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View Full Version : Improvisation in worship music.



JeffN
11-20-2004, 10:27 PM
Hopefully, this doesn't go against site policy, but does anyone here play contemporary Christian rock? The church I go to started up a worship group of two guitars, bass, drums, piano, and I ended up being one of the two guitarists.

Almost all of these songs are made up of diatonic triads. There might be a dominant 7th here and there, but you won’t find anything crazy in there. This really limits the possibilities of improvising melodies at all. What do you guys suggest I try? The diatonic major works of course, but it starts to sound really bland after a while, especially since there’s almost a pattern that most of these songs follow in there structure. The only thing I could come up with was a modal approach, but I think that might be a bit hard on the listeners, who barely have an interest in music at all.

Malcolm
11-21-2004, 01:34 AM
Let's think a moment --- in a praise band who is doing the lead? The vocalist, and who is the vocalist-- the congregation. Do they sing the entire song, yep most of the time. No place for your improv solo.

I don't see a lead solo as we think of a lead solo being a part of praise music.

That's the way it works out at our service. Everyone backs-up the congregation's singing. Backs-up with chords or pure melody and the keyboard normally handles the melody.

How does it happen at your services, interesting to see how others do praise music.

JeffN
11-21-2004, 03:19 AM
This project is geared towards younger people, not for Sunday mornings. The stuff we'll be playing will be for youth. Forgot the mention that. Guitar solos during congregation...:D The pastor said that he wanted to see some Rock stuff going on, so solos and whatnot are a possibility.

Malcolm
11-21-2004, 01:10 PM
That being the case our Son-in-law is in a Christian Band -- Drums, Keyboard, electric and acoustic guitar plus a girl vocalist. Their music is the same as you would hear at any rock gig. The message is just different.

The kids love them, in addition to playing at church they also play at several "youth clubs". Randy says what goes over is the old standard church hymns put to rock - the kids like to sing along. Sounds like what your minister is asking for. Hitch hiking on this I think you will find that most old classic hymns are Major scale and use a good number of flatted scale/key - flats are easy for the congregation to sing - nothing says you can not change the key to liven things up.

As to what mode to play, I'd point you to the old standby, walk the modes, and decide on the mood you are looking for. Depends on the message, Good Friday - Locrian, Easter - Ionian or Dorian, Christmas - Ionian, etc.

Ionian = happy tranqual
Dorian = Sexy, attractive the happy minor
Phrygian = Exotic, Middle-Eastern, minor Spanish mode. Choice of Metal.
Lydian = Dreamy, your Major jazz mode.
Mixolydian = Major Latin, Spanish. Major blues chord progressions, etc.
Aeolian = basic sad or serious minor chord progressions
Locrian = Dark tense mode.

Good luck, I think you will have a great time.

Maarten
11-21-2004, 08:37 PM
I'm sorry, but that approach isn't very likely to work, most of these modes will clash with the simple harmonic background. I also don't agree with describing modes with emotions/feelings. They are soundscapes and the way you handle them creates the athmosphere.

As to the original question: Why would a major mode make for limited possibilities? Try to come up with good motives and melodies, try to play with chord tones and develop these small starting points. Work with rhythm, harmonise lines. A simple harmonic background and one scale give you the opportunity to work with the material you've got, to add some depth to your playing without having to worry about playing 1000 different scales.
Alsmost every folk song/children's song has a melody made from the major scale (or parallel minor), to give an example of the possibilities.

Sir Speedy
11-22-2004, 06:46 AM
right on bro,

That's some scarry stuff right there , Mal. Music is Music . My dad was on Jazz Christmas albums with a singing group. Are you going to tell me "Rock around the christmas tree" , souldn't have a "Blues scale" with "Blue notes" in it Because it's december ??? Come on !:D

any way, Well lets see ,in any music, if the key doesn't change if you have a repeted progression , and the Chorus and Verse are both ... Say ... A Minor, for example. the song is all A minor , and playing A minor sounds Bland and uninspired, Use E Phrigian , as the center of your ideas .

If C major is repeated use C lydian , steve vai and george Lynch Riffs.

If the G major key is repeted , don't play the obvious "G Major Scale ,NO!

Play E minor blues riffs

if it's E minor use E Dorian A mixo , and B minor

I hope this helps , i think those particular keys , sound totally lame , unless you use a substitute scale :eek:
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Malcolm
11-22-2004, 05:11 PM
I'm sorry, but that approach isn't very likely to work, most of these modes will clash with the simple harmonic background.

True, you have to pick the one that does fit. And ................


That's some scarry stuff right there , Mal. Music is Music . My dad was on Jazz Christmas albums with a singing group. Are you going to tell me "Rock around the christmas tree" , souldn't have a "Blues scale" with "Blue notes" in it Because it's december ??? Come on !


I think we are both saying the same thing. My reference to Good Friday, Easter, etc. is to point out how modes and moods can be used. You can play anything you want to any day of the year, help yourself.

In a worship setting I see Good Friday as tense, & dark, so if that is the mood you want, use a minor diminished chord progression and the Locrian mode. I suspect sheet music meant to be played on Good Friday will already have a suitable chord progression to match the mood, (major, minor, diminished, or whatever). Now on Easter the message is happiness so you want the song to be light & happy -- and I also suspect that sheet music meant for Easter will be in an appropriate Major key/scale/mode. I guess what I took for granted is that if you are using sheet music (fake chord or whatever) it would have been written in the correct major, minor format to pull off the message. I ponted out all the choices which was too much information....... I do tend to ramble.

From your posts it would seem that I've missed something important, and I am off track. if I'm missing something please nudges me back on track. Perhaps I'm in the forest and can not see the trees.

Sir Speedy
11-23-2004, 03:21 AM
Yes Malcom , i see what your saying , the Holiday has a "SoundTrack" I guss easter is a Kids Holiday , with kiddie tunes about Rabbits, though it has many Non secular Hyms that go with it as well . you could take many angles on this .
What JeffN seams to be saying is , this is a Youth Group so you can Play Rock . I mean wasn't King X the band that made Christian Contemparary, cool?

There's Christian Death Metal for Christ's sake , or well ,you know what i mean ...
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