Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Making your worship sound 'bigger' when going solo or as a duo

Not enough sound coming from just your voice and acoustic?

One of the things that happens when you lead worship on your own or perhaps with just a couple of you, is that you may find the sound isn't as full as it can be. This happens with myself and a friend who play acoustic together. This is where worship pads can sit in the mix underneath your playing.

But if that isn't enough, you have a few options...

1. BeatBuddy

You can use something like the BeatBuddy to add beats for different parts of the song. This is one thing I do.

Advantage is that you can programme to play different parts of each song. Disadvantage is that you need to programme it using the computer - and then work it (correctly!) when using live. This takes practice but adds a lot as it plays back real drum samples.

2. Stomp Drum

You can use a stomp box / stomp drum (same thing). I use one from Beat Root (off ebay) which is pretty good but needs some sub bass and EQ-ing to get a good sound. My friend uses a slightly bigger and better one from Acoustim8 off Amazon. A professional musician friend uses an even better one from Logjam (the Logarhythm).

The advantage is that you can play it and choose when to come in. You can get different sounds depending on where you stomp down. The disadvantage is that it's only one sound (a 'kick drum') and it can get tiring on the foot / leg playing it! You may also need to tie it down as it can often move meaning you're dragging it back towards you mid song!

To go to the next level of this idea, one worship leader once had a kick drum as the main beat and got the bass player to play a tambourine on the floor (mic'd up with a ton of reverb) as the 'snare'.

3. Multi-instruments

I have one friend who manages (brilliantly) to play a keyboard with one hand playing the basic melody line or the chords - and a cajon with the other hand. This provides a great extra bit of sound with two sound sources. He also sometimes uses a Novation Mininova in the background as a 'pads' sound, or jumps between his keys and the Mininova.

Another friend has used a Mininova as a bass sound for a band, while using his electric guitar (with a ton of reverb) and playing the Mininova with one hand and using a capo to play strings in the right key with the other hand on his guitar.

I have often done a combo of a pads on a MIDI keyboard using MainStage and guitar.

On a more limited level, you can use more than one sound source for 'pads' for example two iPads or a synth (holding down the sustain pedal) plus a synth. Or could run a MIDI pad triggering drum samples and pads.

Advantage is having two sounds - the disadvantage is that you need to be able to do this well and it may prove too much for some. Tricky to sing at the same time too!

4. Pads with strings, sounds, and beats

One final idea that I use is to programme in my pads sounds from Logic but also add in a beat at a fixed tempo. I then organise a worship set with songs in a certain key and with the same kinds of tempos. This is played back from the iPad in OnSong.

So as one example I did pads in E and put together a beat in Logic at 75bpm. I then used this to play back a few songs with similar tempos in the key of E - for example '10,000 Reasons' and 'What A Beautiful Name' and 'This Is Our God' and 'King Of My Heart' then 'When I Survey' (Tim Hughes version).

I have also done some specific timed songs - such as Reckless Love (Cory Asbury) or Guardian (Ben Cantelon).

There is also a backing track for the KXC song 'Sing It Out (He's Alive)'.

To this end, I put some of my backing tracks like this onto Youtube in case they could be useful for anyone else. You can find them below...

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