Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Dynamics and playing  (Read 3261 times)

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Dynamics and playing
« on: May 28, 2008, 10:01:01 AM »
Hi all,
Once again, in the continuing education of my son as a guitar player, I talked to him about dynamics.  A seemingly obvious topic, but something I always look for first, whenever I see any band play. I think of dynamics as feel. Lack of dynamics, (in the case of many bands), usually means constantly playing at one, (usually too loud), level.  Dynamics also means putting the focus on the right thing at the right time. When I hear playing that lacks dynamics, I know that there is no real understanding or context to the performance. I have a feeling that they're just playing notes and not getting it. For you shredders: Even the most intense playing can have dynamics. Usually good arrangements will build that in.

A parent's note: I try to bring this stuff up to my son at the right moment, in a lighthearted way, and try not to sound preachy. [:)]
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline bno

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2008, 11:01:19 AM »
Nah, I just lecture them with the wagging finger.  It's the most effictive disciplinary method I've found.  And I've tried lashings, water boarding, electroshock, hiding the controllers to the Playstation; "Do you want a lecture?" gets compliance every time....

I think part of this phenom is due to the flatness of most recorded material nowadays.  In order to sound as loud as possible everything is just squashed to death.  The music they are listening to and covering has no dynamics to begin with so the concept is skewed.
'94 Fly Deluxe
Listen first, then play.

Dynamics and playing

Offline Paul Marossy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7330
  • Excuse me while I kiss The Fly
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 11:24:54 AM »
quote:
I think part of this phenom is due to the flatness of most recorded material nowadays. In order to sound as loud as possible everything is just squashed to death.


Another reason why I don't do compressors. Those will kill all of the subtlities in my playing, and in general, they seem to suck the life and crispness out of things. In other words, it kills the dynamics.

This flatness must be another reason why I hate anything new that is on the radio these days - it all just sounds bland to me.

__/\\/\\__PJM__/\\/\\__
www.DIYguitarist.com
www.myspace.com/j201jams
http://improvisingguitarists.ning.com/profile/PaulMarossy
« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 11:27:47 AM by Paul Marossy »

Dynamics and playing

Offline mojotron

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 716
    • http://www.mojotronics.com
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2008, 11:26:41 AM »
Dynamics in playing, as an individual musician, and as a band (the collective art of a 'team' of musicians) are two ways that I look at dynamics.

As a band, the misicians want to develop an understanding of each member's motivations for playing music and why they are part of that band. What falls out of that understanding is the foundation of a band that does not step on eachother's toes. Then, dynamics are as simple as working together to build up to the part of a song where there is some focus on a theme... For instance, I played in several bands (a long time ago) where a few times I could just say to the other guitar player - 'for this one verse, double the bass line while I sing...' or they would have me do something different than what I was doing to allow something else to get heard more. I love working in a 3 person band the most - there is a lot of space there for dynamics without having to focus on it.

As a musician, I think most melodic components of playing would do well to emulate vocal qualities. When I listen to a someone like Van Halen or like Larry Carlton I hear notes being played with a lot of expression - a lot of this expression takes the form of what you would hear in vocals or backing vocals - assuming a pretty good singer sang them.

One of the other things I try to do as a player is to add intervals greater than 5ths or octaves at key points in a solo and then start a new melody line from there.

A lot of times people will say stuff like start slow and low and finish fast and hi (on the fret board) - and that's not a bad place to strart as long as you recognize that you want to ditch that completely once you get the hand of dynamic soloing.
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline Paul Marossy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7330
  • Excuse me while I kiss The Fly
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2008, 11:49:28 AM »
quote:
Dynamics in playing, as an individual musician, and as a band (the collective art of a 'team' of musicians) are two ways that I look at dynamics.


I agree, I also think that way.

 
quote:
As a band, the misicians want to develop an understanding of each member's motivations for playing music and why they are part of that band. What falls out of that understanding is the foundation of a band that does not step on eachother's toes. Then, dynamics are as simple as working together to build up to the part of a song where there is some focus on a theme...


I learned this lesson being on various church music teams. I've seen everything from very loose to the powers that be having a cow if you tried to be an individual with your own personality. I do not do well at all in the second scenario - I feel like I'm put into a strightjacket when that happens.

__/\\/\\__PJM__/\\/\\__
www.DIYguitarist.com
www.myspace.com/j201jams
http://improvisingguitarists.ning.com/profile/PaulMarossy

Dynamics and playing

Offline mojotron

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 716
    • http://www.mojotronics.com
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2008, 01:24:56 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by Paul Marossy
....
I learned this lesson being on various church music teams. I've seen everything from very loose to the powers that be having a cow if you tried to be an individual with your own personality. I do not do well at all in the second scenario - I feel like I'm put into a strightjacket when that happens.
...


Ya, I don't either...  The 'rookie in charge' syndrom has been one of the biggest deterrents for me playing at church. I've played in a lot of situations/bands in the past and the last thing I want is to either be told to turn down my level so low that no sound is coming through my amp - or to be told that I have to play something exactly as it was recorded... But, I've been focused on a career outside of music so I haven't been in a live situation for nearly 15 years - I have to get passed that. I have always been the one 'in charge' in most of the bands I have been in because I wanted to make sure the band was worth being involved with. I do much better in band situations where there is a lot of freedom and space to be creative.

Group dynamics, especially in some church situations, where there might be 3 guitar players, piano and keyboards seem to be sorted out through a very non-musical, draconian, exercise at the mixing console. [:(]
« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 03:47:43 PM by mojotron »
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline Paul Marossy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7330
  • Excuse me while I kiss The Fly
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2008, 01:46:57 PM »
We're on the same page, mojotron. I totally know what you are talking about!

__/\\/\\__PJM__/\\/\\__
www.DIYguitarist.com
www.myspace.com/j201jams
http://improvisingguitarists.ning.com/profile/PaulMarossy

Dynamics and playing

Offline jefsummers

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 373
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2008, 09:24:25 PM »
I think there are two problems here - one is the inappropriate use of compression, the other being a lack of understanding of dynamics. Compression can be a useful tool. There are times when you want that really "squeezed" sound. OTOH, it kills the dynamics that can be such an integral part of the expression of playing. The other problem is a lack of understanding and use of dynamics and feel. I suggest listening to Muriel Anderson interested in dynamics and sound shaping - she works on the dynamics and shaping of every note.  Listening to her is both awesome and very very humbling...

1998 Parker Fly Deluxe
1998 Fender Std Strat
2002 Epiphone Dot
1999 Danelectro Hodad 12 string electric
1963 Gibson Melody Maker
Various acoustics
Marshall AVT150 with 1960A Lead Cab
Vox AD30
Boss GT-8, Roland GR-30
Parker DF 724
Parker Fly Deluxe
Nitefly V2
Italia Mondial
Fender Std Strat w SCN pickups and GK2A
Epiphone Dot w SD Jazz/JB
Danelectro Hodad 12 string electric
Epiphone Gary Clark Casino
Fender Jaguar Players Custom HH
1963 Gibson Melody Maker
Various acoustics
Marshall AVT150, ART T28, Bugera 333

Dynamics and playing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2008, 07:09:26 AM »
Jeff,
Thanks for mentioning Muriel Anderson.  I hadn't heard her before and as you say, she shapes her phrases beautifully.  But I do think that the dynamic challenges of an electric guitarist are very different. Playing a nylon string guitar, you can only play so loud. If you play too hard, you'll lose the ability to execute, certainly execute on the level of Muriel Anderson. With an electric, there's no limit to now loud you can get and that's the problem.
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline simonlock

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4374
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2008, 12:25:17 PM »
Really Paul? I find I can go from incredibly soft to insanely loud on my Nylon Fly. It has probably 10 times the dynamic range of my electrics. I find with distortion it's incredibly hard to hear a change in volume when picking at different levels. It's like the tone changes and the amount of distortion but the volume barely changes at all. Even without the compressor it's already got the qualities of being compressed. I've got this Dyna Drive by Boss that reacts to your playing and you can play quiet and clean and thwack the strings and it'll have overdrive. It's kinda cool.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
A Whole Mess of Flys and I Love Them ALL!!!!!
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2008, 02:27:29 PM »
Simon,
I'm really talking about powerful amps that totally wipe out everything within a 5 mile radius. I just find that vocals are consistently drowned out by guitars and that many musicians are clueless.  Again, this is in the context of talking to my son, but in the most basic sense, if the instruments are louder than the vocals, of if any one instrument is too loud relative to the others, than it's dynamically wrong.
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline uburoibob

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3262
    • Bob Martin 11:11
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2008, 09:42:14 PM »
Distortion IS compression. That's the nature of it. For those who think everything is being squashed to a single volume level (and it is...) there's not a single recorded album in history (at least vinyl history) that didn't have a pretty substantial amount of compression on it. From the bass/drums and vox while tracking to the overall when mastering, they had to compress the bejesus out of it to keep it from sending the needle flying off the records. Today, they compress for apparent loudness. THEN, the radio stations compress if further to make themselves sound louder on the radio.

My point is that from distortion to mastering clean records, compression is pretty omni present. To Paul's original point - it's all in how it's applied. And I view that sort of processing as an integral part of the arrangement these days.

Bob

2001 Parker Fly Single 2 Silver  â€¢ 1997 Parker Fly Concert Burnt Butterscotch  â€¢  1999 Parker Fly Artist Custom Hardtail Butterscotch  â€¢  1998 Fly Classic in Transparent Dark Blue  â€¢  1998 Fly Classic in Cherry Red with DiBurro Roland Mod •  http://bobmartin1111.com
1999 Parker Fly Artist Custom Hardtail Butterscotch -   2000 Fly Standard Classic in Cherry Red - http://bobmartin1111.com

Dynamics and playing

Offline bno

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2008, 09:59:14 PM »
Spot on, Bob.  The net result is that young "rock" musicians are covering popular music that inherently lacks significant dynamics.  They try to sound like the record (or radio) which is all squashed to a very narrow dynamic scale.
'94 Fly Deluxe
Listen first, then play.

Dynamics and playing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2008, 06:40:43 AM »
Bob is right, compression in pretty omnipresent, but it always has been, and to blame bad dynamics on compression is missing the point, in my opinion. Bno, you too make a valid point regarding the flatness of recordings, and I have a feeling that computers and the unlimited number of tracks available, both contribute to that.  We're all used to time correction, pitch correction, machines playing "drums" and cut and pasted parts that have been homogenized for our listening pleasure.  These performances just don't breathe and sound natural, compared to a "live" performance.  But beyond all of the processing, which can sometimes be great and sometimes be horrible, it still comes down to arrangements.  That's where the dynamics lie. In a certain sense, all of this technology is like using a tennis racquet with a big head or a golf club with a head the size of a cantelope.  It's made it easier for more people to make music, which is a good thing, but it's also made it so easy that people can fake it and produce recordings with little or no musical knowledge.  Also the sounds of our world have changed.  There's less empty space around us, (the space between my ears being an obvious exception), and that reflects in our music. The world is a harsher place emotionally and sonically.  Maybe we're all a bit overcompressed....  Okay, okay, I'd better run and put some coffee in me.
 

Dynamics and playing

Offline Lwinn171

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1860
Dynamics and playing
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2008, 08:26:11 AM »
When I think on the subject of dynamics, I think about things like Not playing all the time. Staying out of the way of the vocals. Using the volume knob, and making good use of a multi-channel amp. It's also in the hands, how hard you attack the strings. I make an effort to have some options, volume-wise, but the key is to have an ear for when to make sure you are heard, and when to make sure someone else is.

Playing with others who understand this concept helps a lot too. I'm lucky enough to play with a drummer who gets it, and is capable of playing very dynamically. Makes all the difference.

Lawrence Winn
2001 Classic,1998 Classic
Boogie MK IV, Behringer ACX-1800, Zoom A2, various effects
« Last Edit: June 11, 2008, 08:35:12 AM by Lwinn171 »

Lawrence Winn
2001 Classic, 98 Deluxe
various amps, various toys