How To Use Dynamics pt. 1
In the next few days I’d like to discuss some ideas around dynamics. How to use dynamics, when to use them and what effect and impact they can have. This is the first part of a mini series all about dynamics.
Today we're focusing on dynamics in a musical group.
Dynamics Within A Song
When rehearsing or writing a song ask yourself where you want the climax of the song to be. Is that going to be the loudest part as well? Probably. But where do you position the Chorus? A little softer? Are there dynamic differences between repeated parts, such as 1st and 2nd verse? Usually the dynamics move up & down with the tension movement of a song. Asking yourself these questions will help you in taking musical decisions and they'll improve the overall sound of your music.
Dynamics Between Instruments; Shouldn’t this be the sound guy’s issue?
Every musician is in charge of listening to the overall mix of the band. Whether it is in an orchestra, a rock band or a duo. Whether it is on a big or small stage, in a club or during a rehearsal in your basement. Ask for feedback from the other band members and the audience. They have a different perspective than you do, so their input can be valuable, even if they’re not musically talented.
Within the song each instrument doesn’t always sit in the same place. Just think of the dynamic difference of the guitar during a verse versus during the guitar solo. The guitar has to turn up and take over the lead during the solo. The same happens during other parts of the song with every instrument. The dynamic differences aren’t as obvious as in this example, but they’re still there and they’re important.
Lead vs Rhythm Section
I like to think of the dynamic relation between lead and rhythm section kind of like sidechain compression. Let’s say we sidechain the vocals, which means that we compress the rhythm section every time the singer starts to sing. By having the rhythm section turn down just a little bit when the singer takes over, we give him or her room to fully take over and sit on top of the mix. It also helps refocus the audience’s attention to what’s important.
As part of the band you should always be aware of where you should sit in the mix and adjust your volume accordingly. This awareness helps even on big stages where you’d think that the mix is purely controlled by the engineer.
I hope these tips will help you in developing and improving the sound of your band.In the next few days we're continuing our focus on dynamics and we'll dig a little deeper in this powerful toolbox. We'll also be looking at how we as drummers can play more dynamically.