TABC Music Team Workshop July 2013

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1 Introduction The following notes are some ideas, concepts and observations about how we can develop the worship music for TABC. They are things for us all to think about and decide how they might be applied to us as individuals with the instrument we play and how they might be able to develop us as a team. Worship Style Our style of worship music has to cater for a broad range of musical tastes. Essentially though we are after a fairly contemporary, easy listening, middle of the road feel as well as some older, more traditional style of songs and hymns to cover the broad cross section of people we have coming to our services. So we need to have a good understanding of how to create these musical styles and feels, and how each instrument contributes to that. I encourage you to analyse songs worship songs, songs that you like and figure out what makes them sound the way they do. What is each instrument contributing? How do they work together? What is my instrument doing? The Musical Elements Music is made up of five basic elements: Sound the texture i.e. harsh, soft, mellow, gentle, tone etc. Harmony the chord structure, relationship of notes Melody the tune Rhythm tempo, feel, groove, driving, gentle Dynamics volume, energy, variation, light and shade, growth For each of our individual instruments we need to think about how they contribute to the above elements in relation to the other instruments in the band. Working as a Team We need to be thinking as a team not just a group of individuals doing their own thing on their instruments and hoping that it will somehow come together. As a team we need to be thinking about: What is the role of my instrument in the team, and for each particular song? How does what I am playing support the musical style or feel of the song? How does what I m playing fit in with what other members of the team are doing? Are we clashing with or complementing each other? o Operating in the same frequency register? o Timing clashing with what others are doing? o Duplicating what others are doing? E.g. playing melody Music Team Workshop - July 2013 Page 1 of 6 2 July 2013

2 How can I best contribute to the overall sound by what I play, or more importantly by what I don t play? The key thing is to listen to each other and make sure that what we are doing is not clashing or competing with another instrument. The Less is More Principle If you have a band consisting of one instrument, then that instrument can cover all aspects of the song rhythm, sound, harmony, melody, dynamics. But if we have five instruments then theoretically each instrument should be doing one fifth of the total. Each instrument has its own specific role and shouldn t be straying into another instrument s territory. Less is more when there are multiple instruments in the band. Less is more when we want to introduce dynamics into the song. Is the song a guitar-driven song? Then give the guitars prominence and the keyboards take a back seat. For a keyboards-driven song the guitars maybe tone down a lot and allow the keyboards to shine. The bass guitar is handling the bottom end of the harmony spectrum. So the keyboards don t need to play in the bottom register. Rhythm is incredibly important. The accents of beats need to be together and consistent. The kick drum and the bass guitar need to be playing together. The keyboards and guitars need to be playing a consistent and solid rhythm that is locked in together and not clashing. We need to avoid being too busy with our playing. Maybe play less full chords. Don t play so many notes. Play less fills. Leave space for other instruments to be heard. Don t play at all through parts of songs. Just because you are on stage playing an instrument doesn t mean that you have to be playing all the way through every song from start to finish. Remember less is more. Song Arrangements We need to think about song arrangements and agree as a team how the song is going to flow and what part each instrument is going to contribute. How do we start? One or two instruments or all in? How do we introduce dynamics, light and shade? How do we build the song? Create energy? Introduce variation? We don t want songs to be flat with little variation in level, in energy and intensity. We should consider the following aspects in our song arranging: When we play who starts, when does each instrument come in, consider each section of the song and decide who should be playing The sound we are making quiet, full, mellow, harsh e.g. different piano sound patches on the keyboards, electric piano, organ, strings, synth pads on guitar, finger picking, muted Music Team Workshop - July 2013 Page 2 of 6 2 July 2013

3 strumming electric guitar, distortion, reverb, delay. Drums sticks or brushes, cross stick, open/closed high hat, cymbals What we play the busyness of our playing, the number of notes we are playing, how often we play the notes, whereabouts in the frequency range Share duties with other instruments e.g. keys might do the fills between vocal lines on the first verse, the lead guitar or second keys or sax or harp might do the fills on the second verse What is the musical style we are trying to achieve for the song? If it s traditional say a hymn then play it traditional maybe no drums, bass or guitar. Let the keyboards go for it. Trying to combine styles can result in a real shambles. If it s a rocky song, maybe the guitars dominate. Get to know the different styles and understand what makes them sound the way they do. Have a listen to well played songs, Christian or secular, and figure out how they create the different feels, styles, dynamics, energy and interest and try and incorporate that into your own playing. Collectively as a team, think more about song arrangements and work on a plan for each song. A starting point might be the way the original was done to provide some guidance, then work from there.( We do need to be careful that we don t have too many people putting in their penny s worth and it becoming a free for all.) Individual Instruments Bass and Drums Bass and drums are the foundation of the contemporary music style. With the bass and drums providing a solid and consistent rhythm and foundation it makes it so much easier for the rest of the band. They set the groove or feel of the song. The bass covers the bottom end of the harmony spectrum and should hit the chord root notes or the right hand note of slash chords solidly and consistently. Playing the right rhythm is key. Avoid the temptation to do lots of fills. (If you want to do fills change to lead guitar!) A few techniques for dynamics and energy: Don t play at all during parts of the song, e.g. beginnings Play the notes an octave higher at the start of a song, then drop down to the normal range Play only one note per bar for quieter sections, then more notes as the song builds with a stronger more rhythmic pattern Drums need to supply a solid rhythm base keep the time. If the drummer is tentative then it makes the rest of the band nervous. Keep it simple less is more don t get too busy with fills and extra beats. A few ideas and techniques: Use brushes for quieter songs Use mallets Cross stick Open/Close high hat Music Team Workshop - July 2013 Page 3 of 6 2 July 2013

4 Ride cymbal and bell TABC Music Team Workshop July 2013 Emphasise first beat on the high hat for a more driving sound or cymbal bell Play half time either with RH on high hats or ride, or half time on snare i.e. instead of playing the snare on beats 2 and 4 of the bar, play only on beat 4. With the RH on hi hats or ride play quarter notes instead of eighth notes If other instruments stop and we only have drum accompaniment then you can fill the space play louder, do fills, make a noise A key thing with bass and drums is the kick and bass working together playing the same rhythmic pattern. This creates a really tight, solid sound and foundation and is the key to most modern music across all sorts of genres. The drummer and the bass player should work out what pattern they are going to use for each song and base their playing around that. When listening to the original of a song when you are learning it, work out what the rhythm pattern is and perhaps use that as a starting point. The key is to agree on the pattern to use that is appropriate for the song and try its various sections. Be consistent. Keyboards Keyboards, especially piano, have the potential to completely dominate because of their range and versatility. Therefore keyboard players need to pay special attention to the way they play to achieve a contemporary sound and to fit in well with the rest of the band. A few comments and suggestions for the main keyboard, usually piano: Modern keyboard playing is mainly chord based play chords as accompaniment, with fills in the gaps Play mostly in the mid-range of the keyboard Don t do double octave bass notes. The bass guitar is playing down there Don t play the melody the singers are covering that Leave space for other instruments e.g. guitars use sparse chords Make use of 9 th and 2 chords to produce that modern sound Play less notes/chords in the bar Make use of simple arpeggios Switch to different inversions of chords as the song progresses to build the song Don t compete with other instruments when doing fills or instrumental breaks. Decide on who is going to take the lead and then support them Try different keyboard sounds electric piano might suit some songs better. If there isn t a second keyboard then a piano/strings combination can sound nice The second keyboard is usually playing background type sounds strings, synth pad, organ etc. You don t need to be playing all the time through the whole song. Maybe don t come in until the chorus or even later. This helps the dynamics and allows the song to build. Maybe at the end of the song the chorus is repeated but quietly maybe don t play, or perhaps just have the second keyboard playing strings without the main keyboard playing piano Make use of different inversions to the build the song and add light and shade Music Team Workshop - July 2013 Page 4 of 6 2 July 2013

5 Second keys can also do fills and intros, as long as they are not competing with other instruments (piano, guitar, sax etc.) Staccato strings can be quite effective. E.g. in Our God Use 9 th or 2 chords, minor 7ths Guitars Guitars generally fall into two categories rhythm and lead, or acoustic and electric. Some comments on playing acoustic guitar: When the acoustic guitar is starting a song, especially a faster/louder song, play strongly to provide a good lead in, then back off as the other instruments come in. Fill the gap. Avoid busy strumming e.g. too many upstrokes Play with a consistent rhythm and pattern. Support the accents and beats that the drums, bass, keys and melody are doing. Listen especially to the keys as this is where clashes can often occur. When in doubt play a more simple rhythm that doesn t clash with others. If there are two acoustic guitars, try not to play the chords in the same position. Use a capo or bar chords on one of the guitars to provide a point of difference between the two For quieter passages of songs use arpeggios or finger picking the second guitar might do this against the first guitar playing rhythm Electric guitar can play a number of roles and can be quite versatile rhythm, lead fills, lead breaks, pad type sounds Electric guitar generally shouldn t play rhythm in the same manner as the acoustic guitar (unless you only have the electric guitar) You don t have to play all the time. Maybe only come in at the chorus or later to help build the song. Do fills in vocal gaps, but don t compete with other instruments doing fills. Decide who is going to take the lead. Make use of two note and three note chords. Use simple arpeggios Use pad type sounds to fill in the background Use muted strings Other Instruments Sax, harp, flute, violin etc. These should be used for colour and interest. They don t need to play all the time through the whole song. Don t play the melody. Do fills but don t clash with others. Summary Remember the 5 elements of music sound, harmony, melody, rhythm, dynamics Remember we are a team working together to provide an overall sound, each one of us having our part to play Listen to each other Music Team Workshop - July 2013 Page 5 of 6 2 July 2013

6 Less is more keep it simple TABC Music Team Workshop July 2013 Work on song arrangements to create light and shade, dynamics, energy and interest The final comment enjoy making music. Music is diverse and interesting. You can break all the rules that I ve mentioned if it sounds good. Resources on the Web There are plenty of good resources on the Web to help you develop your craft and skill: Do a search on YouTube for your instrument e.g. worship guitar lessons - see Free Resources Index on RHS For drums: Robin Mead Music Team Workshop - July 2013 Page 6 of 6 2 July 2013

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