How to write a worship song.

Ok, you guys know my education is in music and that I consider myself somewhat of a theory junkie.  That’s why, every time I’m in a worship service, it’s like they’re assaulting my brain as well as my ears.  This video says exactly what I’m thinking.

Ironically, this also applies if your band’s name is Green Day.

This is why I’ve often thought that if I had fewer morals I could just fake a conversion, set up my own church telling my story, release a couple worship CDs, and retire in a couple years lolling the entire way.

Stupid morals.

(Thanks to Peter for sending this to me)

  • Glodson

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPC-_5hjhPI"Grab the lower horn and let's get out of here!" said me at every Sunday service.

    I was a terrible christian. I make up for it by being a terrible atheist.

    I think I’ll try to write my own hymn, as tone deaf as I am. Stuff about god, gussy it up with some nice words here and there, use the uplifting chord progression, and make sure the song is really just horrible in its message when you break it down. Being me, I will also try to include jackass sexual references as well. When you hear “The Rapture is When Jesus Will Come,” you’ll know I’ve written it.

  • Nicole Introvert

    Wow. What a shitty thing to say about Green Day. I sincerely hope that was a horrible joke and you aren’t familiar with their entire 20+ year catalog. Those words are why I survived the 90s. Maybe it’s not your thing.. but to incenuate that there isnt extreme passion and hard work from that band (or any other bandBillie Joe Armstrong has been involved with) is disappointing to hear from you.

    • Art Vandelay

      I think it only insinuates that all of their songs are 4 chords or less which actually might be generous.

      • eric

        That’s probably 2 more than AC/DC uses, but hey, their music can be fun too.
        Simple =/= bad, though I can see how for a musician, hearing the same few chords or same song structure over and over again could get boring after a while.

        • Andrew Kohler

          I’m writing a dissertation on Carl Orff, who got more out of ostinatos and repeated notes than anyone I can think of. Not only does simple =/= bad, but things that seem simple aren’t always so simple as one might think. Worship songs, on the other hand….

          P.S. Orff also gets credit for having Lucifer arguably take the place of Jesus as savior in De Temporum Fine Comoedia. (Jesus is never mentioned at all; Lucifer saves the world by saying “Pater peccavi” three times and becoming the Angel of Light again, which is a bummer for those of us who appreciate his rebellion ;-) )

    • Rain

      “Wow. What a shitty thing to say about Green Day.”

      When I see things like that I attribute it to envy. Also, hows come if it’s a pop song and a chord is (for example) suspended, it still gets counted as the same chord, but if it was classical song then it would get counted as another chord on the big “chord count” score board, which apparently is a big freakin deal for some reason. Green day has way more than four chords if we apply the same not-snobby standards to them that we apply to classical music.

      • Rain

        P.S. I’m surprised there isn’t any Katy Perry bashing going on here as well, you snobby-ass envious frustrated musicians, you.

        • IceStorm

          I must have jumped the shark. I can’t tell whether you’re being sarcastic or not.

          • Rain

            @IceStorm, Nope not sarcastic. People are snobs. If you reduce “Air On A G-String” down to Green Day terms, then it has maybe six chords. And they are mushy pop chords at that. Big whoopy-do. So how come nobody complains about Bach then. Gimme a break.

          • Rain

            It doesn’t matter what you do
            It doesn’t matter what you say
            There will always be one who wants things the opposite way
            We do our best, we try to please
            But we’re like the rest we’re never at ease
            You can never please
            Anybody
            In this world

            –The Shaggs

        • Andrew Kohler

          Re: Katy Perry–perhaps we should analyze some of the Christian music she sang back as Katy Hudson! (I’ve heard one or two songs and they don’t exactly fit the mold….)

      • Andrew Kohler

        “Also, hows come if it’s a pop song and a chord is (for example) suspended, it still gets counted as the same chord, but if it was classical song then it would get counted as another chord on the big “chord count” score board…”

        Not if it’s being analyzed by Heinrich “Tonic Prolongation” Schenker ;-)

        It should be noted that the last movement of Beethoven’s Opus 57 piano sonata (“Appassionata,” so called) is essentially i – Neapolitan 6 – V(7) – i (in various keys, primarily F minor, C minor, and B-flat minor), with diminished seventh chords in bridging the sections of the sonata form. So, it would seem you just need three chords!

        • Andrew Kohler

          Oh, but the diminished seventh makes four…never mind.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    This is why I’ve often thought that if I had fewer morals I could just fake a conversion, set up my own church telling my story, release a couple worship CDs, and retire in a couple years lolling the entire way.

    Matt Dillahunty says something similar — if atheists really had no moral compass, he would just pretend to embrace Jesus once again, then go on the guest-preaching, lecture, and debate circuit. He’s be on the gravy train for life!

    • Glodson

      I was thinking about this last night. I think that there’s a certain “athiest” that I full expect to “convert” to Christianity and go on a whirlwind tour here in a few years.

      But I guess that doesn’t fit the model that Dillahunty was speaking of as I doubt this example is really an atheist to begin with.

  • Andrew Kohler

    WARNING: explosion of nerd imminent, because there’s a musicologist in the house.

    I would suggest the following for worship songs:

    Two singers in parallel tritones the entire time; polytonality; use of twelve-tone rows; modulation through French augmented sixth chords; deceptive/evaded cadences (especially to bVI in the major mode!); lots of Neapolitan (bII); modulation dividing the octave into major thirds or minor thirds (very 19th century); lots of suspensions (4-3 goes a long way, as does 6-5 above the chordal seventh at cadences); octatonicism (actually, that’s great for parallel tritones!); chromaticism; and of course plenty of vocal melismas. Preferably combined into the same piece.

    As to lyrics: how about use of slant rhyme? Or, maybe pull a Wagner and have excessive alliteration? Or macaronic language (i.e. changing languages mid-paragraph or mid-sentence)?

    Really, though: most anything would be an improvement.

    • Jacob

      Dude, that would be awesome.

      There are probably only 2 other people who read this blog that know half the things you’re talking about.

      • Glodson

        Man, I was lost at the first mention of tritones…

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

        Ah, my people. :)

  • Rain

    You guys can talk your talk but it works, and… he’s got a hit on his hands. It’s going to be his biggest video so far. Let me know if you got a “theory” for that one. Maybe everyone except for you is idiots. Yeah good “theory”.

  • http://www.godlessteens.com Godless Teen

    Holy FSM, I loved that video so much.

  • Pingback: All the reasons why I hate Christian music – by Godless Teen | Godless Teens


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