Writing and Producing Music for the Church
Does your church want to start writing its own music? Do you already write your own music, but now you want to release it? Matt McCoy sat down with producer Andy Walker to hear his tips for writing and producing music for the church. Whether your church is ready to release your own album, or you hope to one day, check out these three helpful tips!
1. Write songs for YOUR church
If you start out with the process of writing and producing music as a church with the goal of being famous, making money or having the world hear your song, you aren’t approaching this the right way. If that happens, that’s great. But if these songs don’t resonate at your church, they won’t be authentic.
Andy: “If you try to write a song for a thousand people, only one person will hear it. If you write a song for one person, a thousand people may hear it. There’s something about writing about the unique experiences of your church. When you have a writing session at your church, don’t go into it thinking ‘this song has to be sung on Sunday morning’. Go into it thinking ‘even if no one ever hears this song besides the people in this room, we still got to talk and worship God together and dive into his word to try to create something from that.’ That has value.
Make a full dedicated day for writing music together as a church, and even if none of the songs that come from it are sung at your church, it can still be very impactful. Then, once you finish these days, you can analyze what songs might be good for a Sunday morning, and proceed from there. Try it in your worship services and see if it feels like a fit.
2. Live or Studio Recording?
When you get to the point of wanting to record your songs, you need to decide if you want to record it live or in a studio. There are a lot of factors to take into account. First think through what you’re trying to accomplish.
Andy: “With a studio recording, you can do a lot of cool creative elements that won’t translate live. But if you’re wanting to capture a congregational live feel, I love live recordings.”
Andy then went on to share the “how” of the recording.
Andy: “There’s two ways to do it. If you’re doing a studio recording, our steps are demo the song for Sunday, play the song on Sunday, take all of the versions you have of a song and choose which you want to record. Then go into a studio session, track the drums and everything else. On the other side, we started having nights of worship for a live recording. Then we use Dante and record into Logic so we have everything multitracked out and it makes it really easy. We multitrack the rehearsal, the run through and the entire service so that we have multiple options. We also mic the entire room. From those, we pull them into Logic and go over everything. We keep everything that we can, and overdub the rest. Usually we can keep almost everything. It’s been a long time since a ‘live record’ is actually live. Now there are layers on layers to the track.”
There’s no wrong answer when choosing to record live or in a studio. Do what you think works best for your church, your goal for the sound of the song, the cost and the equipment that you have available.
3. Have a strong melody
We remember great songs for their melody. Sometimes worship leaders and songwriters can be so focused on chord progressions, or small parts of the song that aren’t as impactful, that the melody is lacking and the song doesn’t stick.
Andy: “Revelation Song is the same four chords the entire song. Reckless Love is the same chords the whole song. There are so many great songs that are the same progression the entire time. Making sure that your melody is strong. You can have the best lyrics in the world, but no one will remember it if the melody isn’t good. That’s where songs can go farther than sermons. I don’t remember what our sermon last month was about. But I can sing three dozen worship songs from memory. Focus first on the melody, then the lyrics, then the music.”
Keeping this in mind can help you write songs that are more impactful for your church!
Andy and Matt answered a lot of other questions and gave more practical insight in the full interview. Watch it below!