Photo by Scott Pickering

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Sound of Sprinkles

One of Percussion For Worship's loyal followers sent me a link to a posting on his blog a while back.
John Homan allowed me to re-post it but you can click the link below and check out more of his writing.  

I am diggin' the sprinkles analogy!

Casa de Juanito-John Homan's Personal Blog: The Sound of Sprinkles:

Sitting in on congas with the jazz group Vibenation at the 2013 Elkhart Jazz Festival

There are things in this life that you keep forgetting easily, important things that you need to keep in mind. Its like how time and time again the Apostle Paul comes back to justification by faith to the church because they forget it so easily and legalism is such an easy trap to fall into.

I have a similar experience regarding being a percussionist. I have to make a real effort to not forget the value of playing sparingly, not always trying to fill the whole musical space available with sound. It's as if I went to some audio garage sale and came back with awesome bargains. There is just not that much room for all I have but I still try to stuff it in all the closets until all the available musical space is bursting with too much sound. This is especially true of playing with a band, but it also happens when I go out and play as part of a duet or trio. I have to remind myself that people like to hear things that don't always overwhelm them. All day long you can listen to music that is the equivalent of a pizza with everything, but then you don't even taste all of the subtle flavors in the cheese or the tomatoes and basil in the sauce.

The same with music, sometimes to hear just an acoustic guitar and conga drums or just a shaker is kind of a rare experience because so much of the music that we listen to is a wall of sound. Think of the difference between Coldplay's "Hurts Like Heaven" and Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and you will get the idea.

Sometimes I have gotten down on myself in the past that I am not able to play more instruments at once, not able to produce the big sound that the kit drummer can, but then I remember that regardless of where I am at as a musician, there is nothing wrong with the addition of simple rhythms, they are accessible to more people, and they don't distract from the other instruments in the band. Even before I started playing myself I always loved those small accents, like triangles, shakers and bongos when I heard them in music around me.

When I first started playing percussion, my music leader told me that I was the sprinkles on the cake. I wasn't the frosting or the cake itself, I was something that added a nice touch to what was already good on it's own. This saying comes back to me over and over. I'm there to support others and not to promote myself. It's a hard lesson, but it's worth learning over and over.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Playing My iPhone In Worship Service

The sample pad would not come to life.  I had been asked to play a "electronic toms/909" part on a song.  Using an old-school sample on the electronic pad was going to be the answer but the machine had a problem.  As the rehearsal moved along, I suddenly thought about an app on my phone that might do the trick.  I plugged my earphones into my iPhone 5C and brought up the iKaossilator app from Korg.   It took several minutes of experimenting before I settled on the SynToms2 patch.  The electric 80's tom sounds really fit the bill for the song and I tapped my way through two services that Saturday using my iPhone.  Back at home later that night, I decided that using my iPad would give me a bigger striking target than the phone so the iPad became a part of my set up on Sunday.

The iKaossilator app has lots of sounds and is relatively inexpensive (compared to the self-contained Kaossilator).   If you use this app on the phone or iPad, make sure to turn on both "Airplane Mode" and the "Do Not Disturb" features so that you will not send any text tones or calendar reminder tones over the P.A. system.