Background Music

Background music is often needed when the pastor is speaking or praying in the midst of worship, or during altar call or ministry. The mood is often low and meditative (although it can go up, like United's Selah, maybe i'll blog about that in the future), but I find that many guitarists tend to use it as a 'show-off' soloing session.

Here are positive and negative examples:

  • Use some effects to make your sound more airy. In the video, I used delay. You can also use tremolo.
  • Use fills that aren't showy. Stick to simple and slow ones.
  • Play broken chords more often. The pianist is having enough trouble tying the music together, give a hand!
  • Flow with the band and worship lead. Your job is to enhance what is already present, and not to stand out like a sore thumb.
  • You'll drown out the pastor if you use a tone that is sharper than the pastor's voice. Lower your highs, and use less or no distortion.
  • Don't ever play blues! Bluesy riffs sound great because they are showy. It'd attract far too much attention.
  • Don't use bends, as they are showy and sound sharper and too aggressive.
  • If you're using distortion, don't do too much strumming and double notes as these sound strong.
In general, check your heart - are you trying to get attention and adoration, or do you sincerely want to build up the congregation and support the pastor? Everything you play must be directed at the latter. Check out Chris' article for more.

You can use the following mp3 to practice, its a really nice song called Over and Over by Paradise Community church, highly recommended!

If there are more suggestions, pls leave a comment, and I'll add it to the list.


Anonymous said...

was just wondering how i could download that song, i love these kind of songs when i do my quiet time..

Anonymous said...

Kenny, what you mean by broken chords?

Anonymous said...

better post the key of the song

Anonymous said...

ummm broken chords are chords that you don't do on like all strings, usually three. I like to use triads/piano chord shapes.

Anonymous said...

another something else thats good when you play in the background is on the neck pickup, i play it on my tele and it ads a really beautiful sound

Spinns said...

Something I'd like to add to this is when playing using minor chords/scales as well as other chord shapes like sus2 and maj7 really add to the atmosphere and are not as dominant as a standard major chord

Snake said...

For ministry times, I usually play leads around the singer's voice. I use a lot of volume swells and a lot of bends to give my guitar a soft, vocal quality... One thing I experience a lot when I'm being ministered to is getting annoyed at the lead guitarist for playing the same thing over and over. I lose focus on the speaker b/c of it! It's like someone letting their cell phone ring in service. So I try my best to avoid that.