Wednesday, March 9, 2011
When in doubt, don't.....
In the middle 60s. I got a call from a very well established recording studio to lay down a guitar track for a local artist. As I sat in the booth and listened to the song with the previously recorded tracks, I made a rather startling discovery...
I sincerely felt that the song didn't need a guitar track.
After the first playback had finished, the engineer asked me, "Well?"
(Dilemma? You betcha, as the studio was paying me $80/hr to play which, in the 60s, was SERIOUS money!)
I had always heard from my Great Aunt Mary to tell the truth and never be afraid of the outcome.
"This song needs a guitar like the Mona Lisa needs a mustache" was my first utterance.
The engineer thanked me and sent me home without pay.
The next part really surprised me...
I was the first guitarist called on every studio session!
I can only imagine that the reason is that the engineer knew that I was more concerned with the quality of the finished song than my paycheck.
(I made thousands from our long standing association)
This past Sunday, I had to hire a substitute drummer for our church's praise band. This individual came highly recommended and did a wonderful interpretation on all the fast contemporary Christian numbers. When it came time for the slow worship piece, however, it was a totally different story......
Honestly, the tune didn't need any drums at all, or at most, a few quiet cymbal rolls. What ins-sued was an onslaught of the slowest driving rock pattern I had ever heard!
Not only was this totally inappropriate for worship music, the drummer never looked at me even once to check if I, the musical director approved of his interpretation. Thank heavens that the sound engineer for the service was on top of this and turned the drums almost off in the main speakers.
RULE #1 Never under appreciate your sound engineer!
I didn't want to attract any more attention to the drummer than he was already getting, so I just finished the song as if his playing was exactly what I had asked for.
When in doubt, don't..... is my best advice if you are playing an unfamiliar piece. Your band mates won't let the overall quality of the song suffer. Feel free to jump in when you are confident that your playing will benefit, rather than detract, from the overall musicality of the performance.