For the longest time – I was the biggest advocate for virtuosity in Christian music–
Fire-Call (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
arguably most in worship music. In fact – I still am an advocate for this. If you check out my post back in March – I’m all for finding ways to make our worship music beautiful and ornate & I’m all against being complacent and not challenging ourselves to compose more smartly for the Kingdom.
But, when I was writing papers in college on ‘how‘ and ‘why‘ we should change the way praise & worship music is composed – I was missing one obvious characteristic
As much as I would love the congregations of the protestant church to dance a polyrhythm or sing modulations through a circle of mediants (uhh… what?) – The fact remains that they would have to learn the music before they could worship – and that whole act of learning these compositions would take time AND glory away from the Creator.
We must remember – Christianity isn’t North Korea. We don’t have to put on a show to please a dictator.
We don’t have to do more. Jesus already loves us.
In fact, our worship music is often best when it is reflective of His very yoke – Easy
Photo credit: Wikipedia
I can only imagine how many have been won & saved by simple 4 (or less) chords & 4/4 time signature worship songs.
- How He Loves – John Mark McMillan
- Break Every Chain – Will Reagan
- Name Above Every Other Name – Justin Rizzo
- Where You Go I Go – Brian Johnson
- You Won’t Relent – Misty Edwards
- Sweetest Name – Will Reagan
- Revelation Song – Jennie Lee Riddle
- Our God is Greater – Chris Tomlin
the list goes on…
The more accessible we compose our worship music, the easier God can be felt coming through the mix speaking to us.
In light of this, I’m nearly convicted to write a 2 chord worship song and make it extravagant!
Mastro EBow (Photo credit: pmonaghan)
Over the years of playing guitar for worship services/bands, I’ve come across a number of effects and techniques that I’ve incorporated into worship that have proven very effective musically. If you play guitar for your church, even if it’s acoustic, you’re sure to find some goodies here!
- Looping – I am the biggest advocate of incorporating this into a guitarist’s repertoire. Loops machines are especially useful with how repetitive the chord progressions are in worship music, it’s super effective to build upon yourself, especially if you’re part of a smaller worship band. But, you have to be tight & stay on that beat!
- Phaser – While you shouldn’t turn it completely up in your mix OR make it oscillate too fast, it’s a great way to change the dynamic between a verse and bridge. Personally, I put it at about 50% mix and have it move just above the slowest setting to kinda get that HP (high pass) filter swirly effect.
- Say…Wah – The Wah Pedal can be so cliche sometimes BUT, if you use it to simply to change the filter without pushing the pedal up & down so often – it offers a great texture change, especially in combination with a delay. Zakk Wylde has been known to keep the wah completely forward to give his solos more presence.
- Swell – There are single effect units that accomplish this, but I’ve found using a delay & a volume pedal (or even your volume knobs) works great. This is great during response times while the pastor is still speaking or even above a slow but solid bass & drum foundation.
- Tremelo like a Rhodes – If you’ve ever heard a Rhodes Piano using tremelo, you know what I’m talking about. It’s very easy to make a clean guitar sound like this using a Bias tremelo effect. – Probably one of the most unique & accessible things you can do to help bring people to the intimate place in worship. – Here’s an audio reference of a Rhodes – ‘Portishead – “Roads“
- Harmony – One of two ways you can do this. Harmony FX are manufactured as single pedals and are even part of multi-fx pedals like my POD HD300. You can change the key and should be able to seamlessly perform melodies with automated 3rds, 4ths, octaves..whatever. Another way to do is – refer back to #1 – Play a melody – loop – play its harmony & booyah!
- E-Bow – A wonderful invention. Period. The E-Bow is a device you use, almost like a pick; however, only above the strings over the pickups to create a controlled-feedback of sorts. The result is almost like a synthesized string sound. Indeed, it’s a cool tool for the guitarist seeking a wider palette. Here’s a video reference – Phil Keaggy – Amazing Grace
- Sonar Style Delay – It’s hard for us guitarist to simplify things sometimes… perhaps only playing one note every 2 measures? Achhh- BUT it’s effective, especially using a delay that’s in sync with the tempo. Minimalism has its advantages – and gives you a lot of room to grow. Check out the use of the single note delay used above the band’s texture in Hillsong Live’s – Love Like Fire
- Octave Displacement – What? Oh, A Whammy Pedal – Very similar to a wah pedal in its physical feel, it controls pitch. Oftentimes, the pedal/effect will allow you to choose the range, such as octaves, 5ths, sub-octave. It isn’t all that practical for chords, but it sings so well and is a game changer for single-note melodies and solos!
- Slide it! – I most certainly don’t hear enough guitarists implement this into their playing, and you don’t have to play country or blues to appreciate it. What other way can you totally negate the fact that you have frets? That’s a huge texture change & it can be implemented with any number of effects. In fact, John Mark McMillan’s ‘How He Loves‘ often features a slide.
Do you have effects or techniques you use to switch things up in praise of the King? Even if it isn’t for guitarists explicitly, Don’t forget to share it!