Loops For Worship: A Resource Guide

I posted a while back about the benefits of playing with a click track in worship. One of the benefits what once your band can stick with a click track you can then open up the ability to use drum loops, sequences, and more. There are many benefits to using loops even beyond having those cool lo-fi drum loops and etherial sounds. In a worst case scenario you can fill in a missing instrument (smaller ministries can utilize this to create a “bigger than appears sound” from stage). Sound samples have come so far in the past 10 years that you can literally have the London Symphony Orchestra at your fingertips or backing your worship set. The sonic possibilities are endless.

“How do I do that you ask?”
“Great question” I respond.

There are a variety of tools you can utilize from GarageBand, Ableton Live, Main Stage, Pro Tools, Reason and many many more. There are also a variety of pre-made loops created by other for sale or free. Some sites will sell the multi-track file so you can edit rather than start from scratch.

While this is not an extensive list of all the resources available here is a great list to start you on your way. (special thanks to Brannon Hancock who compiled a part of this list to help get me going).

*NEW* DB Worship – Free reason files, loops, training, gear talk and much much more.  Great resource!!! *NEW*

Loops in Worship YouTube Site – Training
Loops in Worship Site – Loop Elements and Training
Our Rising Sound – Blog and Loops for Sale
Loop Community.com – Free Loops, Loops for Sale and Training
My Music Writer.com – Loops for Sale and Custom Loops
Bwack’s Forum – The David Crowder Band Drummer BLog, Forum, and Musings
Interactive Worship Live.com – Multi Track Loops, Lite Loops, Loops with video
Sacred Loops.org – Loops and Training
Drum Loops for Worship – Free Loops and Training
Modern Worship Loops.com – Loops for sale
Praise Charts.com – Sheet Music, Multi-Track Files, Click Tracks, Rhythm Tracks
Looping Worship.com – loops, training and more
Create Digital Music.com – Great training resource

What other resources have you found to be beneficial for Worship loops?

Putting it Out There: Beginnings of a (worship) Song…

I’ve never finished a worship song before.  In fact it has been a long long time since I have finished any song period.  I have a fear of writing a crappy song.  And you know what.  If I want to write songs I need to get over that and realize that I just need to write and let come what comes.  Some will be better than others and yes some will not be so good but at least I am finishing them.  So here is one that I have for the most part finished and have decided to start sharing it all (good and bad) with you.  Hope you enjoy. Oh and it was recorded in one take from the internal mic and camera from my mac (that should explain some of the quality issues). Share if you would like – comment below as well.

Key of A
Chorus is I V IV
Verses are I V/vii vi IV
Channel is V IV V iv

Lyrics (in case you couldn’t understand them):

(verse)
You are the one who saves us
You gave your life to make us new
You make us new
You’ve brought us through the darkness
Into your Holy presence
We worship you

(channel)
For all You’ve done
We thank You God
We’ll tell the world
of Your great Love

(chorus)
We will sing
Our praises loud
We will join the mighty chorus
As our voices shake the ground
We will sing
And shout it out
[We will join the mighty chorus
As our voices shake the ground] – still want to change these
We will sing
We will sing

I Was Saved at a Puppet Show

No, really! You didn’t misread that, it is 100% true. I know, I know it can’t be, say it ain’t so, please tell me you are joking. Nope, sorry it’s true. I was 7 years old and with my family at Creation, a huge Christian music festival in Pennsylvania, and spending the afternoon in the children’s tent. Now also remember this was some time ago so even though they weren’t any cooler then puppet ministries were much more prevalent than what I hope is true today. But nonetheless something moved me and here I stand today.

I tell you that as a reminder that the church can try as hard as possible to be as cool and relevant and as much like MTV or whatever the kids watch these days, and it is completely and utterly powerless to truly impact and change lives. We are powerless to change hearts without the Spirit. That is why cheesy, hokey, out-dated, [place your adjective here] programs, churches, and events are still effective.

Grant-it I do believe we need to do our best to ministry to those around us (which also means this trend of just copying what other churches have found successful is not a good model for churches use – what worked for them may not be the best way for your ministry to function). I believe in ministry that speaks appropriately to the culture it is trying to reach. But I think it important that we be sympathetic to others who are striving to reach others even though we may not agree with the way in which they are going about it.

So the next time you find yourself at a church where a little old lady is playing hymns on an out of tune piano or a youth ministry playing the worlds cheesiest ice breaker games or anything you would cringe at if ever it were suggested you incorporate into your ministry remember, we are powerless to change peoples lives through our own power and actions.

The Most Important Part of Worship Band Rehearsal

Obviously the most important things during any worship band rehearsal are prayer and worship.  That should be at the top of any worship band’s list.  That aside, what would you say the most important part of the rehearsal?  For me there is nothing more important for our worship band rehearsals than some jam time.  Plain and simple, unscripted time to just be musicians.  I know, your rehearsal time is tightly scheduled and allowing 10 minutes of seemingly unproductive time is hard to imagine.  But let me give you a few good reasons to allow your band to just jam for a bit next time they get together.

1. The more you play together as a band the more you know each other and how you play, where your going musically, and generally just a better feel for how each other plays and hears the music.  Yes this can be done during regular rehearsals.  But regular rehearsals tend to be too structured to really get a feel for how each musicians plays.  It builds confidence in each other and can lead to better spontaneity in your worship.  The more you play together the more you know where each person is going.

2. It’s fun.  I don’t know if every worship rehearsal runs like ours but at times it can tend to get tedious, repetitious, and just promote a lackluster attitude through the team.  It happens, not often, but it happens.  Taking a few minutes to just play without regard to perfect notes, parts, or timing, can lead to an endorphin charged rehearsal.  It always goes better when people are relaxed and happy.  (if that doesn’t work just give them coffee – that always works for musicians)

3. Jam sessions can lead to new music.  I don’t know if you are a team or worship leader that writes music but if so, this is a great tool to do so.  When I have written in the past, (i am suffering from major writer’s block – need to get over my fear of crappy music) writing during and through jam sessions was my absolute favorite way to write.  You get a great feel for how a song wants to develop when instruments are in.  You hear different harmonics than you would with just a piano or just a guitar.

4. It encourages creativity.  Let’s face it, many worship songs you probably play have very similar chord progressions.  Chances are you will end up jamming on one that is similar to a song you will play during service.  This can lead you to find new ways to treat the chords, arrangements, instrumentation, and so much more.  Let these jam sessions encourage and lead you to find new ways to use your gifts, instruments, and talents (unless this leads you to trying to create a cooler newer arrangement of Lord I Lift Your Name on High – that song did it’s job, had it’s day – now it needs to go away, far, far away).

5. It allows instrumentalists opportunity to flex their skills when they might not normally get a chance too do so.  Nobody needs a guitar player soloing over ever inch of a worship song.  But at the same time it is hard to ask many talented musicians to come in week after week to play power chords and cross pick 4 chords.  Giving them time to show off their chops, get their guitar solo face on, and just let loose is a good thing (be warned that if not contained to a jam session that guitar solo face may rear its head in the middle of a slow worshipful moment).  And you may just find out more about your instrumentalists ability, restraint, and musicality than you knew before.

6. You can worship with no lyrics.  There I said it.  Yep you don’t have to speak or sing to actually worship.  I know crazy eh?  The simplest jam session can turn into a full fledged time of worship before you know it.  To me these are some of the most powerful moments in worship.  Take a moment to read this quote found written on a German Opera House.

“Bach gave us God’s word,
Beethoven gave us God’s fire,
Mozart gave us God’s laughter,
God gave us music so that we may pray without words.”

So don’t be afraid to pencil in some time to just let someone pick a chord progression and go to town as a worship band.  You may be surprised to find out how much it can benefit your worship service.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with this idea.  Do you have time allowed to just jam as a band?  Has it been beneficial?  Has it been not so great?

Christian Music or Christians Making Music: Into the Fray

Ok Ok I admit it, I watched the red carpet coverage of the 52nd Grammy Awards yesterday.  Make all the comments you want, I know, I regret the decision now but on the bright side I have a good jump on best and worst dressed – what?  Anyway now that it’s out we can move on.

While watching the red carpet coverage I was excited to see The Fray do a quick interview.  I wasn’t as excited to see it with Ryan Seacrest but hey what do I have to argue I was watching the red carpet pre-show on E!  Here is what struck me to start a debate in my own head (those happen quite often).  Surprising to me, Seacrest asked about the bands Christian (faith based) background.  He asked if that type of lifestyle made it hard to to exist in a Rock-n-Roll world with a different moral center.   I was actually taken back a bit when the question was asked.  I didn’t expect faith to make it into the discussion at all.

I wasn’t surprised by the response from The Fray but at the same time I was.  Their response was simply: “when we set out we had no specific message, it was all about the music.”  It’s the same thing you have heard from many artists of faith – We are not a “Christian” band we are just Christians in a band.  I get it.  Heck I’ve used that to describe myself and my band in the past.  It was really coined to distance a band from the CCM world.  Than in itself is not a bad thing.  Let’s face it CCM music has a history of being poorly written, poorly produced music that lacks soul (my personal opinion views todays popular music in the same way).  When you heard the term “Christian Band” you automatically associated it with less than professional music.  So I get it, I really do – most CCM today is worship music anyway, which is it’s own sub-genre of a beast.  I also get the whole “known by our actions and not just by our words” thing too.  Positive lyrics, and being different than the industry around you is a good thing – good role models are much needed.

But on the other hand what is wrong with saying “Yes, I am a Christian and I write music from my life experience of being a Christian.”  Or saying that “My faith has made me live a life different from the world and I hope that comes through in my music.”  What if “Christian’s who make music” wanted to actually change the perception of Christian music rather than remove themselves from it.  Just thinking out loud here and trust me I totally get the argument for making music and letting people interpret it themselves.  Sometimes I just feel as if it is a copout.  It’s an easy way to keep a target off your back.  It’s a way to keep the mainstream audience interested.

If all the world knows of you is your music, lyrics, and what you say in interviews or in concert and all you do is shirk the title of Christian because of a bad association then what are you really saying?  Again don’t get me wrong I am torn on which side to fall.  I think that the Christian hipster quiet witness is cool but at times I also feel there are times to stand up and say “Yes I am a Christian and it effects every aspect of my life.”  To just say that it’s all about they music seems wrong to me.  It’s all about Christ, the sacrifice and the grace.  If that doesn’t make you want to let the world know in direct terms then I don’t know what would.

What do you think?  Which side do you fall on?  Is there a right side?

Just thinking out loud.

2 & 4

“Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! (Ps. 47:1 NLT)”

My Grandfather loved praise and worship music. At the age of 81 he stood in the back of our little church and would clap his hands to every song that was played. Of course my grandfather had no rhythm and managed to clap completely off beat at all times. As hard as it may have been to be standing next to him, his intention was understood. In the Bible we find clapping mentioned 9 times (all old-testament). all of these occurrences are are some combination of the four hebrew verbs used to express the “striking” of something (macha, naka, saphak, taqa) and the Hebrew word for “hand” (kaf). Essesntially it means the striking of hands, or clapping. 5 of the 9 times we see these combinations, clapping has a negative connotation. These five places use the clapping of hands to show anger, scorn, and disgust (Job 27:23; 34:37, Lam. 2:15; Ezek. 25:6; Nahum 3:19). We still see this today when we make a bad choice or do something we might consider stupid, we clap our hands in disgust. The other four uses however, are meant to show joy, celebration, and praise (2 Kings 11:12; Ps. 47:1; 98:8; Isaiah 55:12). Two of these passages speak of nature giving praise by clapping it’s hands through rivers and trees. How majestic is our God that “all the trees of the field will clap their hands” along with the rivers? If we remember in Luke, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees complaining about the disciples displaying joyful and loud behavior as Jesus cam into town. He said that if these people become silent then surely the stones will cry out in praise. The simple act of placing two hands together repeatedly has such a wide range of meaning. It is one of the first things we learn to do as babies and symbolically is the last moment before life’s curtain call. Let our challenge this month be to realize that if we don’t praise our Creator and Savior that the trees, rivers, mountains, and rocks will. So clap your hands; applaud God’s majesty and greatness, even if it is out of rhythm like my grandfather, as long as it is from your heart.