One week to leading…TONALITY

I love listening to modern worship albums. I love hearing the different tones they are using and the different dynamics they choose within the chart. It’s not that older worship albums are bad or useless…but I love progress.

As a worship leader, how do you get your band to understand the tones or dynamics of this new style of music? Quite often…we work with older musicians who grew up using specific guitar or piano patches. We have a drummer that can keep a beat…but we are trying to get something “more” from them.  How do you change the music…how do you create something with a more “modern” sound?

Here is an example of what I am trying to convey…first…an older live worship album…and next…a more modern sounding live album. I am not saying which way is right or wrong…but these are good examples of “tones” and “dynamics” that worship leaders are looking for in modern music. READ BELOW the videos for tips on bringing more modern tones out of 3 key instruments in your band.

Older Live Worship – Still good stuff but listen to the keys and drums.

Modern Live Worship – Great guitar tones and simple piano but @ 3:50 of the video…this thing takes off. Watch what the drummer does.

First – Make a compilation CD of songs that have the tones you want. Hand it out and set it as homework. Have them listen to their specific instruments and create a conversation about what’s different.

Electric Guitar – It’s time to ditch the ultra chorus or the distortion that screams early 90’s. Modern electric guitars are going old school. They are using analog pedals (or digital ones that mimic analog ones) and gain that sounds “glassy” with grit. It uses delay with 8th notes and tremolo that slowly moves the more intimate songs along.  Ask them who the best guitarists of all time are. What gear did they use? What kind of amps did they use? Eric, Jimmy, John…it’s the tone that matters. Find the gear that gets them there…they might already have it.

Keys – It’s time to leave the “electric” piano tones and seriously synthy strings in the past. Keys in modern worship lay the foundation to the tune. Classic organ sounds, deep synth pads and simple piano skills are all that’s needed for a keys player. Have the keys player simplify their playing. Less is more. Playing pads is not about hitting all the notes in the chord…it’s about picking the right notes. The same goes for when they play the piano. They can play all the notes they need with 4 or 5 fingers…it’s mostly rhythmic…not so leading.

Drums – Most drummers can keep decent time, but modern drummers steer almost all the dynamics of the tune. The key word here is dynamics. I find that older drummers have what I call a “Zero to Hero” approach. They are either completely soft…or fully in. Work with them on the building of the song, using the floor tom, kick and snare to create dynamics and not just rhythm. Have them listen to the newer songs…listening to how the drummer controls the dynamics…the rise and fall of the song.

Do you have any other thoughts on how to bring about more modern tones with your band? If so…I’d love to hear them.

Here’s to progress!

Peace. Jesse.


3 responses to “One week to leading…TONALITY

  1. I appreciate the worship teams that can effectively bring dynamic to the table through controllers and it doesn’t always have to be the keyboard player rockin it either. Duality of keys and controllers when done right can be quite ethereal or anthematic depending on the desired effect.

    Last thought… definitive space. If you can’t find it in the music… neither can the congregation you are leading to the throne.

  2. Love it Jeff. SO true…everybody playing each note gets so clunky. Sounds like it’s time for Mr. Obrien to open up the mini Korg?

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