Monday, April 21, 2008

fitting into the band - part 1 - making a song

I think it's easy to get wrapped up in effects, scales, and interesting chords and forget the most basic thing we, as electric guitar players, should be asking ourselves when we play: "What am I adding to this song?"

Call me new-agey but I like to think of a song as an intangible "thing" out there. It's an idea, an emotion, or a feeling, and our job as a band is to express that "thing" in a way people can get or feel. That might sound weird but it frees us up. Now we can think of a song as more than chords and melody, and more than just playing back the sounds we hear on a CD. Now we're making art and expression. Now we can try to find new ways to bring the song out.

The goal of any band is to be greater than the sum of it's parts. By that I mean if you take five people playing something musical and put them all together, the result would be something bigger than just adding up their individual music. It's like in Gladiator when they're fighting the chariots, Russell Crowe tells them to stay together and lock shields. The eight of them act as one and are stronger than they would be as eight individuals. In a band we need to become one musically and make something bigger than ourselves.

We can do this by knowing when to play and when not to play, knowing our instruments role in the song, not stepping on other instruments toes (frequency-wise), and moving as a band.

These idea is rarely talked about during rehearsal or in guitar lessons. It's something I learned from playing in concert bands (the kind with tubas and flutes) and from mixing and producing studio music. I'm sure a lot of people intuitively do a lot of the things I'll discuss but hopefully putting it into words will bring it new light. Check back for the next few posts and make lots of comments, I want to hear what you think!

Part 1 - making a song
Part 2 - knowing when and when not to play
Part 3 - knowing our role
Part 4 - Moving as a band

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