Stage plots are diagrams that illustrate the order in which instruments and other audio equipment will be arranged during stage performances. They are important for a number of reasons. Just as carefully planned stage plots can have a wide range of benefits, failing to plan and execute them can negatively impact your performance.
For new musicians, choosing the right setup can feel overwhelming, but the more familiar you become with band members and their unique playing styles, the easier it will be to find a setup that works. Taking time to familiarize yourself with a few widely used plot templates can help in understanding which ones might be useful.
Stage Plots Provide Organization
Stage plots are not just for the band. They provide a blueprint for everyone involved in the setup process. It provides the ground work and can be one of the most important factors when judging the overall success of your event.
Sound engineers need to know where musicians will be positioned in order to determine which tools each one will require for the best possible performance. The size and composition of the venue plays a role in shaping the sound, which means equipment may need to be tailored to fit the band’s musical style.
Layouts That Improve Sound
For the engineer, understanding each musician’s function is crucial. For visibility and mobility purposes, a lead singer might need his or her microphone positioned at the front of the stage. And chances are an experienced drummer will want several microphones arranged around his or her drum set for a full and accurate sound.
Always keep in mind, what you hear onstage may be vastly different from the sound pouring out into the crowd. Whatever streams through the monitors should be as crisp as possible because it may deeply impact each performer’s confidence in his or her sound.
Be Detail Oriented
Stage plots should be detailed and absolutely comprehensive. Like pieces of a puzzle, every component matters. If a keyboard player will be switching between multiple racks or a guitar player will be using acoustic as well as electric guitars, that information should be included in the layout.
The fewer the surprises the less time you’ll spend making adjustments during space you’ve allotted for checking sound. If you are traveling to a new concert venue, you’ll be building your setup from scratch. Taking care of as many pre-production tasks as possible before you arrive can help reduce unnecessary stress.
Make sure your layout is concise and not convoluted with trivial details that have little to no bearing on the performance. This is particularly important if you plan to share the stage with other bands. The engineer’s time is valuable, and the easier your setup is to understand the more accurately it can be translated to the stage. It should be well thought out, but no more or less detailed than necessary.
Be specific when listing the various instruments included in your set. You will need to add their input types to ensure the right cables are available. If you have a drummer, list the number of cymbals that will be used. Cables are essential to every band’s performance, but they can also be distracting if they become disheveled during the event.
That’s why it’s important to know (ahead of time) how they will need to be organized. Although computer-generated stage plots are aesthetically pleasing, a sketch will work just as well, as long the various components are labeled and distinct from one another. A few of the items that typically show up on stage plots are :
- Instruments (if a musician will be using more than one version of the same instrument, be sure to notate it)
- Electronic components such as Di boxes, pedalboards, samplers, etc
The list can be much longer. It all depends on the size of the band and the various roles each musician will be undertaking. Just remember, everything should be positioned in a way that enhances its performance onstage. During rehearsals, think about what works and what doesn’t and plan to draft your stage plot accordingly.