Today we have a very special guest blogging at unSeminary! Clint Taylor is one of the worship leaders at Liquid Church. He’s a sharp thinker and a sensitive soul. He’s also a fantastic musician and pastoral leader in our community. I asked him to write about what he’s learning as we’ve been adding loops to all of our music teams over the last few months.
I’m also honored to be on the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast today. In the podcast, I mention how the church needs to add more EDM beats to worship music. The post below will give you a sense of how Clint is leading the charge at our church. Check out his blog and start following him on Twitter!
One of the biggest accomplishments for my worship team in the last few years has been our ability to pull off some of the most challenging songs. My team is 100% volunteer and it has nothing to do with my own musicianship. The reason for our success is that we play to backing tracks, which are also called loops. That may make some people think of an ostentatious pop diva mouthing a song instead of singing with her God-given vocal cords. Yes, that is an example of a backing track, but it’s nothing like how churches are using them today.
Churches all over are turning to loops to add elements otherwise impossible outside of recording studios. Don’t think of it as cheating. It is using available technology to get the most out of your worship team sonically. Backing tracks augment a team’s sound and allow them to achieve a fullness and variety that may not have existed before. Here are five points to consider:
- Instantly add EDM (electronic dance music) elements // Most current, up-tempo worship songs have some sort of electronic element that is difficult to pull off in a church service. It may be a bed of synths or a single electronic sound that is pivotal to the song’s feel. Now your band can play along to the original masters. Websites like multitracks.com offer complete master sessions of thousands of songs. Your team can easily extract any part they want from the song.
- It doesn’t cost much money // Every church is on a budget. The equipment you need to add loops is not expensive, assuming your church already has a computer available. The most common software for adding backing tracks is called Ableton. The entry-level version of this program runs about 99 dollars. You also need two direct boxes and a stereo cable, which you can pick up at a local music store. Add ear monitors to allow your team to play along with a metronome in sync. Now you’re ready to rock and roll!
- Add instruments that may be missing on a Sunday // Is your team sometimes missing a musician, such as a keyboard or guitar player? You can easily add keyboards, synths or any instrument to your loops. Or single out just the electric guitar audio from a master session for your team to play along with. Even if you have a guitarist, you can add another electric guitar with your backing track.
- Ear cues keep your band in check // When your team is playing with loops, they’re all playing to a single metronome fed to their ear monitors. With Ableton, you can include vocal cues for every part of each song. A voice counts the team in to each section. For example, when a tune begins, they will hear “Intro 2 3 4” and begin playing as if the worship leader said it himself. Ever since my worship team started this, we have never been tighter!
- Access to practically every mainstream worship song // With resources such as multitracks.com and loopcommunity.com your worship team can buy—for a very small price—backing tracks to any song. The key is not overdoing it. Use subtle elements in the tracks to ever-so-slightly beef up your team. If it is done well, your congregation will never know what they hear isn’t being achieved with a live instrument.