Playing In A Band & The Shadow Player

Those who leave their guitars leaning up against the wall near their easy chairs may never experience what I am about to tell you. Those of us who join other musicians and contribute our individual sounds to the collective should readily understand. When an individual player strums out a tune around the campfire and makes a mistake, there’s a good chance that nobody will notice but when playing in a band, that is not allowed. Bands practice their songs until they get them right and then they practice some more. They search for perfection and will often get very close to it. When this happens, something else also occurs. Back in the 90s, I played bass in a three-piece blues-metal band and we recorded every rehearsal. We were all veteran and driven players and we got very tight. One evening, while listening to our tracks, I heard something odd and discussed it with the drummer who was my best friend.

The 4th. Entity

I called this the “4th entity,” and he had heard it too! The collective sound of the three of us became bundled into one. That unified sound was as though there was another member, a fourth player in the band but there was no fourth player. It was the “shadow” sound of we three that was created and then returned in the playback to join us. The fourth entity, or the fifth or sixth, depending on how many are in your band. This can be a common occurrence when the band gets super tight. Sound engineers like me know this and hear it all the time. They are dealing with many sounds and many types of sounds so are always looking and listening for something unusual, something great.

What to take from this? Well, if you are a sound engineer, a lot; but if you are a player, you may have more important things to think about. To me, it is simply a curiosity. A curiosity that might be discussed by band members after a great practice. I have found that most band members like to discuss the overall sound of the rehearsals after the fact and in some way, may be searching for that hidden equation. That little something more. What the band is pumping out into the universe and how the universe receives it.

When Music Stops Playing, What Do You Hear?

After all, what is music? You can’t hold it in your hands. You can’t hand it to another person. Music is in the air and is there for a reason. So practice your guitar every day and never be satisfied with how you sound. You can always play better!

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