23 June, 2009

How TO play the guitar with dynamics

In this post, I will attempt to answer the question above.

What is dynamics? Well, think of it as being able to use your guitar to express a lot of different feelings to people who listen to you playing it. Okay, that was a bit confusing. Let me try to explain myself a little clearer.

When a song is played on a guitar. A person playing it with no dynamics would just play it through with it all sounding the same. That is to say, the intro, verses, choruses and bridges all sound the same with the same volume, same feel etc. This would make the song boring and sometimes draggy.

Consider this: What if you play the song with dynamics? The same song that was played straight would sound much better. So then, how can this dynamics be achieved?

I can think of a few simple ways to achieve at least some sort of dynamics.

Intro
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The intro of the song can be really important. It kind of sets the mood to how the song will sound like. For example, if the song is a slow meditative song, it could start off with plucking of chords, instead of strumming. If the song is a fast lively song, you can start of by strumming full force.

Verses
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For soft songs, the plucking intro could proceed into the verse with plucking as well. This really sets the mood. For faster songs, you could even choose to die it down after doing a fast/lively intro. It's like bringing the song to a climax, then bringing it down to get people to focus on the words.

Choruses
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For both slow and fast songs, or for all songs for that matter, the chorus is always the part where it reaches the climax of the song. So, if you had been plucking for the intro and verses, this is where you build up at the end of the verse to strum at the chorus. Likewise for the fast song where the verse was played softer after the fast/lively intro. A simple build up is really to just use downstrokes to enter the choruses. You can listen to the example here. Notice how just before I reach the chorus, i use the downstrokes to get into it. Also, notice how the strumming patterns change.

Bridge
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The bridges for songs can really go both ways. Some people die down when it goes to the bridge while others continue its fast/level level. It's really up to you. A good practice would be to follow what you hear the original performers of the song you're playing does. If they climax there, you can do likewise.

So, that's basically if you're playing on your own with a guitar. When it comes to band dynamics (assuming you have a pianist, drummer and bassists), more dynamics can be achieved because all these other musical instruments can play their part at adding dynamics to the song too.

For myself, if I could put a general rule for dynamics to a song, I would put it something this:

1. Intro: Soft
2. Verse: Loud
3. Chorus: Loudest
4. If it's verse, back to 2.
5. Bridge: Soft or Loud

But remember, this is only a general rule. You can play around with the dynamics according to what feelings you want the congregation to feel, or what story you want to paint for them.

I hope this post has been of some help to those who were interested in knowing more about dynamics.

8 comments:

tygertang said...

great post and great blog! thx brother

Ciria said...

woah! this really helped A LOT.

thank you:)

Janeen said...

Guitar is such a nice musical instrument. However, it will take you a hard time to really play with it so well that is why you need to buy dvds online to guide you and make you learn from it.

jay said...

Thank you T_T

S James said...

good tip!

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