Sometimes the Best Notes Are the Ones Not Played

Sometimes the best notes are the ones not played.

It is very easy for a band to get too busy while leading songs. Every musician has something to offer or else they wouldn’t be in the band.

What tends to happen is that at a turn-around in a song, every instrumentalist thinks it is their turn to contribute. Leading from the verse to the chorus, oftentimes, a band will have a drummer going on a monster roll, the guitarist bending strings like never before, the bassist sliding up to a fret that’s not even on the neck, and the keyboardist ripping and roaring down the ivories.

Vocalists can get up in the trap too when they silently compete to hear who can hold at the note the longest and the loudest.

While your group members may not be intentionally trying to steal the show, inability to understand and create powerful dynamics can ruin a song. The end product can sound more like a group of independent musicians than an actual unified band.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do we get there too quickly? If you start the song with everything you have, you have nowhere to go!
  • Are we crowding each other? If the sound is muddy or the transitions seem like an erratic turnaround, decide as a group which instrument should carry that part.
  • Am I reinforcing or distracting from the melody? In church, you want your people to sing along, so anything that distracts from that is a problem.
  • Are we adding anything sonically? Sometimes, groups can all be playing in the same register and it gets muddy quickly. Work on the instruments and voices going across the spectrum (highs, mids, lows).
  • Are we creating space? There might be parts in the song where the best thing a person can do is not contribute. That space will allow a chance to build dynamics later in the song.