The Electric Guitar & 2 Cents on Music Arrangement

I forgot to mention in the last post that by guitar i tend to think “Acoustic Guitar” (steel strings?!). I’ve never been a great fan of the Electric Guitar as compared to the Acoustic Guitar but I’ve grown to be an admirer, that’s for sure.

Last night, we had our second (and my first) 50th LCMS Anniversary Worship Rehearsal. Though I’m not part of the band, I was appointed co-music director with Sock Ming (from Damansara Utama Lutheran Church), I used the Luther House electric guitar to teach them “Doa untuk Malaysia” and filled in when the acoustic guitar player James (from Salak South Lutheran Church) had to go early. It was fun … to fill in notes here and there, do some of my pseudo-the-Edge-U2-influenced stuff … i.e. droning notes! I’ve always flowed along well with Philip (from Setapak Lutheran Church), his steady funk-rock laced ghost-notes and rhythm just gets me bubbling. I miss his drumming a lot.

Overall, we worked through the songs generally. I guess it’s just how can we play more as a band than as individuals. I think this is a constant struggle for church musicians because we are usually playing alone or without much “arrangement-thinking” thus focusing on what we are doing ourselves but not how the whole band plays as a unit. So more work there.

I liked Ed Kerr’s free rhythm charts for 3/4 and 4/4 beats on the net. It helped me quickly write out the chords for “Doa untuk Malaysia” and begin to practice basic “arrangement-thinking”. I guess that helped me in my short electric guitar stint last night …. any I was using the only few bag of old tricks I knew … but when you use it with passion and some creativity it’s still rewarding!

A quick thought popped in my mind when I was driving past UM. The Music Arrangement is suppose to serve the song and the lyrics and not draw too much attention on the flowery embellishments it supplies. So, often I think the music I hear from Malaysian Worship Albums tend to this danger, I think Malaysian Live worship bands also has this tendency (I’m not impressed!). Ok! Much of modern worship music globally is in danger (let’s be fair). The arrangements are meant to enhance the song and not just get people in awe of the awesome chord structures, syncopated rhythms and ingenius ideas. I still believe in creativity – but its creativity with character especially in a worship context – please not creativity with chaos or creativity to impress. Just two cents worth of whatever …

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