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Song Selection and Tracking

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  • Song Selection and Tracking

    There are plenty of resources out there for getting charts, sheet music, and lyrics. And likewise there's many systems for displaying and distributing said materials.

    What I'm curious is, how do you guys pull together the music each week? Do you have a master list and scratch out what you performed recently? Do you just pray about it and pick the songs out of a list (or a file cabinet) as you feel the Lord leads you?

    Describe to me the process you go through, please.

    The background is that I think I may have reinvented the wheel but I've had fun doing it as I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to this stuff. I created a database a while back to replace a program that I no longer had access to (I was no longer affiliated with the church that held the license to the program). The database contains all the information related to each song in our "wheelhouse", so to speak. Title, author, lyrics, chord charts, theme, tempo, style, CCLI, Arrangement information, and so forth. I further augmented the database by adding functions to keep track of which songs were played each week, and then spit out a list of songs that we *haven't* performed recently so I could more easily keep things fresh. But of course, I can pick whatever song I want. I created this 10+ years ago.

    I recently started leading worship again so I got ahold of the database and started hooking it to the Internet, in a way, so that I could link directly to SongSelect, and Youtube, for charts and arrangements. I review the remaining songs each week that haven't been performed in the last quarter and create a set list which is then PDF'd and sent to the team for review and prep. I'm working with a current database of about 470 songs that I've further categorized into Adult worship, Youth worship, and Performance. There's a lot that needs to get pruned but it's a starting point for me.

    I'm just kind of wondering if anyone has gone to those lengths to get everything organized?

  • #2
    We use Planning Center, which will do basically everything you listed above. I don't take advantage of all of those features - I pretty much just sort by key, speed, and the last time we played the tune. But the options are there if you want them.
    Eric Frisch


    • #3
      I have a process that is lengthy, but it has never failed me. That said, I mostly work alone, so using this for a team would take a few additional steps.

      First, I would settle on a font size that is the smallest, readable font you can have on a single page. (this doesn't work for iPads or laptops). I prefer Arial or Arial Narrow, between 9 and 11. I would also have a separate font for the title, the author, chords, and copyright info.

      In short, you are to create a huge song collection. But you are to sort them thusly:
      Fast / Slow (Medium songs can go into either group, or both).
      Time Signature
      Direction (To God, To Each Other About God, From God, and Mission-Oriented).
      Tone: Three tones: strident/war-like (the chorus of The Stand), doctrinal/humility (lots of hymns, "Surrender" songs), and ethereal ("Breathe").

      Type out each song, with the verses in paragaph form, and the chords resting atop the full set of verses, separated by slashes "/" to represent time sigs. Have multiple songs per page, in multiple columns. When a new key, start a new page.

      EDIT TO ADD: if the song is heavily repetitious, type the words in such a way that shrinks the size of the song on the page, but is still easy to follow. Treat every song as real estate, with the smaller the setting (without losing its basic flow) means more songs can fit on a page.

      Then you have every like-minded song on a single page, made for easy medleying, one after another. It will also demonstrate serious blank spots for those keys/tones that you are missing (chances are, D-minor songs).

      About the Tone: for guitarists, the songs that are "strident" play best when done in the FORM of either E or G (the sixth note being the (r)oot note. The songs that are "doctrinal" play best when the sixth note is a 3rd (C or D). (Or b3 if in the minor key). The songs that are "ethereal" play best when done in the form of A (sixth note being a 5th). This could mean using a capo to get to the right tone.

      If the capo is too high (past the seventh fret), then a second approach is to use a partial capo and/or a spider capo to get the fourth or fifth note to double up on itself. This is why the partial capo (cut-capo) sounds ethereal, even if it ends on a (r)oot note... the 5th note (b) is played on both the fourth and fifth strings. The doubling adds to a quiet dominance of that note, even if it is not the last note one subconsciously hears.

      Anyhow, songs of this nature are great to play around with, to see all the original jigsaw permutations one can have between different songs. It's a wonderful way to keep songs alive.
      Last edited by NickAlexander; 09-06-2017, 11:49 AM.
      Nick Alexander
      Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
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