Musical Servanthood

How you craft a track as a band rather than a collection of single instruments.

One of the biggest killers to groove in music, to the unity that ties the elements of music together into a single event, is the lack of perspective. And it’s surprisingly easy to lose track of.

As band member, it is so easy to focus in on our particular instrument with too much emphasis and too high an opinion. But when creating music it is essential that we are able to step back and critique our instruments role in the piece of music as a whole. This is why bands will often work with a producer, who is able to see the whole picture, not just be lost in single parts.

This is the concept of musical servanthood. Musical Servanthood means sometimes you need to put down what you can be doing in order to do what must be done. It’s keeping in check the musical “ego”, so that what you do serves a greater cause. It’s being able to step back and play according to what the song requires.

Practically this means, even though you are a classically trained piano “shredder”, sometimes you need to play the pads (the synth equivalent of clouds). Even if you can teach Abe Laboriel a lesson or two, sometimes you need to play eighth notes all the way through this song. Sometimes you don’t…but it is determined by what the song requires. Often what the song requires is born out of what style is it written in. It is no use trying to play gospel chops in a folk song. Same time it is not musical servanthood when you are playing everything in straight eighth notes in a Israel and New Breed track.

Musical servanthood, laying down what you can play in order to play what must be played, is not a lack of creativity. I actually believe it is a fuller use of our creativity. It is redirected creativity. Your creativity isn’t going into how amazing a riff you can play so everyone knows how gifted you are. You creativity goes into conceiving the best riffs and best lines that will serve the song. Rather than making a song feel like a collection of soloists, try and make it about 1 band, 1 sound, 1 message through musical servanthood.

Some well crafted songs that show musical servanthood include:

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

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