As a guitarist would you always still play the bass notes denote in music if a bass player is present? For example chords like:

D/F#   D/C#   D/G

Would you just strum a D? Or would you always play the F#, C# and G too?

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Diana is right, it's very tempting to thump away on those growly low piano notes, especially as dynamics pick up, thereby drowning the bass. Takes some self control sometimes, but it is important to give the bass player their space. I couldn't do without a bass in the mix. I know what it contributes to the modern worship sound, and try to see the bass gets prominence. A 'mature' bass player (they all get there..) is invaluable to a band. 

This begs the question why the sound engineer isn't getting involved a little too, keeping the bass players sonic space free of clutter (or if the team is too small for a sound engineer, how a keyboard is able to play louder in that range than a bass with several hundred watts and a decent cab)? But certainly it's nicer when everyone is considerate of everyone else.

Ricky Anthony said:

Diana is right, it's very tempting to thump away on those growly low piano notes, especially as dynamics pick up, thereby drowning the bass. Takes some self control sometimes, but it is important to give the bass player their space. I couldn't do without a bass in the mix. I know what it contributes to the modern worship sound, and try to see the bass gets prominence. A 'mature' bass player (they all get there..) is invaluable to a band. 

I made a dumb mistake a couple of weeks back, playing in a group situation instead of alone/with keyboards. I completely forgot to add the mids back into my tone (usually reduced for working with said keyboard player) and couldn't understand why I couldn't hear myself when the band was playing, but sounded enormously loud when they stopped. D'oh.

Yeah true, the engineer will play an important part in that, I guess you can clean up an awful lot out off a muddy mix just by frequency mapping, especially in the 'wall of sound' type applications in modern worship, where definition is not always necessary.

We have a bassist with a precious heart, and he can be counted on to rather not play than clash with the piano, etc. (Except he does it too often, and leaves us hanging - if only he was the drummer instead) It's great to have people who are keenly aware of what's going on around them, and this whole idea of not playing over each other leads to everyone thinking in terms of parts, and playing purposefully. It just takes time to get everyone thinking that way. There's a learning curve between theory and application    

Toni said:

This begs the question why the sound engineer isn't getting involved a little too, keeping the bass players sonic space free of clutter (or if the team is too small for a sound engineer, how a keyboard is able to play louder in that range than a bass with several hundred watts and a decent cab)? But certainly it's nicer when everyone is considerate of everyone else.

Hi Greg,

How would you define 'a mature guitar player' and 'layering'.  I seem to be asking an awful lot of questions lately in discussions, but I am asking out of genuine interest as I want to learn more and grow in my knowledge and abilities.  I keep saying to friends and fellow musicians that I strongly feel this is my 'risk, taking' time. 


Greg Newhouse said:

I suppose the "mature" guitar player must be content to be inaudible if no one else does layering, understands layering, or is willing to be taught layering under the guidance of said "mature" guitar player. Prisoner's Dilemma?

Then I will consider myself a a 'very mature' guitar player, because I couldn't agree more.  Knowing how to be sensitive to the music and musicians is all important.  

I go on mission trips to Mexico  where we serve a small church outside Salamanca.  They have a praise band that

includes a young woman on acoustic guitar.  I have told her, "Ella, I can never hear you, you need to turn up!  All

I ever hear is the keyboard".   She said; I know, but any time I turn up he just turns his keyboard up louder!

Ha Ha, I guess its a universal dilemma ,

In a church a long time ago in London, the keyboard player (an otherwise lovely guy) KNEW that songs had to be started from the keyboard. Made for interesting times.

It's good when a team are gracious with each other.

I'd really love to know how to get the ball rolling for teams that really could benefit from some thought to a technical aspect like this, when playing music as a team. I've seen that it helps if enough people are sufficiently 'into' their music to be able to spend time on their own, thinking out parts and practicing, etc, but it isn't fair to expect everyone to devote the same amount of time and effort. But what do you say to a team that will inspire them to 'mature' in music as much as any other aspect of serving.

I was thinking that making it a point to 'cover' or try copy the album records of songs has an advantage here, because an arrangement is already available, and everyone can find something to do. Just takes some transcribing.   

Many of the musicians I've worked with over the years couldn't easily play what's on the CD track. Also I have observed that having just one version of a song can make that song very jarring when the Spirit is leading the congregation one way, but the tempo & feel of the song are headed in another.

I'd always encourage musicians to learn to play by ear, to feel the changes, to break free of the need to follow the notation (I don't say that they should not have music or that reading music is wrong) and to encourage them to bring ideas and interpretations of songs to practice. Being friends helps a lot, as does giving people permission to make mistakes without shaming them. Having grace with each other is so important, because music will sometimes uncover things in us that can cause friction, and grace will let us work together even when that's happened.

Sometimes CD versions are inspirational, but for me, that's very seldom true now, rather they indicate a way to avoid playing the song. Also if you have just piano and electric guitar you can't replicate orchestral parts, choir harmonies or a metal band thrashing away behind the singer, so you need to play what flows naturally while respecting the congregation. It can be helpful to provide ideas of how one would like a song to sound if you want a particular flavour, but then allow the music team to work with the song as is natural. Some will pick things up & run while, in my experience, others will play along at a lower level, following the dots on the page.

I'm inclined to believe relationships are one of the most crucial parts of a worship team too. I am sure that I would appreciate the CD versions of some songs much more if I were good friends with the people who created them, and loved them first before hearing the music.

Learning covers is an important strand in musical education but playing what is on the original recording won't necessarily work - it can be thwarted by your inability to follow your line but also if other parts are missing or not played accurately. The two important things for successfully playing in a covers band (I've done that several times and recommend it as a way to develop your skills) are learning to negotiate a collection of parts which represent the song with the available musicians and putting in enough time for private practise and group rehearsal.

In a typical church setting, not only are you often working with a very different line-up to any recorded versions you have to hand but there is a real shortfall in time invested. Playing in a worship group is different to performing in a band but an extra sprinkle of time would probably help and don't forget to remind people to think about not only what key things someone needs to play to carry the song (for example, perhaps there is a distinctive riff, even if it ends up being played on a different instrument) but also what needs to be left out to allow space for each other (for example, back to this discussion, leaving some room at the bottom for the bassist).

Look to allow every one involved a chance to shine, which will go some way towards creating an environment of mutual respect where good relationships can thrive.

Wulf

Been there!  The keyboard player is not a team player then?

Diana Jurss said:

I go on mission trips to Mexico  where we serve a small church outside Salamanca.  They have a praise band that

includes a young woman on acoustic guitar.  I have told her, "Ella, I can never hear you, you need to turn up!  All

I ever hear is the keyboard".   She said; I know, but any time I turn up he just turns his keyboard up louder!

Ha Ha, I guess its a universal dilemma ,

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