How To Use Dynamics pt. 4
We’ve talked a lot about dynamics. In today’s post I want to leave you with a few open questions, just so you have something to think about. There’s no right or wrong in music. But it is important to remember that the more consciously we make decisions, the better we can express ourselves and the better we get our point across.
One of my all time favorite words. Contrast is a powerful concept that is often used for meaningful musical expression. We can create powerful contrast with dynamics.
Most often verses are softer than choruses, that’s one way to use dynamic contrast. But that’s not all; there are so many more possibilities. What if you contrast two choruses? Play the first chorus loud and the chorus after the next verse soft? What if the verses are loud and the choruses are soft? What if in the first verse you play soft and the second you play loud? Can you contrast a loud Bassdrum with a quiet Bassguitar?
Dynamic contrast can help you directing the audience’s attention to what you want them to focus on. Careful though because that doesn’t mean that they’re going to focus to what’s loud!
Let’s say you’re in a loud guitar solo and it goes on forever. Once it finishes, the dynamics go abruptly down. That’s exactly the moment when the audience is going to refocus. During the long and loud guitar solo the audience’s attention has been saturated and long ago they stopped being attentive. But by dropping the dynamics abruptly you wake them up and redirect their focus to whatever you want. It can be the bassline that now sticks out because everything else is quiet. or it can be something else. Anything you want.
Take a look at your performance, where do you want it to go, what’s it’s message? Create a dynamic story that has a path. Look at your performance, let’s say it is a 45min set with 12 songs.
How do you set the songs together? One way of arranging them could be by looking at each song’s dynamic range. Where do you want the peak, where do you want the lowest point of the performance to be? Do you want to kick it off with a loud song or do you want to introduce your soundscapes slowly with a softer tune? How are you going to end? Are you letting the performance fade out?
Move on to the songs. How does each song develop dynamically? Is the end the loudest part and if not, where is it? What does the dynamic curve of the song look like? Can I follow a song that has a soft ending with a song that has a soft intro or do I want to contrast the ending with an intense and loud intro?
I encourage you to explore all the dynamic possibilities that there are out there. Use dynamics in your music, in your songs, in your drumming. Exaggerate them and surprise people. When used purposefully It can be a powerful tool for us to express ourselves .
I think it is obvious that this subject isn’t even close to being covered and books could be written about it. I hope though that you could learn something from this mini series. If you have any inputs you are more than welcome to leave a comment or contact me directly.