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Serve The Song

July 1, 2013

Hold up! Before you play that drum fill, guitar lick, or crazy bass groove you have to ask yourself one question: Does it serve the song? Last post, we talked about musicians taking up too big of a piece of the pie (or too little). In a similar vein, let’s talk about serving the song.2013-7-1

What do I mean by “serve the song?” Simple. It’s like being a waiter/waitress. You must cater to whatever the song calls for. You must do what it asks. If the song doesn’t want a lemon in its water, then don’t put a lemon in its water.

Too many times, we are focused on how the song can serve us. We think things like, “Where can I find a spot to throw in this amazingly fast drum fill?” “How much lighting sweep picking can I fit into the guitar solo spot?” If these are the kind of things we think about, we are asking the wrong questions. In those questions, the focus is on us. It’s selfish and we’re all guilty of it. Instead, we need to look at what is appropriate for whatever particular piece of music we are playing.

All of us already do this to some extent. We play slow/soft on a ballad and fast/loud on a rocker. But I believe good musicians get more specific than that. EVERYTHING they do serves the song. That drum fill perfectly accents guitar riff, or that lead guitar lick fits right over the chord changes. Don’t be afraid to hold back, because overplaying can become a muddled mess. Make every crash and/or note intentional because you are focused on making great, concise music.

What about you? Do you think about serving the song? When is your next band practice, and how can you begin to think of applying this mindset to your playing? I guarantee, the whole band will sound better. Give it a shot!

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