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The Praise and Worship Team Instant Tune-Up
By Doug Flather Tami Flather
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGive Your Playing a Tune-Up
In This Chapter You Will Learn
How to get that thick, professional sound with contemporary chord substitutions.
Chord substitutions for keyboardists.
Chord substitutions for guitarists.
Easy ways to spice up your music by changing keys.
Quick tips: do's and don'ts for players.
Introduction to This Chapter
This chapter is designed to help you be more like the musicians described in 1 Chronicles 25. In that passage, we are told the musicians who played at the house of God played skillfully.
"Played skillfully." We, like David, should insist that the band playing in the house of God be skillful. While there may be such a thing as musical giftedness, you will find that most professional musicians agree that skillful playing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
Let's face it: There is a big difference between sounding like a sloppy garage band and sounding like a well-rehearsed, well-tuned team. Some people suggest that there are only three things you can do to give your playing a tune-up: practice, practice, and practice.
We partly agree. Of course you have to practice. We all have to practice. No one should expect to sound great on Sundays after letting their instrument sit idle and gather dust all week.
However, there are a number of tips, tricks, and "trade secrets " professional musicians use to help get that thick adult contemporary sound. All professional musicians use them. Whether they learned them playing in a nightclub trio before they came to Christ or picked them up at a church musician's conference, professional musicians have their little bag of tricks that sets their music apart.
The good news for you is that most of these so-called trade secrets can be rather easy to learn! Sure, you'll have to work hard at first to "get them in your fingers," but you can learn them. Remember, there was a time when those professionals you admire so much didn't know them. One by one, they picked them up. Here's your opportunity.
Like the other chapters in this book, we will begin with several longer sections. You should work through the material in these longer sections slowly, carefully, and methodically. This is the material that will make a lasting impact on the way you do things, so take your time.
At the end of this chapter you will find a series of do's and don'ts for players. If you need a quick fix, fresh idea, or you just don't like details, this section is for you. Some of the ideas you'll agree with. Some you won't. But like it or not, this is the kind of material that effective contemporary musicians know and put into practice.
How to Get That Thick, Professional Sound with Contemporary Chord Substitutions
If you have spent any time listening to contemporary praise and worship musicians play, you no doubt noticed their music sounds big. Then, like all of us, you went out and purchased praise and worship songbooks, started playing from them, and suddenly noticed something. Your music didn't quite sound the same. In fact, even though you played exactly what was written in the songbook, your playing sounded sort of insubstantial and thin.
Here's why: Many (if not most)professional musicians rarely play plain old major, minor, and seventh chords. They play chord substitutions instead. In other words, although the music calls for a D chord, seasoned musicians often substitute something else like D Major9 2nd inversion.
So why doesn't the music call for a D Major9 2nd inversion? Companies that publish songbooks know that most people who buy songbooks have no idea what a D Major9 2nd inversion is, so they print the plain old D chord. That plain old D chord will work, it just sounds ... well, plain.
Ready for some great news? This book is going to show you scads of those secret fat chords the pros use. You will find two parts here-one for keyboardists and one for guitarists.
Someone once said, "Learning and using new chords is like getting new shoes: They are uncomfortable at first, but then you break them in and before you know it they feel great!"
Now before you glance ahead, read this carefully: Go slow. Take your time. Don't try to learn too many at once. Remember, that plain old D chord has served you pretty well all these years.
Before you start using chord substitutions during worship, you must make sure you can nail them. You must be able to play them cleanly, perfectly, without thinking, and without hesitation. When you drive your car, you don't have to pause and look to see where the brake pedal is. You just know. That is the way your chord substitutions have to be before you go public. If you can't snatch them spontaneously, wait.
Test Your Readiness
Make a set of flash cards. It may sound childish, but there is no better way to drill. Here is what you do: Put the names of the chords you are learning on cards, mix them up, then spread them out and try to play them in a rapid succession. Keep this book nearby for reference in case you need to peek. Look at the following illustration.
As you drill your new chords, it is a good idea to work with a metronome or drum machine. The absolute, undisputed best way to master your new chords is to slow the tempo down to a crawl. Then, ever so gradually, move the speed up notch by notch.
Learning new chords is frustrating for many people. However, if you practice slowly at first, incrementally increasing the tempo, you will develop what is known as "muscle memory." In other words, your fingers will seem to develop a mind of their own that enables them to grab those flashy new chords effortlessly.
Chord Substitutions for Keyboardists
Everybody knows when it comes to playing keyboards, it's different strokes for different folks. You might be a classically trained piano major with a broad and deep understanding of music theory. On the other hand, some of you have studied jazz, and you know your intervals and scales inside and out. Not you? Maybe you are the kind of player who knows a few chords, kind of watches the music, and improvises her way through, or perhaps you just play by ear.
The ideas included in this chapter are designed to help you wherever you are along the musical skill continuum. First, we will explain the ideas, then we will show you what notes to play.
Take your time. Be patient with yourself. There is only one magic formula for improving your playing-practice!
The Big Idea Is Adding Secret Ingredients
We love to grill food. Take hamburgers for example. While it is fine to take some ground beef, make patties, and slap them on the grill, that won't do at our house. Whenever we grill hamburgers, we use two secret ingredients. First, we mince a few slices of onion. Then we get some Worcestershire sauce and gently fold the ingredients into the ground beef. We automatically do it this way every time. The idea of serving plain hamburger just isn't a part of our culinary experience. When we serve these hamburgers to guests, they consistently ask, "Why don't the hamburgers I cook at home taste like these?" Doug and I just smile at each other and shrug our shoulders.
You get the idea. Simple additions make a noticeable difference. Want to make your music sound bigger and thicker? Add one or more notes to the basic chords in your music. It is that simple.
For example, whenever you see a major chord in the music, play the major, but add a secret ingredient to it: the 2nd. Didn't sound quite right in your song? Try a different ingredient instead: add in the 6th. Some of you reading right now have no idea what a 2nd or 6th is. Relax, because we will spell it out for you in the charts that follow.
For those of you who do play by chord symbols, get used to these basic principles:
Automatically add in one of these-the 2nd, 6th, or Major 7th. Just get used to doing it. Trust your ears, and you are likely to find that adding the 2nd should become your de facto standard when playing contemporary music.
Automatically add in the dominant 7th and/or the 2nd. For example, Em becomes Em7+2. Your chords will always sound bigger this way, and you can play this alongside a plain minor chord. So if your guitarist can't handle it, let him play the plain minor while you blend in the 7th and 2nd. It will sound fine because your added notes-secret ingredients-embellish the cord.
Dominant 7th Chords
Automatically add in the 2nd for more thickness, or try flatting the 9th for a sassier sound.
Before you know it, only playing plain major, minor, and dominant 7th chords will gradually disappear from your musical vocabulary. Ready to get specific?
How to Use the Keyboard Charts
Let's get down to business and take some of these chords for a test drive! Carry this book to your keyboard or piano. Continue reading until we get to the charts. If you are new to these chords, they might feel and sound a little awkward at first. Stick with them. You will find as you start using them, you will begin wondering how you ever lived without them.
Excerpted from The Praise and Worship Team Instant Tune-Up by Doug Flather Tami Flather Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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