Removing Overtones to Get to the Fundamental

Written by  on March 4, 2011 

It was accurately pointed out to me today that I needed to clarify or answer for a couple things in my “Putting the Fun in Fundamental” blog post from a little while back. I confess that blogging is a dangerous activity for those of us given to passive-aggressive tendencies, as it allows us to just throw stuff out to the world and feel safer from the consequences of our actions. But there are consequences for making generalizations without clarification or reflection, so here we go:

1.  The implied criticism against church musical & outreach leadership was a generalization and not about any particular church that I have been directly associated with. I do think we need to be careful about value judgments that are made about a person’s ability to be effective in ministry based on externals, and I wouldn’t give the time of day to a church that would do so this blatantly.  Obviously even I have my limits to accepting a person’s externals, but I sincerely try not to let it get in the way.

2.  My lament of the lack of musical “meat” (versus “milk” – see Hebrews 5) in modern worship songwriting and arranging is not so much from a “keep the musicians stimulated by letting them do complicated stuff even if they annoy the congregation in the process” perspective; it’s more from a place of “if they only are presented with the basics, then they’ll never develop the skills they need to develop musically and write their own arrangements for their instruments”.  That said, some sub-points:

a.  I think the simple arrangements give great opportunity for newer players to get involved easily.  I can imagine throwing “Blessed Be Your Name” at a first-year bassist.  Can’t say the same for “Mourning Into Dancing“.  (But I do miss playing that one.)

b.  I will quite often ask my bassists to simplify!  (Gasp! Betrayal of the Brotherhood of Bottom End!) The problem I find here in most cases is that, because of the lack of variety in style presented to them by the “worship market”, they don’t have good examples available of a) when to play simply other than quarter notes, b) how to play simply other than quarter notes, and c) appropriate/musical/tasty ways of playing complicated parts which then end up sounding like mush.  I don’t blame these guys at all; my main critique here in the video is blaming the arrangers/producers.  (And I’ve been in those roles too, and guilty of the same.)

c.  Regarding the lack of examples in part b), I have a future blog post with positive examples of each of these techniques.  I will definitely be going outside the area of CCM/worship for this, although I’ll try to find them where I can.

Most of the responses I received from the community have been “right on!” but I know there were cases where people implied that I was talking about specific churches including my own.  I’m happy to say that it’s not the case, and I’m sorry if I’ve offended or caused anyone grief over this.  Please feel free to leave comments here or contact me privately.


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