Soon to be a WTR mini-series!

#1 As an electric guitarist in a worship environment, I've been wondering about a phrase we string jockeys use: Cutting Through The Mix. It would seem counterproductive to do this when our job is to support the vocals. What is "cutting through the mix", and who decided it was important?

 

#2 When we pick songs for worship that we consider to be fresh and original, and fail to see the irony in thinking that sounding exactly like the recordings of those songs makes us in any way fresh and original too, isn't that also irony?

 

Feel free to rant if you want to. I'd like this series of posts to be a safe ranting zone. :)

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Hey Stevo, good to see your voice!  AMEN on your comments about instrumentals.  It's only a problem when everyone wants to cut through the mix, all the time.  Right now I have the luxury of drum, bass, lead and piano all being folks who never do a song exactly the same way twice, yet cooperate with each other.  It's like being in heaven each Sunday.  Sometimes they get a bit loud in their excitement, but I'd rather be in loud heaven than in the solitary confinement of music in which every phrase recurs with the regularity of the dentist's drill.  Here comes the bridge -- swzzzz.... swZZzzss....  swzzWZWZWZWzzzzz.......

'Right now I have the luxury of drum, bass, lead and piano all being folks who never do a song exactly the same way twice, yet cooperate with each other'. Heaven to me too, co-eperation and togetherness of musicians is pure joy :)

Quite.

Sometimes I wish I were British, so I could reply with "quite."  I like that.

Remember the jazz musician in Stan Freberg's parody of Belafonte's Banana Boat Song?

("way...in the background, like I can still hear you, man")

It should that you didn't dominate and what you played contributed to the song as a whole. And people are never cagey...

I agree on this.  If such comments as Greg N. related are cagey or with ulterior motive, it would be a tiny minority.  Most all people who are willing to talk with you (and give you a compliment) are quite sincere.

Not Greg cagey, the audience members saying "you blended very well."

I think pronouns are getting us into trouble!  In any event, the only person who likes an out-of-context spontaneous musical blast is the creator of the blast.

There was a phrase I heard a few times "I think you've been playing really sensitively recently" you just reminded me of. It would ALWAYS (in different churches) be followed with a request to turn down. Sadly, these days I'm trying to hear what people are really saying, finding words seldom match intention.

A friend related how, a few years back, a couple of people would complain about the volume of the keyboard (now there's a refreshing change) and for one meeting they ran with it unplugged - cue complaints of excess volume again. I think 'cutting through' can also depend on the tone settings inside people's heads.

I played the organ at a church for years (in the 70's, before the term "worship band" was coined and we were simply called "the orchestra" - guitars, piano, organ, harmonica, tambourine, music saw, etc.).  Shortly before I left, someone told me "You play so beautifully, but I wish you would play louder - I can hardly hear you."  It was a Hammond Organ, which has no monitor, just two speakers artfully placed. I never saw the speakers, never looked for them, and it was only then, and having another person play, that I learned that there was only one speaker, which sung through a little white-painted grille in the wall, right next to the organist.  Thus, I heard me sounding loud, and I was really playing pianissimo in that rowdy Pentecostal congregation.  Live and learn.

This "engagement" claptrap sounds like the work of a bunch of people that don't have anything better to do with their time than play consultant.  If anybody should be free of consultants, pointy-haired bosses and CEOs' monkeying and meddling with worship, it should be musicians.  Engagement with the congregation doesn't have anything to do with whether or not you use a music stand. The insistence on losing the music stands smells of performance mode, not engagement. The way to be engaged is to be engaged. 

Good grief!  A few years ago they wanted us to go into the choir-loft so we wouldn't be seen and get our egos puffed up and God forgotten; now they want us to stare them down.

If you want to be really engaged, put all the instruments in their boxes except maybe an acoustic guitar, shut off the sound system and get everybody into circles of no more than 35 or 40, pass out some word sheets and sing.  Works at every campfire I have ever been to.

We are here to make beautiful music which inspires people to sing words of truth about God.  If we need to look at sheets of words or music to accomplish this, and they help us, why burden us with heavy weights?  Time, I think, for a study in Galatians.

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