We hear songs with full bands and amazing teams. But do you have a smaller band and have trouble making variations between verses and choruses because you lack instruments? Here’s a few simple ways to create variations in dynamics without adding additional instruments. Remember vocals are instruments too and can be varied to be more musical. We thing of intensity as adding more, but intensity can also be taking away some voices or instruments too. Intensity is about variation not merely more noise. If you start a song more simply, then when you add layers of voices or instruments it can build intensity.
Use vocal parts to increase intensity on choruses & bridges
It’s easy for vocalists to harmonize everything, but better to do so sparingly on choruses and verses for intensity with a small band. Having a soloist sing a verse and the entire team sing on choruses also creates variation.
Add drum intensity to choruses and bridges
This is pretty obvious, but again sometimes less is more. Less fill in some places creates the feeling of more when you need it.
Use vocals alone without instruments
This is also called acapella singing or singing without instruments. This is especially powerful when you have good vocal harmony. Sometimes just men or just women also can create a special effect. I love hearing “A Mighty Fortress” with male voices.
Use guitar alone without piano for songs beginning with verses
Some songs can begin a verse with a soloist and guitar and create a personal touch. Plan these songs without using other instruments and notate music to remind players not to play in certain places. Then when you add the piano or bass it really creates an intensity where you want it.
Change piano setting to add more string or pad
Depending on the settings on your piano or synth, simply layering a string in certain places can add a lot. If you have several piano players, you can add a synth in places.
Change each verse in some way
Songs with many verses (In Christ Alone) may be more meaningful done with a variety such as verse 1 sung as a solo, verse 2 sung as a duet, verse 3 sung with all harmony. Or multiple verses can be varied instrumentally in the same way. Sometimes a last verse after a bridge can be sung acapella too.
If you’re starting another service and don’t have adequate musicians yet, you can use backtracks with some live instruments or totally alone with vocalists.
Since many churches are under 100 in rural areas, sometimes we must be creative! The most important thing is to sing from the heart and realize simple can still be meaningful worship.