Danish theatre sound design and production company, Tone Art, was formed just over a year ago, but founders Tim Høyer and Peter Løvenhardt have a much longer association with the genre and have set a style for Danish musical theatre productions.
“The primary objective of our company is not just to produce a multitude of shows; it’s about delivering experiences that excel both technically and creatively, consistently striving to push the boundaries of sound design,” says Høyer. “The only way to achieve this is by having a great team, and continuously educating ourselves on emerging trends and technologies and avoiding the pitfalls of getting stuck in a routine where what we do remains the same as the world around us evolves.”
The team Høyer refers to includes Jonas Jørgensen and Jeppe Søndergaard, and their experience encompasses notable productions such as Come From Away, Moulin Rouge, and The Wall.
Høyer’s love for live sound started a during his time at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory. He went on to work with Løvenhardt at a Danish regional theatre where they remained for over ten years, until it was forced to close because of the Covid pandemic. The theatre had become a leader in developing modern musical theatre at a high technical level and produced both new material and titles by Disney and DreamWorks that hadn’t previously be done, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, and The Prince Of Egypt.
“As a freelance sound designer, there is often a significant challenge in working with different production teams,” Høyer continues. “We formed Tone Art so we could bring together a forward-thinking team and continually enhance internal collaboration, which gives us a competitive advantage. We can provide a full sound crew that is accustomed to working with each other. We believe this enhances the final outcome as it allows more time for the creative aspect of the design, resulting in great-sounding shows.”
In 2006, Høyer had the opportunity to visit New York and attend a Broadway production. He was eager to observe how sound design was approached by the teams there and was surprised by the emphasis on preserving the original sound sources even during the scenes where Høyer felt the music “was calling for some interference”.
“The objective was to have as little impact as possible on the final product and to ensure that everything remained inconspicuous,” he explains. “Before my trip, I had already worked on numerous productions in my own country, but due to the lack of a proper sound culture in the theatre scene in Denmark, I naturally adopted a more Rock ‘n’ Roll approach to sound design. The experience I had in New York provided me with valuable insights into how sound design was carried out in other places. I have always believed that the contribution of sound to a performance is at least as significant as that of lighting and staging. Therefore, our approach to the musical theatre scene has been distinct, and now, people in Denmark have come to expect the grande and powerful sound signature that we are known for in our shows. We’re not afraid to have an impact when the production calls for it.”
For The Hunchback of Notre Dame, they fully harnessed the surround system to authentically recreate the acoustics of the church. “As the audience entered the auditorium before the show, they could sense the sound gradually transforming into a grand reverb, creating the sensation of being inside a church,” he recalls.
“And the set design extended not only onto the stage but throughout the entire room. We also incorporated a significant amount of rumble, relying heavily on powerful effects subs to make the transitions as impactful as possible. However, I think it’s important not to overwhelm the audience with intense sound effects all the time, but to have the ability to transition from the physical effect to quieter moments. The surround system helped us do that and played a pivotal role in the production. Additionally, we had an audience on stage seated in small church bench wagons, which was all part of the production design.”
The Hunchback of Notre Dame received a highly positive response from audiences in both Fredericia and Copenhagen. This success paved the way for other significant Disney productions, such as Tarzan, where the Tone Art team also applied their ‘cinematic’ touch to sound design, aiming to take, as Høyer describes it, “a more radical and bombastic approach”.
“It was a collaboration between all departments, and that can be challenging to achieve when working on a production for a one-off producer. In our case, we were in a theatre that had, over the years, assembled a talented team of individuals who were deeply committed to producing such shows. As a result, there was significant overlap among various teams, and thanks to this collaboration, we were able to deliver a superior overall outcome,” Høyer explains.
Tone Art has a roster of products they rely on, including DiGiCo digital mixing consoles which they’ve been using for many years, starting with the brand’s original D5 and D1 consoles and now using Quantum7T on almost every production. Høyer notes that the sound quality and flexibility of the consoles have seamlessly integrated into their workflow, and the continuous development of features ensures the products remain up-to-date with the latest technology and trends in the industry.
Løvenhardt agrees, recalling that although it took some time for the theatre specific T software to reach Denmark, it has proven to be a game changer for them.
“We typically have a higher number of cues, around three to four hundred, compared to other theatre shows. This reduces the need for the operator to do a lot of manual work during the shows,” he explains. “By using the T software, we gain access to more robust cue list automation and editing capabilities, along with the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments. This not only broadens our options but also enhances the flexibility of the productions we are working on.”
The latest additions to Tone Art’s inventory are the DirectOut Prodigy.MP and Prodigy.MC modular audio converters. The MP version is used at the FOH, and the MC version is used on stage. Designed to address numerous applications in live sound, broadcast, installation and recording, the DirectOut solutions bring simplicity to patching and conversion and, used in conjunction with a DiGiCo Orangebox, allows them to have different audio formats in one box on the optical loop. Having previously used DirectOut’s Andiamo and M1K2, the Prodigy allow the team to do more with a single unit. Kim Johansen from distribution company, KDMC, has provided invaluable support from both DiGiCo and DirectOut, helping them along the way.
“With DiGiCo and DirectOut as the steady backbone of our productions, we know we can stay current with the latest technology,” Høyer concludes. “We also use Shure Axient, Wisycom, DPA Microphones, Waves Soundgrid, KLANG, and Aviom products. In the past year, all our shows have been equipped with speakers from Meyer Sound and d&b.
“We view sound as being as vital for storytelling as all other aspects of a live production. A great sound design has the power to evoke emotions just as deeply as the visual elements of the performance. With Tone Art Aps, we have the privilege of collaborating with some of the industry’s finest audio professionals, and together, we champion more evocative experiences by delivering superior sound quality and setting high standards for the Danish musical theatre scene.”
Maria Fiorellino at DiGiCo
Tel: +44 1372 845600
Sarah James at Gasoline Media
Tel: +44 1483 223333
By using the T software, we gain access to more robust cue list automation and editing capabilities
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