Podcast Episode #174: Ryan Dahl on Choral Orchestrations

Ryan Dahl is the founder of Praisecharts and someone who is always pushing the envelope when it comes to serving the church.

In this interview, we talk about arranging for choirs, making partners out of competition, and supporting musicians who are feeling left behind by technology.

On creating choral charts

I got to lead worship and play piano with Charity Gayle and Travis Cottrell at a recent conference, and it was a life changing experience. I’m up on stage with these amazing artists and this huge choir, and I’m asking myself “What am I doing here? How did I get here?” It was incredible and I just decided it was time to dive into choral arrangements at Praisecharts.

Most worship songs aren’t designed with the choir in mind and Covid has definitely put a damper on choir participation. But I think it’s so amazing to get all these people to sing together, with arrangements that are made specifically to showcase this piece; I just want to get arrangements out there that bring that to Sunday morning. We are introducing the Praisecharts Signature Sessions that take the songs orchestrated for choir and orchestra. It’s cinematic and beautiful and it’s lighting us on fire.

We need to dream. I love acoustic, candle light worship with 12 people. I regularly lead in a space like that and I love doing that but what else can we do? We’ve started dreaming about what it would look like to have a 100,000 person virtual choir. I’m into the big, the small and everything in between.

On turning competition into partnership

Here’s something that’s interesting. SongSelect by CCLI is probably our biggest competition. We both create song charts and arrangements but we’ve recently come alongside one another to support each other’s business. SongSelect is putting links to our choral music throughout their site and we’re working with CCLI to show people where they can use their CCLI license. Business is so often a dog eat dog kind of a world but it’s amazing what happens when ministries can see beyond competition and instead look at how we can further the kingdom together. It just flips the whole thing on its head.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could run our business like the Church instead of run our church like a business.

I think there are probably a lot of acoustic piano people like me that are feeling a little left behind by technology. I go to my church and there’s this beautiful grand piano half covered on the back of the stage and this little keyboard with a laptop at the front with a computer and I’m asking “what is on that thing?” The world of patches is so big. You’ve got 600 sounds and you can make you keyboard sound like a synth, a piano, a mellotron, a spaceship... for some of us that’s just too much so we created Worship Keys.

It works on a $30 program anyone with a Mac can get and it’s just a very simple approach to the keyboard tones you need as a worship musician. It’s all simple, it sounds great and organized in a way that makes sense. There’s literally a patch called “altar keys”. It’s an everything you need and nothing you don’t kind of approach. We currently have both a basic sounds pack and we’re growing a song specific pack. It’s just another way we can serve the church musician.

Check out PraiseCharts and all the cool things they're doing for the church.

Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Kristina Kislyanka leads worship and student ministry at her church in Washington state. She’s passionate about songwriting, producing music, and growing community within the Church. Kristina is a member of the Maverick City Music Choir. 

Podcast Episode #174: Ryan Dahl on Choral Orchestrations

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