your work as an artist. If you don’t take a bit of precaution in attempting to be unique, lighting can be underwhelming and the beautiful aspects of it can be overlooked and underused. Have you ever noticed how stage lighting really takes the room to the next level? So, what's the history of this story anyway?
Some stories that are from our favorite Wikipedia, include the history on just where stage lighting came from “The earliest known form of stage lighting was during the early Grecian (and later the Roman) theaters. They would build their theatres facing east to west so that in the afternoon they could perform plays and have the natural sunlight hit the actors, but not those seated in the orchestra.” So, interestingly enough, nature was actually the first method of stage lighting. Who would have thought!?
The mood is the key element that we all should focus on here. Lighting doesn’t need to be completely insane, switching drastically moment to moment, however it should support the feeling and ambiance that you’re looking to convey with your sound. Do you prefer to have a clean-cut, calm musical experience for your listeners? Or, would you moreso prefer to have many of your individual notes and motifs accented by deliberate strikes via visuals? If you aren’t sure, we highly recommend dabbling into both.
Now, we know that stage lighting can become incredibly expensive, as the highest quality and most reliable brands are often not exactly budget friendly, however if you are sure that you take care in the condition of your equipment and treat your lights just like you would that sentimental six string you’ve got, then it will be well worth the investment. If you’re still in the beginning stages of figuring out exactly how you’d like lights to be incorporated into your live show, consider starting simple, even if it’s just two tiny colored lights on stage or perhaps even a projector with a few images that you believe reflect your music on loop.
Let us touch on the five key aspects of stage lighting. These often include front lights, side lighting, high side lighting, backlighting and down lights. Each of these highlights a special aspect of the performer and the stage around them. The front lights are usually the primary source of lighting for the audience, as it is able to hush the world around the stage and truly put a special spotlight on the matter at hand, the art, the music, the experience.
Be sure to visit us again in the coming weeks, as we dive even deeper into this art form that is often overlooked among us musicians. The art of stage lighting can truly elevate your creation to an entire new level that you never knew you could partake in. Just a little bit of effort, a lot a bit of reading and a few financial investments can go a long way in keeping your live shows at the forefront of creative innovation. Stick with us and stay tuned.