Your band has learned the song. You have all the chords right and your team is locking in together on the rhythm. The singers are on pitch and it seems like everything is right, but yet the song still is missing that special emotional connection.
Here are three simple tools you can use to help add more emotion and interest to a song: Texture, Timbre, and Dynamics.
- Texture. Change the texture of the music. In other words, use different instrumentation. This is the most common mistake inexperienced band members make. They want to play all the time and they want to add as many notes as possible. When composers write out a full score they carefully consider the instrumentation at each section of the music. Simply using more or less instruments can significantly change the mood of a section. A second way to change the texture is to change the amount of notes played by an instrument. Instead of completely removing an instrument have it play only one note per chord.
- Timbre. Timbre, pronounced Tam-ber, is the tone color produced by an instrument or group of instruments. Texture is about how many instruments are being played, timbre is about the tone color produced by the instruments. Your use of texture can quickly change the overall timbre of a section. So as you are thinking about texture consider what tone color you want in this section. A change from full band to piano only (texture change) will significantly alter the timbre and mood of a section. But so will a simple change from guitar to piano, or piano to a synthesizer pad. The thickness of the texture (number of instruments) has not changed, but the timbre has changed dramatically.
- Dynamics. Although the number of instruments playing can have some effect on dynamics, you should also remember that dynamics can change even with the same instruments. Almost all amateur musicians struggle with using the full dynamic range of their instrument. The greater the dynamic range you can play, the greater the potential emotional impact you have available. When your band can express the full range of dynamics you will have greatly expanded your musical tool chest.
In your next band rehearsal give these three tools a try: Texture, Timbre and Dynamics.
Questions: What other techniques have you used to add more emotional interest to a song?
by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory
Worship Director at Crosspointe Church