Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!

Playing in an ensemble

Playing in an ensemble

Although nowadays I play solo most of the time, I love to join with other musicians in ensembles when I can, and have a series of different groups planned throughout the rest of this year: church worship team, acoustic duets, trios, quartets, even an Old-Time/Celtic sextet!  If you play with other musicians, you need to make many decisions about how each player’s role fits into the overall picture.

I as an improviser tend to look for ways I can come up with special countermelodies and textural enhancements --- as well as creative, meaningful interpretations of the melody when it’s my turn to play lead, or improvisational breaks when called for.

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Coming up with musical fill-in parts in an arrangement or improv

Coming up with musical fill-in parts in an arrangement or improv

When a musician is putting together a typical arrangement it’s good for him to 1) make sure he has a solid rhythmic pattern going, and he needs 2) a good chord structure moving along within that rhythm, and of course he needs 3) a straightforward melody.  If they’re handled with taste and skill, this group of factors combine for a fine rendition of the piece.

However, there are often long notes at key points in the melody’s progress, and players like me crave an extra voice “singing along” during those long notes (and perhaps elsewhere as well) to add interest and color.  I’ve found that there are a lot of ways to work with that, and I’m always working on these creative “fill parts,” so I thought I’d jot down a collection of ideas to consider if you want to.  Here they are!

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