There are a few key musical factors that can be applied to any song to make fit the current, modern worship sound.
As worship leaders and Christian music consumers, we can't help but marvel at the superb sounds and arrangements we get from bands such as Elevation or Hillsong. Not only do they write these songs for the big "c" Church but they've also very much determine, and continue to pave the way, for what our Western worship sound is. We've deemed this as the "modern worship sound".
Since even lay people consume this sound on the regular, the expectations have risen for how the average worship team sounds. This is all great when you're at a larger church, or in a region where you have access to professional musicians and tech experts. But becomes a larger hurdle if your sources are limited, yet expectations for the sound don't change much.
Granted, every worship leader or musician shouldn't be required to act like a producer for their band when their heart truly is to simply worship the Lord. So there's this tension, how do you arrange these big-sounding worship songs for a maybe 5-piece band at your church? Well, if you've been with Worship Artistry any period of time, you should know this is the heart behind everything we do, to make these arrangements for you accessible to you and the whole worship team.
After years of arranging now over 600 songs (!!) for a 5-piece band, we've pieced together a few key musical factors that can be applied when arranging a song to sound like a modern worship song.
We even had some fun making a video about it...
Every band has some stylistic elements that make it sound like the band that it is. In order to take that style and apply it to another song, you simply need to identify those elements.
First off, most worship songs run around 70 beats per minute. They also typically have wide, textured layers which a lead guitar can replicate. Then, a big wide pad to really fill in the space with some twinkly piano.
Let's say your church wanted to take Amazing Grace and do it more in the modern worship style. If you understand the elements, it's very simple to do.
The modern worship sound isn't what actually defines worship so if you're often frustrated that you don't have the players to recreate that sound, work with the players you have and create your own sound!