Friday, 11 June 2010


I was listening to an episode of Spark the other day and Nora was interviewing Jay Frank. He was talking about how the use of online channels is changing the way that pop songs are written. it's well worth listening to. That's here, if you missed it earlier.

I've been interested in how songs are written for years. I've struggled to write songs for years too. I have, however, been alright at arranging other people's ideas. When part of IndigoEcho, the guys used to talk about how I'd come along and "augment" a simple idea... probably true?!

So, listening to the interview - an particular where Jay talks about the way songs are being arranged to keep people's attention, it got me wondering. I've not been a fan of pop music since the 1960s. I wasn't around in the 1960s, but you know what I mean, right? So I'm not familiar with a lot of pop. I am, however, fairly familiar with a lot of christian music that takes some of it's cues from pop music.

And that's where I got to thinking about how much of our contemporary music in churches has become formulaic. There's a point in the interview where Jay says that at 1:45 in a pop song you need to do something different to keep people's attention. So it is in many contemporary christian songs. It's got a standard, A-B-A-B-C-B structure. And invariably, the most engaging part of the song will be the C-section.

Perhaps it's the artist in me that finds this utterly bewildering. Why would I want to intentionally use a formula to create music. I think that's why I've struggled to write as I find it hard to do anything original!

Now, I'm not saying that all *those guys* who write these songs are following a formula. Neither am I saying it's wrong. I just find it hard to think that this is how we have to do it. There's more. And we're doing more.

We move beyond the song. We push past the boundaries of familiar lyrics and start to sing the songs that speak of where we are at - of how we are living. It's there that we can breathe more authenticity into what we're doing.

I completely understand where Jay was coming from. If you're trying to make engaging songs that will sell - and make money for the label, then go for your life. If you're trying to express your heart, your soul, your song. Forget the formula and see where you end up.

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