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Discussion Starter #1
I have been playing Bari sax at our old Church we attended, and what I played was the bass line of the piano parts by adding 3 sharps and playing as written. It was pretty fun, but flipping page after page, jumping all around with coda's, repeats..etc. made for more page flipping than playing sometimes..

Now however at the new Church we attend, they have a great worship team and I practiced with them last night. However, all they can get me is Lead Piano sheet music (or lead guitar chord music/lead vocal)....not really fun to play melody on a Bari Sax, so I played what I thought was appropriate on the song (pretty much picking & choosing when to play, trying to add something to the songs)....

The site they use for their music is ccli song select, and I also think Praise Charts.

Do any of you have any suggestions of what to do here? Typically from what I have seen, actual Bari Sax Worship music is fairly boring (lots of rests, not much playing). I did use a bass clef trombone part one time at our old Church that was pretty neat to play.

I like complimenting the worship team with my Bari, not playing melody that everyone is singing & strumming on their guitars already.

Thanks!!
 

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I've led church music programs professionally for over a decade, but I've never had a bari sax player in a praise band - way cool! What sort of music (bands) does your new worship team offer?

You're going to have to improvise and come up with your own lines/fills/motifs - CCM writers generally aren't thinking of bari sax players, so get ready to be creative. I also use CCLI/Song Select and can tell you that Song Select makes it easy to transpose key. If not done already, you need chord sheets and/or a vocal lead sheets transposed into Eb from the worship leader/director. That'll save you transposing on the fly.

Next, talk with the worship leader/director to see if s/he has an idea of what you should be doing on bari sax. On slow songs you're likely going to be doing a lot of sustaining low notes. On faster songs you may try to come up with a rhythmic figure/motif that fits nicely in breaks in the verse and transitions from verse => pre-chorus => chorus => etc. Doubling lead lines played by the keyboard or lead guitar could work in limited circumstances, too (some of the lead sheets will have these lines written-out). Listen to modern pop tunes that have bari sax in them to get an idea of what they're doing (Amy Winehouse comes to mind; a few Taylor Swift songs; others, too, I'm sure).

A few other thoughts: (1) avoid playing during the verses and, if you do play, keep it very simple and make sure it doesn't distract from the vocals; (2) make sure you aren't stepping on anyone's toes - specifically the bassist and the keyboard player. The bassist and keyboardist should already be doing a lot of communicating to make sure the keyboardist's left hand doesn't clash with what the bassist is doing - now you're adding another low instrument into the mix and it can get muddy VERY quickly; (3) don't hide - it's immensely frustrating as a worship director to have someone in the group who's excited to play but never plays out or offers creative ideas; (4) respect your new team - figure out where you fit-in before looking to wow the congregation with a Charlie Parker transcription played on bari in the middle of "10,000 Reasons."

If you have any specific questions, I'm happy to answer. Happy playing!
 

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I have led worship for many years. If you are doing modern praise music this stuff is pretty simple. I think what Saxydude said in his last paragraph is pretty important. On those simple praise charts I always find the Piano and bass tend to pound away on the 1 and the V of the chord. Being mostly a guitar player, I drop off the bass notes on a lot of my chords to not muddy things up. I think you need to really study what your players are doing and then you will know where there is room for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Getting a lot of bass line was an issue at our other Church because they had a grand piano, and a keyboard, then me popping off tunes from the bass line also! My wife was on her clarinet playing melody…no drums, no guitars…just us, plus 4 singers.

So now, at the new Church, there is a worship leader on an electric acoustic guitar, then a lead guitar, a bass guitar, drummer, and an intermittent keyboard player (whom was not playing last night, may not play this Sunday), and 2 singers, I also had a mic so when I was not playing I too was singing. The music available is from those web sites, they do contemporary Christian music.

In some of the louder/stronger chorus’s (our songs this week are Jesus, What a Beautiful Name, Resurrecting, Great are you Lord, and another one I forget) what I have done is actually played the notes in octave/mid on those stronger parts to add a little support you could say (no piano/keyboard this week, so I am the ONLY guy reading actual notes, everyone else had chord charts, and vocal). On some parts it sounded really neat for me to hold a long tone at the end of a chorus/verse when the singers had rests and the guitars strummed a few chords until the next chorus/verse. I even tried playing down an octave on a few parts (low C#/B/A) and it did not fit in, so I stuck to mid and octave range and sounded decent.

I kind of figured there was not an easy answer to this, and I also figured out of anyone to talk to right here is the place to go! The worship leader (and team) is MORE than willing to help figure out what makes this Bari sound good on their team. I also agree very much about not wowing the congregation (I will be honest, I am scared out of my mind right now, it’s a big 2 service congregation!!), I am looking to play some nice notes when appropriate and sing when not playing.

As an FYI...I have not done hardly any ear training, and cannot improvise. I am not a pro with music, or sax playing by any means. I just really enjoy playing & have a lot of fun with it. I am also in a Community Band too.

This Sunday may be my first Sunday playing there (if I play, the leader encouraged me to play just to get used to it), hence why being scared (been attending 6 weeks now, attended our other Church 8 years, played at the old Church for about a year), so I am a bit scared not knowing many people, and hope the congregation doesn’t expect to hear a sweet “Parker” style transcription, yet!

As I stated too, the leader is more than willing to help make this horn fit in to help add to what is there, which is what I really want to do. They are a very fun, and open group of people and make it enjoyable and entertaining during practice. I want to do my best, and I don’t want to goof up (which will happen, nobody is perfect) but most of all praise & worship through my Bari, and not for self-gratification either.

Thanks for the advice. If you have any other idea's, please let me know....and keep in mind I love the "Motown" sound of the growling Bari in them oldies, I envision the same at Church for some reason :)
 

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Sounds more like the worship leader doesn't really know how to use you.

You can get Hymn styled charts off song select (they are labeled as "Vocal" and are basically SATB vocal charts) so you could do what you used to at your old church, though the church would have to upgrade their song select subscription to do it.

Also there are some really great arrangements out there for basically Praise Band + Horns. Praise Charts has their Worship Band series, Anderkamp has some stuff in their Horns and Rhythm-Worship series. If you google Praise Band with Horns arragements, you can find a lot. The downside is that it requires a bit of financial investment on the church's parts to buy music... which unfortunately a lot of places just don't want to do.

If the church is unwilling to do any of that, your only other bet would be to take some improv lessons and learn better to play by ear.

Edit: Just remembered, Lillenas and Barncharts also has some stuff, these are really cool as a lot of their stuff is more jazzy.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sounds more like the worship leader doesn't really know how to use you.
I think that goes for both sides (them, and myself), considering as I practiced for the very first time this past Thursday with them, and I will play there for the very first time Sunday. Being as they have never had any kind of sax player on their worship team, and I have never played with them as a group, it will be learning on both sides and will take some getting used to.

Once they learn more about the role of myself & sax, and I learn what they like to do we can probably come up with something good I am sure. They are a very open group for idea's, as I too am an open person for the same, so it really is a good group of people. I have already notated on parts of the songs as Saxydude said about the breaks in the verse and transitions (I penciled in some stuff and will ask them prior to practice & see if they would like me to give it a try).

I will also check out the other one you mentioned in your edit. Thank you also for the input!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So after a couple weeks now of playing, the first week playing piano lead music which was not the funnest to play as I stated in my first post. This past week during Thursday night practice I talked to the lead guitarist, and the bass guitar player and asked if I could transpose their chord sheet on one song and see how it sounds if I were to play along following that and throwing in my own little kick every so often.

They were all for it and said to give it a try. So here again I came in when I thought appropriate to the song, played soft/gentle notes when the song called for it, and a few parts I let the sax sing a bit more when the song allowed, and a couple times I punched it (again, when it was ok to do). I followed the lead of the singers, and drummer on what they were doing, and kept my ear on the bass guitar at the same time as to not be playing the same exact style he was.

Everyone really enjoyed the sound of the Bari during all the songs (contemporary) during that practice. I did the same thing on Sunday during our practice in the morning, and for both services. A few people stopped me afterwards including the Pastor and said they really enjoyed hearing the presence of the Bari in the songs.

For now I think I will continue down this path and see what happens and continue to get used to the worship team and let them get used to me also. Now to come up with some rhythms during breaks, and transitions like Saxydude suggest would be really fun! (Maybe later after I get more used to the group :) )
 

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Music for ALTO Sax might be easier to find for your hymns and choruses (showing chords too)? ie. Same key as Bari. No need to transpose. And as a good disciple, you're already comfortable blowing as inspired, within the framework of the scale/chord structure, right? God bless...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So far the new Church we attend, and the Worship Team has not done any Hymns. They get their music from CCLI.....which is limited on what you can get, so getting Alto specific is a no-go. So being comfortable....getting there. Reading from transposed Chord Charts is interesting to say the least, but for now it sounds nice, I also print off the piano lead music (transpose right online) and get an idea of what I can do to add more, so I will write in notes on the chord chart if I feel necessary in that part of the song.
 

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So far the new Church we attend, and the Worship Team has not done any Hymns. They get their music from CCLI.....which is limited on what you can get, so getting Alto specific is a no-go. So being comfortable....getting there. Reading from transposed Chord Charts is interesting to say the least, but for now it sounds nice, I also print off the piano lead music (transpose right online) and get an idea of what I can do to add more, so I will write in notes on the chord chart if I feel necessary in that part of the song.
How about playing the lowest part of the four part standard vocal harmony (if you have the songs written that way)?

I have no idea about "modern" church music as I am still stuck in the Episcopal Hymnal of 1940 as revised in 1982.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The vocal part (sample below) is the same as lead piano too, and the other thing is they do kind of change it up a bit to fit the service, so the songs may not be word for word as the real song goes, or even as the part is written, so a person has to be able to change pretty quickly when needed, which I don't mind at all, I think its pretty cool how they do their songs. Not to mention we do practice during the week together, plus practice again Sunday morning prior to the two services.....so by then we all have a good feel of how the music should go.

I am trying to do a bit more ear training and paying a lot closer attention to what is going on so I can maybe someday just go with the flow and do what Saxydude suggests and play during breaks and come up with a rhythmic figure/motif of sorts.

This worship group is awesome to work with, and play along with too. They are very open to "whatever" the heart desires (well, within reason!) for playing this music. They have said to all of us "if you have an idea during practice, just do it and play your heart out, if there is something we want you to change we will tell you, otherwise if we say nothing we are fine with it"...

Here is an example of a song we did this past weekend, My Lighthouse by Rend Collective. Awesome song, tons of fun to play....and I mean that, not just saying it. Even though I read Chord charts I had a blast, most parts were pretty mellow for me, but on some I had the Bari screaming....and got to honk the low A throughout the song too which I don't usually get to do...sorry to ramble..again..

Anyhow, here is the song, a sample of Lead Vocal, sample of Lead Piano, and Chord Chart sample (which I use and also write in some piano notes too). (I think samples like this are ok to post? If not please let me know!).


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I wish I had a good answer to the OP! I've played at one church which had a lot of winds onstage (plus bass and keys), and even in that loose environment the bari was just mud. However, at the end I did a solo instrumental version of "How Great Thou Art," and that worked like a champ.

I tried using bari for instrumental breaks in another band (where I was playing bass), and that might have worked - but I had a hard time changing instruments fast enough.

In theory - since we're a baritone voice, not a bass voice - we should be able to play a harmony line above the bass player. However, I can't quite imagine that sound working in a small group.
 

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I would love a Baritone in my worship teams horn section. I'd highly suggest you turn on the radio and play along; it will help you a lot with playing by ear and even allow you to figure out improvising. Feel it by Toby Mac is a really fun funky song and I can already here your owning the intro and breaks in the song. The creativity is flowing right now!!!
 
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