Worship Musician Magazine February 2022 | Page 38

There ’ s a gap that exists between the composition of a song and the performance of that song . In that gap , there is the arrangement of the song .
I call this arrangement stage of song development a “ gap ” because ( IMO ) song arrangement - and the arrangement for each individual instrument within the song - is often largely overlooked by teams of church instrumentalists .
Let me try to put it another way :
GUITARISTS / KEYBOARDISTS - There ’ s a massive difference between , on the one hand , simply reading a chord chart - “ slabbing ” out every note of every chord that appears on the page ( or screen ) from start to finish of a song - and , on the other hand , crafting a musical part for your instrument that complements the overall arrangement of the song .
DRUMMERS - It is possible to play whatever drum beat and fills that you spontaneously feel fit well with our song ( as long as they ’ re using the same tempo and time signature ) but our overall song arrangement could be so much better if your drum part was crafted more intentionally , with greater consideration to the other instruments and voices and the overall sound of the song .
BASSISTS - Apart from the notes that make up the melody , your notes are the most important notes of our song ’ s arrangement . Putting some thought into how you play those notes can make a massive difference to our overall sound and how well our song connects . For example , arranging your bass part so that it locks with the drummer ’ s beat to form a foundational groove that supports the vocal melody will be a lot better than if you don ’ t .
If our instrumentalists are not giving proper attention to the arrangement of their individual parts - and the arrangement of the song overall - our songs will be sonically soupy . Sonic soup - that gluey , messy , over-bearing sound of a poorly arranged song - will not engage your congregation to sing worshipfully to God as well as an intentionally and musically arranged song .
You can get a more detailed explanation of this sonic soup concept in my previous articles including “ SONIC SOUP OR A SONIC EMBRACE ”
A sonically soupy , poorly arranged song will tend to have instruments crowding each other - fighting over the same sonic real estate . They might be playing rhythms that do not complement one another or perhaps they compete with the melody .
A well-arranged song has instruments that leave space for one another or support one another . They will always recognize the primacy of the vocal melody of the song .
Not so many years ago , instrumentalists in most bands / orchestras and other musical ensembles were usually reading pages of full notation - a series of symbols , markings , numbers , and words that told the instrumentalists exactly which notes , when and how to play . The notation had been written by a professional arranger .
Back then , any instrumentalists who were not reading notation almost always had that experience in their background . They knew how to read notation - relying on the work of a professional arranger - but now they had moved beyond that and were able to arrange and play . Perhaps even improvise .
This is not always the case now - perhaps especially within teams of church musicians . Today , instead of reading professionally arranged musical notation , church band members are typically given access to a professionally arranged sound recording and a chord chart . Often - and to detrimental effect - the sound recording and the chord chart are in different keys from each other . The sound recording might be used for general
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