Worship Band 101 – Parts Is Parts!

I was originally going to direct this to just music people, but if you use “band” metaphorically, you might find it applicable at work, too. I don’t know, you decide…

A good buddy of mine and I were talking – I mean “sharing”… He’d had a frustrating experience a while back in another playing situation at another chur- I mean, venue… 😉

Basically it was the old story of the me musicians had not really studied a specific tune ahead of time, and , even worse, they (specifically guitarists) had not agreed on who was going to play what – y’know, who was going to play what PART. The result was, of course, equivalent to the stink off a turd. Sorry – I mean, the result was quite unpleasant. Everyone overplayed, lead lines were not existent, chords were butchered, and it was a mash of sonic, well, mash!

And what makes it sad was that they were all actually good players, but they had not taken it upon themselves to work out the fine details of who was going to play what.

It’s a pretty simple concept, when you stop and think about it. Everything in life (and music) has its role. Hand, eye, ear, husband, wife, engine, steering wheel, power cord, bee, bacteria, peanut butter, freezer, sunlight, Belgium, grass, bathtub. You get the picture. It’s only after everyone in the band – specifically those playing the same instrument – DEFINE and EXECUTE their role does music start to sound like, well, music – not mash.

I’m reading a great book right now – suitable for anyone! It’s called “The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook, Second Edition” by Bobby Owsinski. OK, maybe not suitable for EVERYONE…

On page 11, like, the first real concept he talks about, is The Arrangement (note: SONIC arrangement, not form arrangement – verse, chorus, etc).

Let me plagurize for a moment:

“Good balance starts with good arrangement. It’s important to understand arrangement because so much of mixing is subtractive by nature. This means that the arrangement, and therefore the balance, is changed by the simple act of muting an instrument whose PART doesn’t fit well with another. If the instruments fit together well arrangement-wise and don’t fight one another, the mixer’s life becomes immensely easier.

“When two instruments that have essentially the same frequency band play at the same volume at the same time, the result is a fight for attention. Think of it this way: You don’t usually hear a lead vocal and a guitar solo at the same time, do you? That’s because the human ear can’t decide which to listen to and becomes confused and fatigued as a result.

“So how do you get around instrument “fighting?” First and foremost is a well written (Reid: or discussed) arrangement that keeps instruments out of each other’s way right from the beginning. … the result is an arrangement that automatically lies together without much help.”

The next 8 pages go on to describe and teach rules and elements of a (sonic) arrangement. This is ESSENTIAL reading for members of your band, specifically your MUSIC DIRECTOR, BAND LEADER and FRONT OF HOUSE ENGINEER. Well, heck, the whole book is good for your sound guys!

So, basically, your band can sound better if you STOP PLAYING and START TALKING. Side note: Leave your egos at the door 😉

Are YOU talking?


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