It’s pretty obvious these days that most Christian bands and artists have a bit of help on the platform. From AutoTune to Vocoders, musicians are getting pretty technologically advanced when it comes to creating music for worship. While some of this technology can easily be thrown to the wayside as “trendy” and not worth truly exploring, one simple fact remains: “loops” are here to stay. Originally a loop (as it applies to music) involved repeating a short section of music, a riff or motif, or a repeated background part or texture. While this still may be the case in some instances, bands and artists that use “loops” usually are referring to the background musical ideas and pieces that accompany the live band. Think karaoke without the main instruments and much less lame. Today loops incorporate synth patches and rhythmic textures, drum beats and guitar riffs, and are used commonly to fill out a thin texture or just add a fresh element to a worship experience.
So the question is: should you use them in a worship environment? Obviously there are benefits that loops can bring to the table, including:
- Perfect tempo. Loops are played with a click track that is piped into key musicians’ ears (drums, leaders, etc.), meaning that you’ll STAY in time throughout the entire song.
- Fill-in-the-blanks. Missing a musician you’d really like to have in your lineup? Adding a piano part or some background synth to a loop can wake up an old arrangement and really make your worship set come alive.
- Freedom. Ironically, loops tend to help musicians feel more “free” in their worship: they’re able to play around the loop’s textures, melodies, and harmonic elements in ways that weren’t possible before.
There are certainly other ways loos can add to a worship experience, but as with all good things, they can also come with a price:
- Adds points of failure. Using loops means you’ll need extra equipment, a computer, and someone trained to run them. All this can be a blessing to your ministry, or just chaos. Choose wisely in your setup and you should be fine, but computers inevitably crash and people don’t always show up.
- Money. Buying the equipment to get started may be the option available to you, and while you can save some money following some of our guidelines, budgets always seem to be tightest around uncertain musical ventures…
- Musical constraints. Some of your musicians may not be ready to “hang” with a loop right away, especially if you have a drummer who loves to drag, or a singer who can’t count. These problems can be easy to work around in a normal band setting, but a loop is unforgiving–tempos must be locked in and lead sheets must be accurate!
While brief, these points outline the first things most leaders look for in the pros and cons of introducing loops to a worship team’s repertoire. Playing around with loops should obviously happen during practices and rehearsals, and ONLY when all musicians needed are ready should they be introduced (slowly) to a congregation.
We’ll cover more about introducing loops to a church in later posts, but if you’re interested in learning more, check out our website at www.LoopingWorship.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at LoopingWorship!