Dissecting A Frog

Featuring Tony Marvelli Posted on May 14, 2011

I know the title made you look!  Sorry, we’re not going to relive our high school biology class.  But, we can think about the music we perform on Sunday morning in a similar manner. Allow me to give you an example.

 On a recent road trip to a gig, I was riding with the drummer.  We both brought music to listen to on the four hour drive.  While one of my favorite tracks was playing, I commented, “Check out how the percussionist got his triangle part to fit in the groove!”  Yes, you read it correctly – triangle.  “And listen to how the guitarist and the bassist played with enough space for the triangle to ‘sit in the pocket’ of the chorus.”

I thought it would be obvious to my travel mate since he’s a drummer.  It took a couple of passes of the song for him to dissect all of the elements of the music and hear the triangle part I was raving about.  He had a new appreciation for the song because he heard the interaction of this triangle part and its importance to the groove.


    On the Sunday morning platform, we honor God with our musical gifts.  Yet, are we listening and dissecting the music we’re performing?  Is the rhythm section providing the right amount of support—or space—to let the subtleties shine?  Are we getting in the way of the part played by the second keyboardist?  Are we overplaying under the sub-hook sung by the sopranos in the chorus?  Granted, we have to focus on what we are playing or the notes on the page.  But we also have to consider and adapt to the other music generated from the platform.

It all boils down to listening to the entire band and vocalists and playing a part that fits within the context of the song, without interfering with other instruments or vocals; even if it strays slightly from the written part.

The rhythm section has the most important and most difficult job on the platform, aside from the worship leader.  The key to a great rhythm section player is to perform a great, solid, and inspiring part— one that is both transparent and discernable to the congregant—just like a certain triangle part I know of.

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