About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Philosophy Of Sound


Along with playing musical instruments, I have operated the sound board at church for a few years, so I do have some experience with a sound system.  Sound to a musician or singer is like oxygen to life.   When playing your instrument with others, it is imperative that you can hear your own instrument as well as the other instruments. If you cannot hear yourself, then you will not be able to keep in step with the rest.

By the same token, the people in the congregation should hear you as well.  You may be a humble person, and you may feel that you are playing to the Lord, but if people cannot hear you, why play?  I know some are up front playing their instrument just for show, just so people can see and hear them,  but for the rest of us who are attempting to play and sing for the right reasons, it is important for those in the congregation to hear us.  They are following our lead in worship.  The Lord can also use our voices and instruments as a means of inspiration to them.  

There are certain common phrases you hear no matter what church you are a part of.  You hear musicians say, "turn me up", or "I can't hear myself".   Sometimes you hear, "can you turn him down".   Another common phrase is "you're not going to turn me down when the meeting starts, are you"?  It doesn't matter what church you are a part of, all these phrases and more will be heard during a music practice. 

I was recently at a B. J. Thomas concert.  He has been singing for decades and is used to sound systems and sound people.  Right in the middle of his concert he asked the sound man to turn him up.  He was even as bold to say, "do you remember what I told you before the concert,  that I need to be loud".  Then a few minutes later he said, "you're not going to turn me down now, are you"?  So there you go.  Whether you are an armature or a professional, we all are interested in the way we sound, and for good reason.   

Being both a musician and a sound person, I know the difficulties of playing and trying to balance sound.  There are so many variables to consider in the balancing of sound.  After speaking with a professional sound man lately I realize that it doesn't matter how good of a sound person you are, or how good of a musician you are, sound will always be a challenge. 

For this reason I think that it is good for a worship team to have s "sound philosophy".  By this I mean, it is good to have an idea of what kind of sound you want to project towards the congregation.  We all have different likes and dislikes in this area.  Some like the booming bass, while some are irritated by rattling of windows caused by those low notes. Some like the drums right up front, while others like them in the background, or covered in a glass bubble.  Some like the music to be as loud as the vocals and others like the music to be two thirds as loud as the vocals.  You won't please everyone, but at least when there is a stated "sound philosophy" everyone knows what the objectives are.

There is a scripture that goes along with this quite well.  It is found in, where else but 1 Cor. 14:7.  Paul says, "even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in notes".   Paul is saying, if the sound is muddled, or blends together as noise, how can the people listening distinguish between the various notes the instruments and voices make?  How can the congregation appreciate what they hear?  How can they benefit from the music?  How can they properly follow?

Music in itself can be prophetic.  By this I mean, just the playing of musical instruments can be used by the Lord to carry inspiration and even a word of encouragement to the spirit's of the worshippers.   

So there you go.  Sound is important.  Once the sound is as it should be then the musicians and singers can learn how to play and sing in divine worship.  This doesn't happen over night.  We often are concerned about our playing instead of worshipping, and that is to be expected.  Yet there is a threshold that we can cross when we get good enough playing our instrument and singing our songs.  When we cross that threshold, we can truly worship without concern, and without being tentative.  Our goal should be to find ourselves  lost in Heavenly worship while playing and singing.  Our guitars, keyboards, drums and all of the rest can then be used in pure worship to our King.  

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