Ah, so you're not going back that far. Some degree of skill should be required. If someone can get good enough on guitar in a month to play a song well enough to be on a worship team, I'd say they're a prodigy. For me, that assumes that "good enough" is really pretty good.
And also, it seems to be a function of the music itself - being able to play a hymn on an organ note for note is not easy in the first place. That's a much different demand from playing modern praise music in many cases.
Not agreeing or disagreeing. Like you said, you're bringing out irony and it's interesting to think about. I happen to think that we should ask for some level of skill.
As for the guitars, I don't know of many who were able to play a guitar acceptably in a month or two - really. I'm one of the few... If you really want to see skill, check this out:
I'm still working out if I agree with the idea of making a 4 year old play like this - knowing the chances that these kids are severely mistreated to get to this level of skill. They just don't seem normal for some reason.
The old hymns do take a "degree" of skill but IMHO they are awful because of the arrangements used in churches. I just cringe when I hear anything played in the typical SATB format in hymnals. Yuck! I am not sure people hate organs and even pianos in church but am thinking it is the music played on them that has them running for the nearest rock band.I worked with a dear pianist at the last church I was attending that used to play piano for Katherine Kuhlman. She was great and could play from chord charts without a problem. This 78 year old had some soul and I loved to play with her!
SATB format is for singers, and even then was created as a guide showing a good harmony flow for the voices*. With the advent of the Gospel Song in the 1880's, which was chordal in concept, the SATB parts became less useful, and were often poorly written (how can you write an interesting part for something that doesn't change chords in any given measure?). However, there were still a lot of folks who read parts, and found them useful. The de-parting of music in schools, both as a course and a concept, today, has dealt a hefty blow to part-singing, once one of the most beautiful things in all music.
Any keyboardist worth his or her salt read the voicings and from them improvised the background, in chords, throwing in hints of the vocal harmonies to help the altos and tenors in the congregation.
I am an organist. An organ played badly, as I'm afraid to say, most have been in the last half-century, is indeed a terrible dinosauric, ponderous thing. An organ played well has a dynamic beyond what a person who has not heard it can imagine. I play the organ well; presently, in our traditional service, it works well, because the people still know how to sing in parts, and they sing up-tempo. Generally traditionalists sing hymns fast and lively, while evangelicals tend to sing them like dirges. And for the life of me, I don't know why. Anybody with an answer to that? Or is that just from my own experience?
Thanks for that mini music history lesson. It was good. I wonder if the evangelicals tend to play hymns like dirges because they don't come from classical training like most of the traditional leaders in music did and they are trying to put a little of their country thing on it but not really pulling it off too well? I don't even try to pretend I know what I am talking about as far as hanging around the classically trained, being from more soul-country roots myself, but I do listen to classical music and do know that there is a different approach and direction taking place there.
I am glad that you play organ well, because being an Irish whistle player, which is really just a mini-pipe, I actually like them played well. Their construction, as far as pipe organs are concerned really fascinate me. I did a self study on them and was amazed at what man can Mcgiver to work so well. I have been inspired to make my own "flange" around the sound-hole on some whistles I am in the process of building, just like the best pipes of the old organs used to have. It has already been done by a famous whistle maker/pipe organ maker (Copeland) so I know it will improve the sound and can't wait to get it done. His whistles are just priced way over my purchasing limits so I just will have to do it myself.
There may be a number of factors in the speed of the flow of text in singing -- much contemporary rock prefers a spacious style in which you sing a short phrase with the words not too hasty, leaving lots of room for instruments before you sing again. This makes it easy for the singer to think of the next line, and also to insert echoes and instrumental bits, making the song more than just a continuous flow of text.
Could you put a recording of yourself on this site of you playing the Irish whistle? I'd certainly like to hear what you do with it.
That is an interesting observation. I will have to start listening to the two, rock and modern hymn to pick up more on it but I see what you mean by being lyric heavy as hymns surely are. Back then though people were more literate (no offense just fact) and had no problem with learning more lyrics or expecting them but now people balk....they want video feed entertainment me thinks.
Greg I will put up a recording sometime and let you know but I just never get "recorded". I suggested our worship band record themselves but have gotten a no on that and was given the impression that it would discourage them. I have to admit a half way done, poorly set up recording is not the best and can give you a real ego battering but it is IMHO, really important to take real look at what you are putting out in a direct way. They recorded and televised the worship service at the last church I was at and sometimes that did not thrill me when I was pushed to do something that I knew was not going to be good but oh well. I don't think Irish whistle shines the best as a solo instrument.
I usually play improv except for some rousing hymns like I'll fly away then I stick closer to the melody and play them more like an Irish reel. Irish whistle, both low and high are in a lot of movie scores. Once you hear one and know what you are hearing, you will find them in many professional recordings but most people just think they are flutes but they have a distinct "breathy" or "chiffy" character that distinguishes them. One score that comes to mind is the theme for Titanic. That is a low D, which is the lowest most people will go. Many people though do not play low whistle until they are years into it because it takes a lot of breath control as the whistle can be a temperamental sound environment and switching from one whistle size/key to another is challenging and just takes so much experience and time on the instrument to pull it off well all the time. It is one of those instruments that look so easy to play, people get addicted fast and then discover, "Oh no this is going to be difficult to do well".
It is also known as the penny whistle but I don't call it that because I have had some strange reactions to that. One of the team members before I played with them thought it was a kazoo. It also erks me that something that can cost hundreds for a little tube is called a "penny" anything.
One of my favourite of all albums is James Galway/Phil Coulter's "Legends", that features a number of Celtic/historic instruments, some taking just a brief but wonderful tour into the fabric of sweet, soulful and sometimes crazy music. Here the "penny" is called a "tin whistle", played by David Downes, as well as the low whistle, which carries the melody in "An Cail N Fionn", composed by Phil Coulter.
I accompany a high school choral group, mostly "non-musicians"; they love to sing for each other, almost invariably ballads of distraught romance (sometimes they compose their own from life experience). With this motivation (revealing the infidelities of boys through song) they will memorize long, long songs, which the audience has also memorized, and helps them along if they forget the words or cry. These are the same girls who have a hard time remembering an quaver from a semiquaver, or when an assignment is due; but desire can beget great literacy.
If it's any comfort, some others of us record with humble equipment. Mine is the Free Sound Recorder inside my computer -- that's it; but good music fuzzy or a little shrill is still good music. "Getting recorded" is for those who have a certain purpose or mission for which professional standards are essential; but the one who wishes to simply share an idea which is beautiful does not need the expense or the many pains in the neck. You might think of Joni Mitchell's "Clarinet for Free", where she extols the freedom of an a capella musician simply playing to passers-by on a New York avenue.
Perfection is something quite different from the thing perfectionists expect.
(Francois Sifflet, 1947- )
As for mega-dollar penny whistles: I carry a small tube inside my body that, counting the installation fee, cost my insurer thousands of dollars; but it enables me to keep making music:))
Daniel, I would love to have a group of highly trained musicians on my worship team, but one, my church is itty bitty at the moment and 2, that's the wishful thinking of most worship leaders. You take what you can get. Presently for me, it's, well, me. I am what one could call a "highly trained musician" and played classical piano for many years earning honours with the Royal Conservatory of Music. However, when I'm leading worship, singing and playing, I don't have the time to think about a G#m7sus chord. I need to be able to just play. I to believe that we need to be giving God our best and everyone on the team from the drummer to the bass player (or if you don't have those, the organist) to the vocalists all need to be honing their crafts throughout the week as well as spending time in personal worship.
After all of that, I agree with your conclusion. What works in one church may not work in another and we, as worship leaders need to be sensitive enough to know when something isn't working (I've seen some teams sing a song to death while the congregation picks thier noses).
I have honestly found that there is a lot of stuff out there now which is pretty simple and easy to use; stuff by people like Jeremy Riddle, Chris McClarney, Jesus Culture, Tim Hughes, Jason Upton etc. For our church I am looking to lead and introduce songs which help people express their hearts without having to having to concentrate on songs (just like I think your saying you want from the posts below (or above?)) and as i say the names mentioned are some of the people producing songs thorugh which we seem to easily find we can do that. Although the CD's may (and should) contain good arrangements we dont try and copy those if they are uneccassary. SOngs that encourage intimacy are important to us...so i dont mind if we are singing songs with the "I" in them althoug I know others worry about that. Anyway hope that helps.
Out of interest what is the matyerial you are using which is so complicated I would be interested to know.
Joe, you mentioned people having issues with "I" in them - you have people like that? I prefer to use "I" songs in worship because it makes the worship personal. I try to stay away from songs talking about God and try to find songs talking to God.
As far as conplicated material goes, I find that a lot of the newer Hillsong stuff, especially United is far too wordy - songs like The Stand, Tear Down the Walls and With Everything are all great songs and I love them, but they all have so many words, I've ended up pulling a chorus or a bridge and using it on it's own or in a medly of other more well-known songs.