Sinfonia® is an extremely sophisticated and expressive orchestra enhancement system. Depending on the show you are producing, you may know Sinfonia® as OrchExtra® or InstrumentalEase®. These are brand names under which Sinfonia® is marketed by Music Theatre International and Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatricals. This documentation will always refer to Sinfonia®. But regardless of the name, the technology gives a production of any size the sound of a full, lush orchestra without sacrificing any of the spontaneity of live performance. The new downloadable version of Sinfonia® gives you all the functionality of the traditional Sinfonia® system, with the added convenience of running the software from your own equipment.
Before We Begin...
Sinfonia® gives a lot of power and flexibility to organizations that are putting on musicals. With Sinfonia®, you can control a full orchestral sound in real-time, manipulating tempo on the fly to follow the action on stage, just like a real orchestra would. If you wish, you can augment an existing small ensemble, customizing Sinfonia® to perform only the missing instruments. You can also change keys for alternate performers, make cuts, repeats, react to typical live performance emergencies and more.
However, all this power and flexibility makes Sinfonia® an involved and sophisticated piece of technology. Sinfonia® is not a “push-button orchestra” or a "backing track". Instead, think of it like you would any other musical instrument. You need to spend some time learning its fundamentals, and you need to practice the actual music that will be performed.
Any musician who wants to. The basic principles of operation are quite easy and can be learned in a day or two. Once the principles are learned, the quality of the Sinfonia® performance is in direct proportion with the Sinfonia® player’s innate musicianship and the time spent practicing. 15-year-old high school students with only a few years of flute lessons have performed Sinfonia® beautifully, as well as professional opera conductors, and everyone in between. The most important thing is to have some basic musicianship and a willingness to learn and practice. That said, we have outlined a few prerequisites we think will make for the happiest, most successful Sinfonia® experience.
- You must be a musician.
- You must be willing to work with technology.
- You must devote time to Sinfonia®.
Sinfonia® is a new musical instrument. While it does not require the years of training for mastery that, say, a piano or violin demands, you should be familiar with the basic vocabulary of music. You should be able to follow along with a musical score and understand concepts of meter and tempo.
Sinfonia® does not require computer or related technology experience. You simply need a willingness to learn and work with things that are new and on the cutting edge. Those with prior technology experience tend to embrace the potential more readily, and therefore may pick it up faster. But, if you have never touched a computer before, don’t be intimidated by Sinfonia®. Go at it with a sense of adventure, invest some time, and you’ll be a pro before you know it! Which brings us to the next point…
You don’t need a lot of time, but there should be at least a few days away from the pressures of rehearsal for the Sinfonia® player to familiarize him or herself with how it works. As with anything new, there may be initial confusions. The player needs some quiet time and space to get a basic understanding of the instrument. Once the foundation is there, the more time spent practicing Sinfonia®, the better.
For starters, we want to establish an environment that will keep everything running smoothly throughout your performances. If certain points seem inconvenient, please bear in mind: it’s better to put in the extra effort upfront than risk a situation that may compromise a performance or damage your equipment. In the long run, we believe you’ll find this attention to detail is relatively easy to accomplish and completely worth it.
Important Technical Considerations
Before setting up Sinfonia®, please carefully review the following considerations:
Electrical Considerations – Very Important
Sinfonia® must have its own dedicated, clean power source. Do not, for example, put Sinfonia® on a power strip with other non-Sinfonia® electrical devices. Music stand lights, especially ones with dimmers, are notorious for corrupting electrical signal. Please keep these (and all other devices) on a separate circuit. If you are unsure, talk with your theatre’s electrician to confirm that Sinfonia® has its own clean power source on a dedicated circuit. Failure to abide by this may severely damage the Sinfonia® equipment.
Electronics and computer components are, by their nature, sensitive. Typically, any problem that might occur is apt to happen during transit. Therefore, we recommend keeping movement of your Sinfonia® setup to a minimum. Please set up the Sinfonia® on a flat, stable work surface where it can remain in one place for as long as possible. If you anticipate needing to move Sinfonia® frequently during your run, consider putting it on a wheeled cart or some other device that will allow easy transport without much stress.
If the MIDI (piano) keyboard will be on the same surface as the computer, the surface should be strong enough to withstand any vibrations that may occur naturally during the playing of the keyboard. A light, fold-up card table, for example, might be problematic; if the Sinfonia® player plays the keyboard with force, the table may bounce around – causing cables to dislodge or damaging equipment.
Also, please keep all components on a clear, uncluttered surface with ample playing space. This will minimize the risk of buttons or keys getting accidentally pushed.
The equipment should be set up in such a way so as to give the Sinfonia® player a clear sightline to the Conductor. If the Sinfonia® player is also conducting, the equipment should be set up so as to give clear sightlines to the stage and other musicians.