Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Band Dynamics


									               St. James Worship Music Workshop
                       2nd November 2002

                                  BAND DYNAMICS

The Music

1. Rhythm

In chorus’s, the beat is on the off-beat (or “backbeat” - 2nd/4th beat, not 1st/3rd !) -
based on jazz, gospel & blues origins of rock/pop style music as well as most

In hymns, the beat is more “square”, and almost comes on every beat, but can be
done “traditionally”, or on the off-beat if being done is a more contemporary style.

Work on the off-beat becoming habit for clapping/percussion instead of the on-beat.

Culturally, many used to clapping on the on-beat (as in folk music, children’s nursery
rhymes, classical music) - the off-beat takes some cultural readjustment!

Guitarists will generally “play” for the off-beat anyway - but many pianists play on
the on-beat. Work on everyone playing on the same beat!

2. Percussion

If we don’t have a drummer:
 try and use “hand” percussion instruments, like the tambourine, egg, or cabasa.
 BUT, these are not easy instruments to play! In the wrong hands, the tambourine
   is a lethal instrument!
 The obvious people to play these are the singers, but only if they can do that and
   still sing
 If no-one can play percussion, get someone to learn (properly!) - see if a
   drummer can teach people.

A good alternative to drums are congas, bongos or djembe - but these also require
skill to play well. Equally, these can work very well with a drummer – but both
musicians must work together to make it co-ordinated

Make sure you are on the off-beat! On-beat tambourine will “kill the groove”!
If no-one can play percussion well, better to do without, and arrange songs suitably,
than to do it badly.

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                   1                                 June 2001
3. Tempo

Slow songs are often played too fast, fast songs sometimes to slow!

Think about what the words are saying on slow songs - do they give an indication of
pace/space? (e.g. “To be in your presence, not rushing away”)

Temptation is to do mid-pace songs (e.g. “My Jesus, my Saviour”) too fast to “pep”
them up - usually just results in reducing the musical impact and “solidity” that many
mid-pace songs have.

Wrong tempo can lead to wrong “groove” or loss of the “groove” altogether!

Some songs (“My Jesus, my Saviour” again) can be done at several speeds, but the
style and groove need to reflect this and be tailored accordingly.

Make sure that the tempo is right for the whole song - the words in the chorus may
need the song to go slower than the verse suggests, or vice-versa (e.g. “Days of

4. Use of Instruments

What instruments do we have available to us - and what work together? A violin,
trumpet, bass guitar and tambourine might not be the easiest combination to work
with! We don’t need to feel we should have every instrument available to us in use
every time - some just don’t go together.

Work with what we have got, but use the instruments to match the music and/or the
words/mood of the song - e.g. trumpet for triumphal songs (or soulful ones), violin
for blues or quite/slow intimate songs. Don’t assume every instrument should play in
every song.

Recognise the role of different instruments within the dynamic of the song and the
sound of the band - what does a keyboard offer as opposed to a guitar?

Some general observations:


 Very versatile, but don’t try and do everything, even if you can! Make space for
  other instruments. Use the keyboard for mood as much as chords, melodic
  interest, rhythm. Avoid playing the tune when people are singing - it will obscure
  the singers. Make use of “space” in vocal lines to add interest. Don’t play all the
  time. Less is more – held chords or occasional “interest” interludes can be more
  effective than playing all the time.

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                 2           June 2001 updated November 2002
Acoustic Guitar

 Better than the keyboard for providing rhythmic lead & “feel” - recognise where
  songs are “guitar-based” or “keyboard-based”. In a full band, the individual notes
  are unlikely to be heard, but rhythmic input will be, and general chord “colour” is
  important. Use different chord positions (and capo) to add to the feel and variety.
  Consider, use and learn different rhythms, use plucking when appropriate - but
  will be lost in a full “driving” song.

Bass Guitar

 Provides the “drive” or “groove” for a song. Also, low pitch provides a sense of
  depth and substance, and creative use of groove-patterns or melodies, and
  different rhythms, can give a real variety of feel and impact. Harder to make full
  use of without drums/percussion, but still very valuable.

 The “mood pedal” of a band - can have the most impact in terms of affecting the
  feel of a song - but therefore crucial that they are used sensitively. Nothing worse
  than crashing in at a point of stillness and intimacy! Nothing like the drums for
  making an upbeat song come to life.

Electric Guitar
 Can provide rhythm to back up or substantiate the acoustic, or used instead of an
  acoustic to give a more contemporary, rock feel. Also, used well and
  imaginatively, can drive style of playing - e.g. calypso, rock, ballad. Good as a
  melodic/solo instrument, but use sparingly! Recognise that electric guitarists love
  to “turn it up”! Can also be used as the worship leaders instrument instead of
  guitar or keyboard

Solo Instruments
 Fantastic for introductions, supporting the vocal line, providing musical interludes
  (the “selah” of the Psalms”, especially good at guiding the “majestic” or “intimacy”
  feel, if the right instruments are used - e.g. brass in “Thine be the glory” or
  strings/woodwind in “To be in Your presence”. But again, like the keyboard, avoid
  playing the tune with the singers, or playing all the time - it just adds clutter.

Backing singers (or Backing Vocals, BV’s)

 Theae too are instruments! Make the most of them, not only to lead the tune and
  the words, but by use of harmony & unison, to emphasise the words, and provide
  vocal dynamic and interest. Work on singing together. Again, should be used with
  thought – not just singing the tune along with the worship leader all the time –
  perhaps just in the chorus, or to reinforce certain phrases, or for echoes, etc

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                 3          June 2001 revised November 2002
5. Song Arrangement

Think about the style of the song - what is it saying, where are you using it, what
are you using it for, what was the author intending, etc.

What instruments/voices are available to us? How can they be used in the song?
Should some not play in that song?

Decide on tempo and “feel”.

How are you going to start it? Melodic/instrumental introduction, sudden start, segue
from previous song, acapella?

How are you going to end it?
The intro should achieve the following: hint at which song, set the tempo, the
rhythm, the “feel”, give the key, and ideally guide the congregation to the starting
note or even the tune of the first line.

The outro should show the congregation the song is coming to an end. Are you
going straight into another song? Are you repeating a last line? Lead the
congregation positviely.

Is an instrumental verse appropriate - but beware solos for solos sake.

6. “Notes” v Chord Sheets

Song books can be helpful, but songbooks can also be very unhelpful!

Most modern chorus’s are not written by writing notes on manuscript paper - they
are composed directly on guitar or keyboard.

Apart from hymns, or hymn-like chorus’s, the music is chorus songbooks is simply an
attempt by the author or publishing company to write down, as close as possible,
what the song sound like. BUT it is often only a crude approximation!

The “loose” feel of the melodic line, or the subtleties of the rhythm, are usually lost
in the process of transcribing onto manuscript.

In general, I feel: Hymns & hymn-like songs can benefit from being played from
manuscript, but most chorus’s should not - THROW THE MUSIC AWAY!

Vocally, listen to tapes of the song, if at all possible, or get taught by someone who
knows the song well.

Instrumentally, learn to play from chord sheets - we need to free ourselves from
“slavery” to the notes. Playing from chords enables much more freedom for
inspiration, improvisation, and originality. It also makes it easier to transpose!

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                  4            June 2001 updated November 2002
Not an overnight learning process, but the benefits far outweigh the cost - and it’s
less difficult to learn than you might think!

The People

1. Worshippers

Members of the group/band must be worshippers first, and musicians second. Are
they in a living relationship with the Lord?

Make sure that activity for God doesn’t prevent time to worship God - be Mary, not

Recognise the importance of worshipping yourself as you lead/play/sing in the band.

2. Prayer & Worship as a group

This is key - we should be praying together regularly - for the ministry, our church
leaders, vision, gifting, practical needs of the ministry, and importantly, each others

We should be making time to worship together, away from the pressures of a
rehearsal or service, and ideally not “hiding” behind our instruments.

A group who pray and worship together, and who grow spiritually together, will be
much more effective in leading in worship. We can only lead where we have gone…

3. Being in Relationship

For the group to function successfully, the members need to be in relationship
together. The group is not just a collection of individuals, but a team, and the better
the relationships, the better the team will function.

Are we open, honest, and trusting with each other, meeting each others needs
materially and in prayer?

4. Right people for the ministry?

Who should be involved? What is their motivation?

It is important to address these issues before people become involved in the
ministry, as it is much harder to change things once people have joined than

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                  5          June 2001 revised November 2002
There may be trouble ahead if someone is in the group simply because they want to
play their instrument, rather than serve the church - this is no place for self-

Equally, is someone has “serving addiction”, they will not be able to devote enough
time and attention to the ministry. If taken seriously, it is a time-consuming area to
be involved with, and requires dedication and energy. Division can arise if some
people are felt not to be “pulling their weight”.

Are they actually sufficiently skilled to be involved - no matter how enthusiastic they
are, a tone-deaf singer is probably not in the right place!

Right seasons: For each of us, we should ask ourselves (and pray for guidance)
about whether we should still be involved, or whether God is calling us to something
else, or wanting us to move on, to make space for someone else. We need to be
allowing the next generation (age- or otherwise) to have the opportunity to get

Consider using musical auditioning, apprenticing, testing motivation & commitment,
before someone joins - but most of all, be led by God, and under the guidance and
authority of the leadership. Don’t squash enthusiasm, or quash a desire to serve,
look for opportunities for service.

5. Visual Appearance

We are an example to the congregation - we are there to lead.

Dress appropriately (that will vary on the circumstance!)

Smile! Looking miserable, grumpy, etc doesn’t set much of an example to others -
what does our body language say about how we are relating to God in our worship?
If we are tense, we could make others tense.

Eye contact! Don’t look down, look out. Avoid closing your eyes too much, even if
caught up in wonder and adoration! We need to see those we are leading to observe
their response. If you need to look down at your music all the time, then learn the
songs from memory. If you are struggling to read the music, get glasses!

Don’t hide! If your music stand or position is obscuring you from the congregation,
get rid of it, or change your position. Don’t be shy - you are a signpost!

6. Practice & Preparation

It is important that we:
        a) Practice: the songs, our instrument, how to do repeats and song
        b) Learn songs by heart if we can
        c) Get there early – set up, tuning, etc.

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                  6           June 2001 updated November 2002
       d) Pray: Cleansing, guidance, sensitivity to Spirit

Try and make time to practice, both individually (instrumentalists & singers!), and as
a group. Are we learning new styles as well as new songs?

Are we “honing our craft” - working to improve our skill, learn new chords, working
on harmonisation.

Use tapes to help learn new rhythms, to practice with, and learn new songs.

God made us as creative beings - lets be creative!

Strive to be the very best we can!

Tom & Teresa Griffiths                  7           June 2001 revised November 2002

To top