November 17, 2008
Wow - this is a tricky one. A few bumbling thoughts from my head:<br><br>1. It's amazing how some songs aren't sung as written because they've been learned from a particular CD, or at a particular conference. Our congregation had problems with the 2nd verse of "Over all the earth" because of a CD where it's actually been sung incorrectly (ie actually discordant with the music). <br><br>2. Hillsongs is a good source for melodically interesting music. Most of it is learnable, although some bits are not immediately obvious.<br><br>3. For the most part, people tend to cope with most melodies, but struggle with awkward rhythm. The exception to this is melodies with wide ranges, for instance "Majesty" by Delirious? which has a low verse and high chorus. Making the jump between the 2 is tricky, and changing the key tends to result in at least one half of the congregation struggle to sing some bits altogether. <br><br>4. If there are "weird" melodic sections, these tend to evolve into more normal patterns if you don't have a strong melody section in your band. <br><br>That's all for now ;)
Thanks for linking to this Chris. It is a balance. A gifted songwriter can match a catchy tune to clever lyrics. Let me tell you, it ain't easy. I've written a lot of songs on both ends of the spectrum: impossible to sing and boringly predictable but hitting the sweet spot in the middle is rare.
The Bible mentions skilled laborers and builders of the temple in the Old Testament as well as the fact that David was a skilled musician. Being a Christian does not automatically qualify a person for any job in the church. God calls people with specific skills to use them for specific tasks in order to build up the church, etc.<br><br>I think that a skilled worship leader will be able to continually grow in writing songs that are both qualitatively creative and that naturally engage the congregation at the same time. <br><br>But, there is a wide range of subjectivity in music which adds to its beauty but also includes a difficulty in judging worship music. Some people prefer Christian pop and others can better enjoy the more complex indie sound and still others that prefer classical music; there seems to be respective churches that implement them all. Yesterday I visited a church that sang a one line chorus of, "No one should be left out". People had their eyes closed and hands raised to God as they repeatedly sang this phrase over and over again. I wasn't sure if I should have called that unskilled, or not my thing, or both.
A service could use a blend of musical styles. <br>It should devote the majority of its repertoire to well-know music, typically hymns, so that congregants can sing along. <br>If the congregation can't sing most of the time...is it really worship? <br>Music that doesn't lend itself to congregational singing is better suited to accompanying the offering or some other ministerial function.<br><br>It is also false to assume that complexity is either a by-product or indicator of musical skill.<br>Simplicity of style and melodic singability are the true hallmarks of musicality.<br>However let's not confuse this with simplistic or repetitive tunes.<br>In the words of the TV cartoon "King of the Hill"...<br>"You're not making rock music better...you're making Christianity worse!"<br><br>Amen.<br><br>
I don't think key has anything to do with 1. The congregation's ability to sing a song (unless it's a range issue) or 2. The complexity, or quality, of a song. People can sing in Gb just as easily as G. But playing a Gb major chord on guitar is a lot more challenging. THAT'S why most songs are in G, C, and D. <br><br>People can handle more than you think. I would rather people write challenging songs and give the congregation a couple of weeks to learn the tune, then write cheese so they can sing it perfectly the first time.<br><br>I also think that there's other ways you can make a song interesting: instrumentation, the drummer, arrangement, etc.<br><br>I can play "How Great is Our God" and bore people to tears, but I could also figure out a way to play it 50 times and keep people's interest.<br><br>The best example I heard is the worship band for 722, after they played Louie Giglio got on stage and said, "Wow, that was like Rage Against the Machine meets Worship music...cool!"<br><br>Most worship leaders are too busy or unmotivated to think of creative arrangements.
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