Thanks to Mark Snyder for sharing this tech review with The Worship Community.
I recently had the opportunity to take a look at some cool new technology on the IPod/IPad. I am not a ‘worship techie’ as much as some people, but I do like to look at technologies to arm the small church and small group gatherings, because this is where I do most of my worship leading time and where I like to target our worship resources.
Backing tracks and technologies to play them are great. Loop programs such as Ableton, GarageBand, or even just a keyboard are great to allow the band to ‘virtually’ come alongside a vocalist or single guitarist for a fuller sound. The biggest issue with loops is allowing spontaneity – how can you repeat a part, loop a part, or even just jump to a quiet instrumental then back into a chorus? Well-trained live bands can do this and they know how to do the transition, but a looping program is lacking for this.
Enter iSingWorship, from The Innervation Trust in the UK, iSingWorship is an app for your IPhone 4 or IPad that is based around some groundbreaking technology designed to solve the free-flow problem I described above. What these folks have done is to craft a way for a backing track to seamlessly jump around in a song, from any part to any part, and sound natural. Say a song is written like this:
With iSingWorship, you could do
Chorus (quiet) (x2)
Or any other arrangement you want. You could preplan it or change it on the fly, as you go. The interface is simple and clear, you can just touch the part you want to do next. There are options to remove the vocal or acoustic guitar, so you can set it up for a vocalist or single guitarist/vocalist. There is also a feature to show you lyrics and chords, and to project your lyrics against backgrounds using a video out cable from your IPad or phone. Basically, you show up, hook your IPad to a speaker, hook your output to a TV, and you are leading worship with a band. Its all very simple to use and sounds great. The main interface looks like this:
What is neat about this and why this technology works is what iSingWorship calls Smart Audio Transition Technology (SATT). What this does is allows the track to be recorded and processed so that all of the transitions, no matter what order you select, sound natural. You are in control of a virtual band that seamlessly does what you tell it, naturally. The technology knits together instrumental tracks (called stems) in a way that the sound of each transitional section is natural. Its a neat technological trick.
Besides the one-man worship leader role this technology enables, iSingWorship would also be a great tool for teaching new songs, practice time for instrumentalists or vocalists, teaching melodies to new songs, or even serving as a virtual songleader in a pinch! Like other programs, iSingWorship has a set of available songs, primarily oriented around CCLI top 100 content at this point. Songs are reasonably priced for the small church at $1.99 each. iSingWorship developers Zarc Porter does have a desire to build up their song catalog to a wider variety of material. including offerings from independent artists. The program is free to download and there is a sample track that you can try for yourself and see how it all works.
Simple to use, reasonably priced, great technology, and a growing catalog – iSingWorship will definitely find a niche in those smaller churches and home groups. Highly recommended and free to try. Just log in to the app store and give it a go.
Mark Snyder is a longtime worship leader, software engineer, and lead songwriter for the Tree Hill Collective (www.treehillcollective.com). He runs the web site www.weekendwarriorworship.com as a resource to provide songs for the church from its weekend warrior songwriters, focusing on the art of the worship song as it applies to the worshiping church of all ages. Mark has a wife and two grown sons and resides in Glendale, AZ, with his wife of 27 years Roseanne.