If you’ve been following my “Go Figure” series here, you probably recognize that I’m an advocate for musicians making worship songs their own. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great musical exercise for you and all the players and singers on your worship team to scrutinize a recording of a song and then present it as closely as you’re able to that recorded arrangement. It’s a different kind of musical exercise, though, to take that song and give it your own arrangement. In this article, I’ll look at how you might go about creating an original intro for a worship song.

The most popular song on CCLI right now is “What A Beautiful Name”. Let’s see what sort of original intro could be created for this song. I’m going to look over the leadsheet for the song and see what melodic fragments seem conspicuous. Here’s one that ends the chorus:

Those 2 notes used for “the Name” could be incorporated into a new intro for the song. Check out this option, example 1:

If you were to use this for the intro, your listener would hear familiar melodic ideas from the tune but not long phrases of the melody. Note that I also changed the harmonic rhythm that had been heard in the chorus. Measure 3 changes chords as the original did, but it’s impactful to use these varied chord lengths.

In listening to your favorite recordings, you might have noticed that many times an intro is reused after the first chorus. This is known as a “reintro”. Play a chorus of “What A Beautiful Name” and then play the new material in Example 1. I like that. I think I’ll use it this weekend!

This new material could be harmonized a little differently using a common rhythm called a “push”. That typically means that you play the second chord in the measure on the “and” of 2. Same new melody. Different chord changes. Like this, Example 2:

When there’s a pushed figure like this, the bass player will often play a stream of 8th notes. This magnifies the impact of the pushed chord. Example 3 here shows some accents that might work well.

Since intro material is often reused as a song’s arrangements evolves, you could use this bass activity after the second chorus of the song, setting up the energy of the bridge. You could even utilize the pushed rhythm with the chords of the bridge to tie your intro/reintro musically to the bridge.

Moving on, Example 4 below shows a phrase that ends the verse.

In example 5 here you see how the melodic rhythm can be changed a bit to create new intro material. Sounds familiar yet sounds different from the original. Example 5:

Example 5 has those 8th note pickups into the first measure. If you were to use this as your reintro after chorus 1, there’d be some nice musical momentum realized. Like this, Example 6:

This might feel like way too much analytical thinking to you, but I suspect you and I might hear a similar evolution of ideas if we could sit in a recording studio as arrangers/musicians/songwriters worked out how they were going to present the song.

These creative exercises are so exciting to be part of. Wouldn’t you like to experience this excitement with your team and share your original arrangements with your congregation? I hope so. Look for melodic ideas to develop within your songs. Experiment with changing the harmonic rhythm accompanying those melodic ideas. There’s no end to the musical possibilities available to you and your team.

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