11 Deadly Sins of the Worship Team, Part 4
By Jon Nicol
The next two deadly sins have to do with dynamics:
#5 - Set it and forget it. Failing to use dynamics
A worship team will set the volume/intensity at the front end, and there it stays—for the rest of the song (and often the rest of the service).
Dynamics matter. Like the arch in a great story, dynamics allows us to build up, create tension, climax, then resolve. This helps move the worshipers along in the song. It also gives them a needed break from a constant wall of sound.
Here are four reasons teams fail to use dynamics:
- Ignorance. They just don’t realize it. This is usually the mark of an immature team of musicians being led by an immature leader. But the good news is, this the easiest reason to rectify.
- We’re just trying to survive. The team is too busy trying to play/sing the right chords/notes.
- We're playing the chart, not the song (see #4)
- Overplaying/Oversinging. (see #2) Dynamics aren’t just achieved by volume, but with space. I.e. instruments and voices need to give room
Here are a few ways to reverse this sin:
Listen to recordings of the song. Mark dynamics. Pay attention to HOW the musicians on the recording achieved those dynamics. When they got softer, did they “just” get quieter? Or less? Or not at all? How about during the bigger sections – what makes it bigger?
Choose one song a week to memorize with your team. Since they now know the chords and notes and form (make sure they memorize the form), you can work on dynamics without sweating the basics. This practice will start trickling to other songs, at least we hope so.
Arrange. Plan specifically when and which instruments and voice should come in and drop out. When will the vocalists being singing off mic, parts, unison? How much and in what range should the instruments be playing?
This is basic arranging, and you can do it. It’s legal in your state. I checked.
Let's move on to the second of the two dynamic-related sins:
There are two ways we do this:
First, when a song needs to build, the band unwittingly increases their speed. Big = fast. And the inverse is also true. When a song hits a quiet section, like breakdown or a quieter verse, the band will start dragging as they hold back their volme and intensity.
Secondly, we speed up a song in an attempt to recreate the energy of a well-arranged recording. I’ve talked about this in a recent post: Three Ways to Stop Confusing Tempo and Feel and in a series I wrote for WorshipMinistry.com - Developing a Solid Sense of Time.
To overcome the sin of equating Big with Fast, the only long-term solution is learning to play in time. Developing a Solid Sense of Time series has some ideas to help you do that.
One last word about dynamics. I think we in the church are often afraid of manipulating emotions to achieve the appearance of expressive worship.
And yes, we do want to make sure that we don’t manipulate emotions. But dynamics are about bringing beauty and feeling to a song. That’s created in part by contrast. Imagine a Rembrandt painting or Ansel Adams photograph without contrast. Our music needs contrast to be beautiful.
And if we create genuine beauty – art – it points back to the Original Artist and Source of all true beauty. Does it effect our emotions? You bet it does. But the last time I check, we’re called to worship him with our heart, soul, mind & strength. I think that list covers emotions.
Will there be people who only experience emotions in our services because of the music? Sure. But for those who are truly seeking God in spirit and in truth, the emotions evoked by the music simply serve as a reinforcement of what they are already feeling toward God.
What are some struggles your team has with using dynamics?
What are some ways you've worked to incorporate dynamics?
post graphic derived from Stock.xchng, thanks Margus Saluste
May 21, 2012Tweet