Balancing the Accompaniment

Have you ever listened to a song and had trouble hearing the vocals because the accompaniment was too loud? A couple weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video where the instruments overpowered the vocals. It was very distracting to say the least. I started thinking about how we as accompanists can balance the accompaniment properly.

Of course, the sound system will play a part in this balancing act.  A good sound man understands that the accompaniment should be softer than the vocals (or other instruments, in case of an instrumental special). If you are accompanying without a sound system, you can properly balance the accompaniment using these following options:

1.       Listen. While this option might seem obvious, make sure you can hear the person whom you are accompanying.

2.       Use the soft pedal. This is a great option especially if no sound system is available.

3.       Play with a lighter touch. Maybe your piano does not have a soft pedal. Using a light touch on the keys will help the accompaniment sound softer.

4.       Play fewer notes. This option would be the last resort, but it works. Playing chords in half notes would produce less noise than rapid broken chords in sixteenth notes.

The word accompaniment carries the idea of supporting or complementing. My goal when I accompany is to support and complement other musicians, not overpower them.

Do you have any thoughts on this subject? I would love to hear from you!


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