Worship Musician Magazine August 2022 | Page 41

intentional choices as a result - is an important one for any of us who are involved in leading a church congregation to sing together as an expression of worship .
You can catch up with the “ Concert or Campfire ?” concept in more details here but , to summarize : I believe we need to realize that the vocal , instrumental and technical choices we make what we ’ re doing from the platform too concert-like for our congregation . What works for Hillsong , Phil Wickham and Bethel may not work for us in our context - in our room , with our team , with our congregation .
Instead of creating a concert-like vibe in your presentation of music , going for a campfire singalong atmosphere may be more successful at drawing people to worship God through songs .
Choosing a song key so that the lead singer feels the best they possibly can about their personal , vocal performance is a concert-like choice . If we are performing songs with the objective of enthralling an audience , that ’ s exactly what we should do . But , in contrast , if we are more focused on having every member of our congregation - composed of male , female , younger , older people with varying vocal ranges and abilities - actually participating ( rather than observing ) we will choose the best key for them !
Our leading vocalists may need to sing in a slightly different key to the one they might otherwise choose . This is what I call a more “ campfire ” approach to key choice . My goal is to find a key where all the men in the room can sing the melody and all the women and children in the room can also sing the melody one octave higher . If I choose a key for the performer ’ s sweet spot in my range , I will probably leave half the congregation out in the cold , unable to reach many of the notes I want them to sing .
Consider Phil Wickham ’ s song “ House Of The Lord ”. A very popular song . A lot of churches have added it to their repertoires . But in which
key ? Here ’ s a reminder of the hit single version of the song with its official music video .
That ’ s “ House Of the Lord ” ( sounding and looking like a hit single - arena pop gold ) in the key of B ♭ . Slammin ’! B ♭ is the right key for that song in this context . No argument .
I am quite a BIG fan of Phil Wickham , actually . Outstanding song writer . Great voice . Seems to me to be a genuine , wonderful guy who passionately follows Jesus and seeks to lead others to worship Him . It is a shame he ’ s so ugly though , right ?
( That ’ s a joke BTW . I have noticed that he ’ s good looking too ).
Now consider this “ Song Session ” version of “ House Of The Lord ”. Still in B ♭ , but with only acoustic guitar and keyboard accompanying Phil with a choir of young , vibrant , accomplished singers . This lower production rendition of the song leans a little more towards the campfire singalong vibe than the previous video . I hope you can hear what I mean .
Sounds amazing ! B ♭ totally works in this choir context too . But can you hear that , when the whole choir is singing the melody , all of them - male and female - are singing in the same
register - using the same octave . And they all know when and how to split off into those
wonderful harmonies .
This choir is made up of passionate , energetic , kicking singers . They are not a good representation of the typical , Sunday morning church congregation . I ’ m guessing they ’ re not much like the crowd that you lead . Am I right ? We probably can ’ t expect the same level of vocal participation from a typical Sunday morning congregation . We ’ re gonna need to lean even further towards campfire .
To warmly invite every member of the more typical church congregation to sing “ House Of The Lord ”, we ’ ll need a different key . A radically different key . And we will expect to have the men singing one octave lower than the women and the children . It won ’ t be anywhere near the incredible listening experience that Phil Wickham ( with or without his choir ) can deliver in B ♭ . It might sound more like a campfire singalong than a concert . But we will have more of our congregation ( maybe even all of them ) lifting their voices as an expression of worship to Almighty God . And for me , that ’ s the musical goal we ought to be shooting for .
Watch this video to see me demonstrate how I choose what I consider to be the most congregation-friendly key for “ House Of The Lord ”. Can you guess what it might be ?
Grant Norsworthy founder of MoreThanMusicMentor . com
MoreThanMusicMentor . com
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