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  • Worship team size

    For a contemporary worship (vocals), how big is too big? How many can I have sing on the team before they become a choir?

  • #2
    You know this is subjective, of course, so I'm guessing you're just looking for opinions. I'd love to hear what other people think too.

    Short Answer
    If "contemporary" means Tomlin and Jesus Culture, 4 is the max.
    If you're thinking Israel Houghton or Laura Story, you can go higher. Maybe 6.

    Longer Answer
    I realize with folks like Hillsong United, you can see a dozen people with microphones, but you don't really hear them. This helps illustrate how to treat vocalists based on how many you have.

    3 to 4 singers
    Lead singer (1)

    Harmony and alternate solo are handled by a two people. [preferably, at least one alto or one tenor]
    That's (2) and (3).

    You can squeeze in another singer (4) to double the melody for women or when the lead ad libs

    4 to 6 singers
    You treat them more as back up singers.
    (1) Lead and a (2) Co-Lead, primary harmony
    (36) They sing as one voice. Oohs and ahs, echoes, and things like the words "mighty to save" on the chorus (and not much else)

    6 or more
    You have a choir, so do choir-friendly things (like Israel Houghton and other R&B-ish stuff). Or do what Hillsong does and keep their levels low, understanding they contribute more visually (modeling worship) than musically.
    @iamjskinny
    blog

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    • #3
      I was thinking the same thing. About 3-4 for a contemporary set. On my team we have a lead and anywhere from 1-3 background vocalists depending on availability. Any more than that and the sound might get kind of muddy, especially since most singers are at different stages with their voices.
      All that hath life and breath, praise ye the Lord!
      In His Name,
      Kim

      http://soundcloud.com/inhisname

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      • #4
        It seems to me you're really asking a technical music question rather than a comtemporary versus traditional question. A choir is very different musically from a typical lead singer/backup arrangement, so the answer lies in what you're trying to accomplish musically. Simply put, choirs produce a BIG vocal sound as compared to a TIGHT vocal sound with lead singer/backup situations. Fundamentally when it comes to vocal arrangements all harmonies generally only consist of a triad which is the tonic, the 3rd, and the 5th to work with...plus Bass which is a variation of the tonic. Since the melody line is the tonic, that leaves 2 or possibly 3 other vocal slots to fill on any given song. The question is how big do you want that sound to be?

        For a comparison, are you wanting to accomplish a sound similar to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU_rTX23V7Q or similar to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QvX4CwSmwY

        In both cases I would say these songs are contemporary arrangements, but one is a very tight vocal sound and one has a HUGE sound. Figure out what sound you're looking for and that should answer your question.
        Last edited by DunedinDragon; 08-08-2013, 04:55 AM.
        The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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        • #5
          It seems like this question is the tip of the iceberg...

          When I hear a question like this, there's usually more to the story.

          In my experience, when that question comes up, it's because the leader is getting pressure to let a bunch of singers on the team.

          Not saying you are in that situation, but it's a familiar tune...

          As far as the simple answer, I agree with others that 5-6 is about all you have room for as a contemporary arrangement. There are only so many parts to sing before people start tripping over each other.

          If you do have a lot of singers, many leaders will rotate 'teams' of singers. The leader will arrange 2-3 'teams' where they match up singers (so not all the altos are on one week and the tenors the next, etc) and rotate them through once or twice a month.
          If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mike on Bass View Post
            It seems like this question is the tip of the iceberg...

            When I hear a question like this, there's usually more to the story.

            In my experience, when that question comes up, it's because the leader is getting pressure to let a bunch of singers on the team.

            Not saying you are in that situation, but it's a familiar tune...
            Oh no, you are right on. You described my situation.

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