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The Music Schop is a resource for worship musicians and pastors. Song analysis of popular worship songs, theory lessons, reviews of worship resources, and tips and tricks for drummers, keyboard players, guitar players, bass players – the entire band. Written by Chris Schopmeyer.

Guitar Pedal Order

Becoming a great electric guitar player is hard: 

  • You must know chords in many different shapes and inversions.
  • You must be able to create interesting parts.
  • You must be able to improvise a solo.
  • You must understand signal chain.
  • You must understand rhythms and delays.
  • You must be a technician to troubleshoot gear.
  • You must be able to think like a producer, intuitively knowing when to play, when not to play, what to play, how much to play, and with what effects to play through.

  • You must be an engineer understanding things like EQ, compression, and distortion. 
  • And I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

I'm sure electric guitar players reading will rate themselves at differing levels for each of these disciplines – we are all in different places of experience and training. 

Signal Chain

One piece of the puzzle that up-and-coming players often get wrong is signal chain – or put more simply, in what order should these pedals go. 

I found a nice guitar blog with this great image and a well-written reasoning behind this signal chain. Check it out here

I am not a pro guitarist, so please let me know if you disagree with his signal chain. Tell me why in the comments!

Symbols and Worship

Our modern world values simple, scientific objectivity. We love to watch reality television, Food Network, or ESPN. In this modern age we’ve lost touch of the artistic and dramatic. We’ve lost our appreciation for expressing feelings and intuition symbolically. 

Could we reclaim this in our lives and in our worship? 

I have written a post for Pinelake's Reservoir Campus website. I've been studying about the history of worship lately, and I've realized I don't respect the symbols of worship as much as I should. Check out the post for more.

Speaking of studying, I have started working on a Masters Degree and will be tied up for the next two weeks writing two lengthy papers. I will be posting shorter pieces and links to other sites during this time. 

Guide to a Great Vocal: Pitch, Pocket, and Passion

Image via: 123rf

Image via: 123rf

Bobby Owsinski's "Big Picture Production Blog" has a great post today on vocal performances. While the piece is written for the context of the studio, it has great application to live vocals as well.

"In the studio, the three P’s, pitch, pocket and passion, are what a producer lives by. You’ve got to have all three to have a dynamite vocal. And while Pitch and Pocket problems can be fixed by studio trickery, if you don’t have Passion, you don’t have a vocal. On stage, the three P’s apply maybe even more so, since you don’t have any of the cut and paste and autotune advantages of the studio to fall back on.  Let’s take a look inside the three P’s.

In the age of Auto-Tune, it takes only a passing interest in music to know the importance of pitch in a vocal performance. Passion is also an obvious function of a great vocal. But what most people miss is the idea of "pocket" – singing the vocal with great time and groove. 

The Pocket means singing in time and in the “groove” (the rhythm) of the song. You can be in pitch, but if you’re wavering ahead or behind the beat it won’t feel right. All of the things that help instrumentalists, like dynamics, turnarounds and articulations, apply to vocals as well. Concentrate on the downbeat (on beat 1) to get your entrances. Concentrate on the snare drum (on 2 and 4) to stay in the pocket.

Read the entire post here

[This will be my only post this week. Happy Thanksgiving!]

Theory Thursday: Part Seven, The Major Scale

For several weeks we’ve been discussing horizontal music, how music works in time. This week we return to vertical music: what is the framework of pitches on which we build our songs?

pic- horizontal and vertical axis.png

Review

So far in the music theory series we’ve learned the following about pitches: 

  • Pitches are frequencies: vibrations moving through the air measured in cycles per second (hertz). 
  • Octaves are created every time we double a frequency. The pitch A is 220hz. We perceive 440hz as the same pitch, just higher – an octave higher. 
  • Western music has split each octave into 12 tones, or half steps. This can be easily seen on the piano.

[If this is new to you, read part two of the series on whole steps and half steps before going further.]

Screen Shot 2012-09-21 at 1.02.44 PM.png

Scales

Rarely does a piece of music use all twelve pitches. Rather, we build our songs around seven notes of a scale. 

There are many types of scales. In part two of this series I gave you this audio example:

  1. C major 
  2. C harmonic minor 
  3. C dorian
  4. C whole-tone 

5. C minor pentatonic 
6. C mixolydian
7. C major

Each of these scales have a unique color. What is it that sets them apart from each other? It is the pattern of whole steps and half steps. 

The Major Scale

The modern worship, pop, or rock player can go extremely far by simply understanding the major scale.

Tonalities outside the major scale have never been used widely in popular music, but today their use is even more rare. 

For instance, I remember as a kid we'd sing minor songs in church.

We don't sings songs like that any more. 

Nearly 100%of the songs played in worship services today are in a major key using a major scale. (There are exceptions, like “Revelation Song” that is built around a mixolydian scale.) 

What is the major scale?

The major scale is simply a collection of whole steps and half steps. The major scale is built as follows: W W H W W W H. Rather than writing about it, I decided a video would be the best vehicle to discuss it today. 

Conclusion

The major scale is the framework for pitches in modern worship music. If you do not know your major scales in all twelve keys, what are you waiting on?

People that do not know or understand their major scales are at a severe disadvantage: they are managing 12 tones for every song when they only need to worry about seven. 

Knowing and internalizing your major scales has a huge payoff. Between muscle memory and cognitive understanding, you should find fewer wrong notes, more command of your instrument, and better memorization of songs. 

Why Ownership Matters: A Guest Post at DavidSantistevan.com

I have a guest post today on the worship leadership blog DavidSantistevan.com. God has been revealing this concept of ownership in our worship teams over the past year to me and other Pinelake pastors. I am excited to share it with my regular readers and the broader audience at David's fantastic site. Check it out

Visitors from DavidSantistevan.com:

Welcome! TheMusicSchop.net explores the music of worship. Check the About page for more on the heartbeat of the site. Also, try clicking a category that interests you in the right sidebar.

Gungor and The Beatles

As I was writing the song analysis for Gungor's "People of God", I started thinking about The Beatles' influence on the music of Gungor. I searched for Beatles songs on YouTube and ended up at this video for "All You Need Is Love". While I watched the video and thought about the lyrics, I had to ask the question: Did Gungor interject Beatles-esque musical elements into "People of God" as an allusion to "All You Need Is Love"?   Read More

Displacing the Dotted Eighth Note, A Guitar Analysis for Hillsong Live's "Endless Light"

[This post originally appeared in July of 2012, shortly after Cornerstone was released. It has been a popular post. I have updated it with new links to the latest resources.]

This weekend my church is introducing "Endless Light", the happy opener from the Hillsongs Live Albumn Cornerstone. This song is anchored by a distinctive electric guitar part. Check out the rhythm below; it's a little different. 

The Dotted Eighth Note 

This rhythm was not immediately clear to me. I had to rewind more than once, but I quickly realized it is our old friend: the dotted eighth note. Yes, worship music's best friend is here in a fresh incarnation. 

A review of the dotted eighth note: 

  • First, its most familiar use among electric players: delay. 

  • Second, the foundational strumming pattern a generation of worship was built on it. 

  • And, in case you don't hear it, check out "Open The Eyes" with the delay superimposed on top. 
 

"Endless Light" Is The Dotted Eighth Note Displaced

The "Endless Light" rhythmic guitar groove is the same dotted eighth rhythm, just displaced by an eighth note. Instead of starting the rhythm on the downbeat of one, it is starting on the upbeat of one (the 'and'). Here are three clips to demonstrate: 

  1. The typical dotted eighth as heard above
  2. The typical dotted eighth displaced so it starts on the 'and' of one
  3. The typical dotted eighth displaced, then superimposed on "Endless Light"

The Money Tip

Listen one more time to the "displaced" example above. Notice it lands on beat three. When learning a rhythm like this, look for anchors: notes to aim for when mastering a difficult rhythm. For "Endless Light" the anchors are: 

  • "And" of one, the first fingerpick  
  • Beat three, the third fingerpick

To Master This: 

  • Start by practicing just the anchors, leaving out the other notes (i.e. two fingerpicks per bar). Then add the other notes once you have that mastered. If you get the anchors, you can fudge the rest if needed. 
  • If you are having trouble nailing the "and" of one, try grunting on beat one. I'm not kidding. I think of syncopation like that as bouncing off the beat, so feeling the beat internally with a grunt helps me nail the upbeat. Try it. 

Resources

Find tracks I've created to practice this rhythm with here. 

  • The practice tracks have the drum loop with a static guitar riff playing the rhythm. This only covers the verse groove. You can play all of the chords over the static riff. You'll hear the track in the background if you want to follow along. It is at three different tempos. I believe if you can't play it slowly, you can't play it.

[UPDATE - 11/2012]

Rehearsalmix.com has released practice tracks from the original recording sessions. Definitely check these out. 

Worshipartistry.com has also released a training video for this song.


Note On Audio Examples

  • Please note that I used a delay in the examples because that is familiar to many electric players. The pattern is actually fingerpicked (or a hybrid technique), not utilizing a delay in the manner of the audio examples. With that said, the original track has a bit of dotted 8th delay synced to the tempo.