A Beginner’s Guide to Worship Flow

Photo credit:  Joe Marsh (Flickr)
Photo credit: Joe Marsh (Flickr)

Ever felt a dead silence in between songs and the congregation just stares at the worship team (you)? Even though it may be 30 seconds, they’ve kind of broken out of the worship. Our goal is to minimise distraction and lead worshipers into a continuous stream of praise. The solution is to create flow by linking songs. Here is a great article by Paul Baloche on flow. I’ve just begun learning how incorporate flow and I would like to share some tips that have helped me. Hopefully it will bless your worship team too:

1. You don’t always need the same key for all songs

The simplest option would be to choose songs all in the same key for example, all in G. Then there would be no problems in linking right? In a sense, you’re right but some keys are better suited to different songs and can’t be fitted into the same mold. My suggestion is to have keys progressing upwards (G A B C) or not-so-common downwards (C B A G) depending on the journey you want to lead the worshipers through. Another way to progress is to move through the musical cycle which is the 4ths (G C F B) or 5ths (G D A E). I haven’t tried that out. That could be interesting.

2. Vary the dynamics

In my church normally we start with a fast song to wake the worshipers up in the morning! It may not always be the case. You may want to start with a meditative song, a mid tempo type and increase progressively between songs. And it’s best not to alternate fast and slow songs – that’s simply jarring like a whiplash. When transitioning from fast to slow songs, I learnt that you got to slow down much earlier than the last few beats. A sort of cool down time if you will or the shift would be too abrupt. You don;t go for a buffet immediately after a roller coaster ride. During linkages, you could drop out certain musical instruments unless you want to carry over the energy level to the next song. If not, drop the intensity or some instruments. For example, only have guitar or drums to connect to the next song. It lets the music breathe better.

3. Now to the nitty-gritty

If you’re transitioning songs to a different key, what can you do? First off, you can play the hook or bridge of the next song in the same key (G) and once you hit the verse, you change to the desired key (This is more suited for small step ups not huge jumps). For huge step ups like 4/5ths cycles, play the 5th of that key as a connecting chord. For example, when changing from key of G to D, hit a linking A7 which is the 5th of the key of D. Or to change to E, hit a B7. The 5th chord is perfect for flowing into the new key naturally. Extra tip: Instead of resolving to the root G on the final chord of the previous song, go to the A7 immediately.

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