Updated: Oct 19

A question about ambience sparks some reflections from long ago and reminds me how I made a memorable contribution to World Champion Kurt Browning's career.


I first visited to watch as my mother and father trained their Ice Dance charges from the amazing academy they had built in Altrincham Ice Rink. I then skated many times in the British Ice Dance Championships at Nottingham Ice Stadium in England.

After each Championship I would go up the stairway and stand in the empty Arena. I loved the atmosphere for some reason. I have never wondered why before today. Then a friend questioned me on it. It prompted my NICKSTIR to a lyric - CROWDS GONE. It also prompted some stories to come to mind.


I grew up ice dancing, I didn't realise then that Ice Rinks are in many ways acoustic nightmares with a hard floor that sound bounces off and irregular shaped domed tops and sides.

So to project sound for a concert is extremely difficult. Why? Well because the sound you project from speakers is bounced around. The audience can then hear a muffled result. This is when you're hearing different bits of the source sound many times slightly offset from one another. in particular the bass can be a problem with reverb.

I experienced this scenario here in Kelowna a week ago at a concert. It's a 6,000 seater arena. We had Muddy Sound, couldn't hear what the singer was singing. But then, buy better seat tickets and you'll be closer to the front Slater - indeed. That might do it. or fill speakwers would have helped, but then rigging and hiring costs go up.


Whilst this reflection of sound for a band can be awful, for a single instrument like a piano is brilliant. Why so? Well you get lots of echoes and reverberation all over the place. Some echoes are long some shorter, they layer. All this mixes in the air. It creates, for me, a beautiful ambience. Music Producers and performers introduce Shimmer to create this type of effect. I think it's becasue there isn't so much noise as a rock band creates, for example. There is more clarity i the first instance and the variance of resonance that occurs adds to the overall sound making it bigger.


I'm reminded of being in Northern Ireland at an Ice Arena we were doing a show in I was producing. My we had some tales from that one. But - the point is - Susie Jackson was out on the ice in her lovely white skating outfit as a Swan.

She was skating to the music On Golden Pond. A Piano piece. Before we brought the single spotlight up on her I went out with a little smoke machine and skated around her imitating the quack quack of a duck. Susie just about managed to get over her giggles as the music started, spotlight gently opened and she skated a breath taking routine. Reverb tails everywhere adding to the atmospherics. i didn't know it then I just appreciate the sound, adn the beautiful skating of course.


Oh yes and Kurt Browning and Co stitched me up at that event. I started my Charlie Chaplin routine (which I skated in oversized ice hockey boots to make it more difficult to skate nicely ) by opening my huge Learn To Skate Prop book.