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Hazer / Singers / Smoke machines


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Hi everyone,


I'm supposed to be doing a gig this Friday in a pub for quite a well known local band - I'm actually doing it as a freebie because their drummer is a good mate of mine and has helped me out and lent me plenty of kit over the past few years (I'm a drummer myself).


But chatting with him yesterday and discussing Friday, I suddenly mentioned the use of the hazer. At which point:


'No smoke. Singer won't have it for his voice.'


'It's not smoke - it's a haze. There won't be a lot, and it makes the lights look incredible in comparison to without'.


'No smoke. He won't have it'.


Not exactly that but more or less along those lines - he seems adamant that it cant be used.


Now has anyone any experience and can anyone confirm whether it can actually affect a singers voice a great deal? I could understand his problem with clouds of smoke drifting everywhere, but it's just haze to help pick up the lights. I've never had a problem from singers before and it never seems to have bothered them.


Whats amusing is that the gig is in one of the smokiest pubs I know...it's not like he wont be breathing in second hand cigarette smoke all night!!


So has anyone any idea how much truth is in the claim that it can affect voices?


EDIT: Sorry....wrong forum again

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Just my thoughts:

  • Pavarotti sings with haze.
  • It's a smoky environment - that'll do much more damage to his voice than haze ever could.
  • Does he drink? That'll damage his voice more than haze.

The haze will dry his throat out a little. But if he's singing then that'll do that more so. If it's a smoky environment and you use the hazer judiciously, I doubt he'd be able to tell you which is which.


I suspect he needs a swift education on the differences between haze and smoke. Or perhaps it's just your drummer boy.



I'm dating an opera singer, fwiw.



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'No smoke. Singer won't have it for his voice.'


'It's not smoke - it's a haze. There won't be a lot, and it makes the lights look incredible in comparison to without'.


'No smoke. He won't have it'.


So has anyone any idea how much truth is in the claim that it can affect voices?


This is one of the oldest most contested fallacies in the history of modern theatre.


And one that's been discussed ad nauseam here and on stagecraft related forums (fora?) for years.


To condense it, however:


There are SOME performers who MAY have a sensitivity to SOME types of haze/smoke, but they are most definitely in the MINORITY.

I myself, in 30 years of being involved in theatre (mainly amateur, but a fair bit of short-term pro stuff over the years) and having spoken to MANY people in the professional arena during that time, have NEVER, EVER come across ANYONE who this would apply to.

However, I have encountered a fair few who have CLAIMED that smoke/haze affects their voice, or their throat etc, when it did in fact NOT.


YES - some haze concoctions can in excessive exposure dry out the throat a little, but judicious use of a bottle of water usually sorts that aspect.


SOME performers prone to asthma can also see/feel an effect, but if they're THAT asthmatic, then their vocal pipes are going to be suspect for any lengthy vocal delivery anyhow....


I feel VERY strongly about this topic (can't you tell...! :)) and firmly believe (a belief based on long experience) that 99.99999% of all claims that singers can't perform in 'that fog stuff' are all psychological. Just like the audience who see dry ice rolling down stage at the start of a scene and the front 6 rows start coughing!!


There will be those here who can point at certain performers who maybe DO have an allergy to some smokes, and have a legitimate complaint against their use, but I'd put them in the remaining 0.00001% of the above equation!


But for more info, search the BR for 'Haze' and 'Voice' and see what that brings!!



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I have heard that a study was done for an American Concert Hall regarding haze and its effect on singers.


Apparently the singers were trying to sue over the use of theatrical haze. It was during a very busy gig that I was told this and I forgot the name of the venue.


I have googled a bit but not had any luck, its very frustrating as apparently the study confims that haze has no decernable effect on people. Unless you were to lock yourself in a very small cuboard and fill it completely with the thickest haze possible....and then remain in the cuboard for several days.


Has anybody else heard about this?

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Essentially the answer is 'no'. It will not hurt throat or voice unless exposed to at high levels on a regular basis (ie. nightly and very thick). This has been proved through extensive research on West-End and Broadway productions.


Though it is true that the glycol in traditional water-based hazers/smoke machines is hygroscopic (absorbs water) and therefore potentially can dry eyes/throats, the reality is it requires huge quantities. And, as you say, cigarette smoke is far worse. It is burnt (carcinogenic) and has larger particles. For any performer to suggest that the clean theatrical haze might be a problem in a room full of smokers is just silly.


However, in my experience, no matter how strong the scientific evidence, once someone's made their mind up that's it. It's all psychological and possibly based on just one bad experience of an over-enthusiastic button presser! Very annoying on the part of a lighting engineer who knows the facts and needs it for artistic purpose against naivety/stubbornness of an artiste who doesn't appreciate, but there's not a lot you can do.


The only times I have managed to win in these situations is where I have used mineral oil type machines (ie. DF-50) and explained how these are not like traditional smoke and can only lubricate throat etc. etc! Note that in the tests the mineral oil machines did not produce any ill-effects at all, no matter how much they were used. Shame about the horrendous residues...



This should be in effects forum :)



@Andrew: There are definitely some detailed studies out there but it is a couple of years since I researched.

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If the singer thinks it is affecting his voice then it probably will.
Like I said - pschological.

(Or as I like to often say, psycho-pathetic! :))


Mind you, one practice I've used in the past is to say that I'm using a new type of fog fluid, that's been developed recently to combat the effects of older fluids and is specifically designed NOT to affect singers' throats etc.

Then carried on using the nromal stuff!

(Which, to be honest, HAS been developed with singers in mind!!!)

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1) Singers are told by their teachers not to expose themselves to smokey atmospheres as it is bad for their voice (meaning cigarette smoke)

2) Singers see haze, equate that with a smokey atmosphere, and panic.

3) The panic affects their voice.

4) They take that as proof that haze affects their voice.


I blame the singing teachers! :)

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I do know of a number of artists who will not perform in water based hazes and smokes due to their hygroscopic effect however to be fair not a single one of them would be caught dead singing in a smoky pub!


While it's easy for LDs and the like to moan about artists for complaining in you look at it from their perspective as someone who's livelihood and often a huge part of their life is their voice then wouldn't you want to do everything you could to protect it?


Glycols are hygroscopic and will dry out the throat to a certain extent, whether this is noticeable or not is purely academic if the artist isn't happy.


In summary I do think artists are well within their right to request the use of oil instead of glycol, if that right extends to singers in otherwise smoky environments I wouldn't like to say.

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Yeah I tend to agree with ike. I work with a professional band who do allow me to use haze, im also a vocalist so I can tell you all officialy that any type of haze or smoke does in fact effect your voice, haze tends to dry you out and the residue builds up and coats your throat, so hense I drink lots of water whislt working and the band also take water on stage to ease the problems.


when a singer is working more or less every night under the same conditions it has adverse effects on the throat, also baring in mind I DO NOT play in smoky venues and none of the band or myself smoke.


The biggest problem is huge clouds of smoke which if your taking in a large breath on stage and you take in a huge amount of smoke it gags the layrinx (sp?) and causes you to caugh and inturn prevents the rather large note you were hoping to belt out to struggle and not be able to sustain or hold.


I see this argument from both angles as im an LD and also a singer (LD main profession, singing is hobby) so yes its a pain in the ass for the lighting side of things but its also a big problem on the voice



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Could this be the report to which you are refering?


Also more here but with different links:



It's American so the suggestions and limits are likely to be conservative, but it does appear to be scientific and objective.


Good overview of the situation from Environ (the group who undertook the report for American Equity above, they also seam to be the poeple who do a lot of the reports on smoke machines etc.)



Another report from a different group:



I also found some usage sheets for a few smoke machines:







Fog Monitoring Equipment details:



Oh and in general the gist is that there are no serious health effects from exposure. However, as with exposure to any chemical the amount and duration of exposure should be monitored and recorded. They have also set some recommended exposure levels (~50mg/m^3) but only useful it you happen to have an Aersol Monitor up your sleve!


It would be interesting to compare this to a report on the effects of walking down a busy street - I think I'd feel healthier in the theatre full of haze / smoke.

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Yes this is all good and well, but what im saying is the effects caused by smoke and haze wont kill you and wont damage your throat


BUT it drys it out and causes residue to build up, which is the problem singers get, its not a cases of them thinking its lethal, its the effects it has on there throat at the time of exsposure.



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