The soft, sweet, infinitely soothing sound of the flute, with its delicate phrasing and gentle pacing may seem worlds away from the growling intensity of metal music, but both are guided by passion. And, under the right circumstances, the power of that passion can be amplified by lighting.
Chris Brodman, Cody Lisle and the creative team at LIT Live! demonstrated this recently when they produced “Tribal Flute,” a 56-minute livestream by noted flutist Keenan Perry. Although it was radically different in style from their usual metal and EDM fare, the LIT Live! crew supported Perry’s performance, with visuals that wrapped themselves seamlessly around his ethereal music.
Working with a studio rig that was anchored by CHAUVET Professional Maverick MK2 Spot, Rogue R2 Wash and Rogue R1 Wash fixtures, lighting designer Jack Watson created a diverse mix of colors and gobo patterns that reflected Perry’s music (which featured the artist playing other instruments in addition to the flute), in all its wistful complexity.
“Keenan’s music is much more melodic and slower than what we usually do,” said Watson. “Going into programming, I knew that my main focus would be to create interesting looks and scenes and avoid flashy effects or fast movements.”
Although he stayed away from rapid pan tilt motions, Watson did rely on aerial effects from the 10 Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures on mid-stage and upstage truss to capture the mood of the flute performance. “The MK2 Spots were definitely my stars,” he said. “We used them to create beautiful textures in the air that helped me compliment the deep nature of Keenan’s music.”
“Colors also played a very important role in giving me ways to reflect the feelings that Keenan was conveying,” continued Watson. “This music was very emotional, and in my opinion, colors are the most powerful tool for conveying human emotions.”
As an example of how he matched the colors to the music, Watson recalled lighting “Wish You Were Here,” the Pink Floyd classic. “About halfway into the set, Keenan did this cover,” he said. “The look I had was a very simplistic blue with a dimmer effect, but it complemented his performance well. Working with the effects that were being overlaid on top of the stream by Dakota Gidley, our VJ, it really was beautiful.”
Watson relied on a broad palette of colors, from soft pastel shades to bold primaries, to convey the heartfelt contemplative nature of Perry’s music. Most of these colors were provided by the Rogue R1 Wash units he arranged along the back and side of the performance area, as well as the R2 Washes that were flown on mid and upstage truss.
Speaking of the truss positions, he noted: “Were the show to have been before a live audience, I would probably swap the upstage towers with the side towers. Then I’d take the side towers and open them up towards the audience to create a more open shape. Keenan’s music needs room to spread its wings and fly us away on his magical flute journey.”
Elevating music and endowing it with even more power to take us on new journeys is at the heart of the LIT Live! design philosophy, regardless of whether it’s for a monster guitar lick, or the delicate effervescent sound of a flute.