Archives For January 2013

Blog - Lead Line Header

Once the band is locking into each other rhythmically and not clashing with each other sonically, you’ll have a great sounding rhythm section. One thing is missing from that picture though … Lead Lines.

A lead line is basically the melodic line that you hear at the forefront of the mix. It is determined in rehearsal as “the most important sound of the moment” that will attract the listener’s ear. It can be anything from the riff of an electric guitar to the sung vocal line of the lead vocalist. We all understand when and where the vocal line fits into the overall picture of the song (the songwriter determines that) so in talking about lead lines this week, I want us to focus on those melodic lines that, in a band context, we typically hear in the electric guitar or right hand of the piano.

A song without any lead lines would be excruciatingly boring.

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Just a Click?

Jared Taylor —  January 28, 2013 — 5 Comments

Hymnal Mousepad

I was ten years old when my parents put me to work at the church. It may shock you to know that I was both a trouble-maker and a smart aleck. But I had a knack for hooking up the family Nintendo so they signed me up for the tech team. My first assignment was the overhead projector.

Let me just say this: if you think running lyrics on a computer is hard, you didn’t live through the overhead projector era! Continue Reading…

Blog - Vocal Range Header

Worship leaders should have one approach to their leadership:

Lead in such a way that only provides encouragement towards (not distraction from) an opportunity to join together in singing declarative truths about who our God is and who we are as His people.

That may seem very self explanatory, but think about the things that could be a potential distraction for someone wanting to engage in musical worship.  Anything from inappropriately placed screaming guitar solos to lyric slides that show up a line too late (and everything in between) can fall into this red flag zone.

There are many things that can distract us from entering into engaged musical worship experiences, but I would say towards the top of “The Most Distracting List” can be the key a song is led in.  If a song is too high or too low, what are people going to do? They’ll just stand there. If they’re wanting to be singing by they physically can’t, it can be frustrating.

REALITY CHECK FOR TRAINED VOCALISTS WHO LEAD: If you choose a key based on where it sounds best or is even most natural to sing in your range, it’s probably not a good key to lead that song in corporately.

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Taking it Apart: the Voice

Jared Taylor —  January 22, 2013 — 4 Comments
Part 8 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Nathan_Scott

If our job is to lead people in singing, then the voice is the most important source in the mix. We’ll suffer through mediocre floor tom tuning or a few missed beats in a clarinet solo, but if the vocals don’t sound right it’s game over.

Our ears and our brains are engineered for understanding spoken words, particularly consonants which are spoken at half the volume of vowels. In the consonant range we’re able to detect sounds 100 times quieter than other sounds and our sensitivity to pitch is 10 times more precise. This is why we have a strong negative reaction to a flat vocal but can barely tell if a bass guitar has been tuned in the last year.

We also know how voices should sound because we listen to them for 12 hours a day! Most of your friends can’t tell if the acoustic guitar was a little too bright but they absolutely know if they can’t understand the words. And they’re right! In this instance, as a sound person, you really are mixing in a room full of experts! And, because you need to be a chief expert among experts, I’m going to share with you some of what I’ve learned about the voice. Continue Reading…

Blog - Sonic Range 1

When playing together in a band context, by now, I think we would all agree that the sonic range I’m playing in (the octave I’m singing or playing my instrument in) is just as important as the rhythms I’m playing, right? Knowing this importance is one thing, but working it out in rehearsal can be very challenging and time consuming.

If there’s one instrument that runs the highest risk of eating the whole pie (100%) in the sonic plane, it’s the keyboard. The lowest note on the keyboard is an A – two semi-tones lower than the low B on a 5-string bass guitar. If your bassist is playing a 4 string, the piano has a whole 5th below the low E on the bass. No one in the band can possibly play those notes in the low A-E range except the piano player. You might think, “Great!  Sonic room for me to play without worrying about anyone else running into me.” Well, let me put it this way, if there’s a bass guitar player in your band, let them live up to their name and actually be the bass player in the band. Keyboardists, let the bassists have their range and take that left hand and bring it up the keyboard.  I know, that’s almost two whole octaves chopped off of the low end of the keyboard. There is an exception to almost every rule, but when it comes to the keyboardist’s left hand, I wouldn’t have it playing much lower than the C that is one octave below middle C. When keyboard players get their left hand away from what the bass player is playing, the sound will significantly tidy itself up and the listener will feel more depth to the overall sound.

There is an exception to almost every rule, but when it comes to the keyboardist’s left hand, I wouldn’t have it playing much lower than the C that is one octave below middle C.

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Taking it Apart: Piano

Jared Taylor —  January 14, 2013 — 2 Comments
Part 7 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Piano-Kid

The piano is a big instrument! In terms of frequency range, its 88 keys start lower than a 5-string bass and top out nearly two octaves higher than the highest note on an electric guitar! It truly is an instrument built to fill a room!

A pianist often plays more than one part and is responsible for balancing them so, in some ways, a pianist has to mix their own instrument. This approach works splendidly when the piano is unaccompanied, but doesn’t always hit the mark in a rock band. There, the piano’s wide range can get in the way of other instruments. A pianist skilled at playing in a group navigates this by playing in specific frequency ranges, finding the right spot for the piano to shine amidst the other instruments. Continue Reading…

Sonic Range Photo

Whoever could have guessed that musicians had to think so much when they jumped into a band context? If I’m a great player of my instrument, I should be able to step into any setting and sound good! Unfortunately, without experience as a band member, this is likely not the case.

We’ve been talking about the horizontal “rhythmic” plane (as we call it) of playing together within the 100% rule.  If you don’t know what I mean, go back and read “Playing Together as a Band: Rhythm Playing“.  We know that there is so much more to talk about in each of these areas, but for the sake of keeping everyone’s interest, let’s move onto the vertical plane of sonic ranges.

Imagine this … Continue Reading…

Part 6 of 8 in the series Taking It Apart

Acoustic-closeup

Sonically speaking, acoustic guitars have a bit of a split personality – a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There’s the way it sounds, and then there’s the way it sounds plugged in.

The rich, full bodied tone emanating from a quality guitar often bears no resemblance to the thin, choked sound that flows out of its electronic connection. It’s impractical to mic an acoustic guitar with a drummer ten feet away, so we plug it in! With mixed results. And sometimes, working with an acoustic guitar ends up being more of a salvage operation than a musical experience! Continue Reading…

A new year is before us — new excitements, new joys, new challenges …
I’m going to let Tim Day, the Sr. Pastor of The Meeting House, take the first post of 2013.

This is for anyone who is involved in a weekend service context. Musicians and techs alike, be inspired and join with us to make way for the Spirit moving in our communities, and to be used to raise the temperature of our weekend services!

(Having trouble viewing this video? Click here: http://youtu.be/6qP2DZHsLAo)