Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#170 Dramatic key changes

posted by Stephanie Drury

change.jpgAfter singing the chorus nine times in a row the worship team likes to kick it up a notch. Literally a notch, one step up from the key they were just in. The key change always occurs towards the end of a praise and worship song and signifies that the end is nigh.

Church-flavored drama sweeps the sanctuary. You might get goosebumps or nausea, depending on your personal resonance or baggage surrounding the whole church thing. The worship team is really getting into it now. Every eye closed, every expression pained! You may feel the key change was intended to work your emotions, and you may be right.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 1:50 am

This is a lot of why I had to stop going to church. I realized that the music I heard during movie previews would give me goosebumps similar to those I got in church, and figured out that what I was feeling in church was not an authentic spiritual experience. I was getting played.
I don’t like getting played, and I felt so betrayed and gullible that I’ve never really been able to go back.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 4:17 am

I believe these key changes are usually the point when the “Jesus Hands” (palms out, sky high) take full effect.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 6:17 am

I have friends who lead worship who actually have competitions as to how many people they can get to put their hands in the air during the key change. Whoever gets the most wins… At least they’re aware that just because it’s emotional, doesn’t mean it’s spiritual.

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Still Breathing

posted July 13, 2010 at 7:58 am

Not guilty! When we start in a key we finish in it; mainly because idiots like me can’t transpose / move the capo quickly enough. On the other hand our organist uses key changes in the hymns!

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posted July 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

I hope you guys don’t let stupid stuff christians do compare to what and who Christians are. Don’t reduce us down to the least common denominator and then look at that representation and say that’s what a christian is.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 9:23 am

Jon – no, we don’t say that’s what a Christian is. I think the point of many of these posts is that this is what some Christians think you have to be to be “a Christian” in their eyes, when actually many of them include or invite unpleasant traits such as bullying, manipulation, dishonesty, and unquestioning stupidity. This is surely the very opposite of the radical Jesus of the Gospels.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

Jon, I second Serena. Actually, we do the opposite here. We examine the habits that the culture perpetuates and discuss more what a Christian isn’t than what a Christian is; who they are. Defining a Christian is nearly impossible seeing that we’re created in God’s infinite image and simply saved by grace. Christian culture is guilty of defining a christ image. The more committed one is to the culture, the more committed they assume one is committed to Christ. Personally, I understand Christ’s love more now, than in my key changing, hand raising, eye clenching days. Many folks I know who are deeply committed to the culture do not believe this is possible. They assume I no longer have faith though I’ve tried to explain that I simply lost faith in my church, but not in my God. Nor have not lost faith in the church as a whole. I simply question the habits they insisted would prove me worthy of Christ. The habits were a distraction. I have no faith in them. I am rarely met with an understanding ear. My seeking has been discounted. Perhaps this suggests that they (not all of them) are the ones defining christians according to their culture. We are merely defining the culture, knowing full well that it does not make the Christian.

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posted July 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm

In the magnificent show, “Spamalot” there is a duet, “Whatever Happened to my Song?” that explores and exploits this very thing. T
This is a technique used in pop love songs. A couple of pieces have been written that are simply the outline for lyrics and misic that point this out. It is a cheesy technique that I have not cared for much ever since I was a kid in the Junior choir. 50 years later we still do it. Harumph

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posted July 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I have yet to hear an effective key change (in this manner) while in a worship service. By the time it is invoked, they have completely worn out the chorus. Changing the key doesn’t change that fact. :) I’m just ready to be done with the song.
And, in response to jon, it isn’t that we’re attacking a strawman, it is that we want something more from the church. For example, how is Christianity different from the world when Christian culture sometimes looks more like a microcosm of society itself? Please don’t wimp out and say, “we’re only human,” because Jesus calls us to rise above our ‘only human’-ness and love others unconditionally.

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Julie Presley

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

The Spirit lives in the transition chord! That’s the only time He gets out (at least in OUR church it is.)!

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Rocky Presley

posted July 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

You guys are so 1991! Don’t you know that now, the key change is not the end all be all of a super rocking worship song. It is the octave shift! Mind you, mostly only guys can do it, save that Kim Walker girl who can sing freakishly low. Basically, it works like this. You write a song at the bottom of your range, and you ride low during the entire song like a cholo cruising down Ventura Blvd. on a summers night. Then after a bridge that gets you all worked up with the promise of “something more” or “you suck, but God really digs you” and BAM, you hit ‘em with the octave, and like Bono soaring to impassioned heights, lead us all into the holy of holies, which most of the times leaves men awkwardly trying to sing the 3rd part above the lower octave, because, well, most just can sing as high as your super singer boy of a worship leader!
Ceezeeboy, I think God is in more things than just church music. I have experienced God through plenty of other art forms, and in truth lately, it seems to be the only way I experience God, but I feel that that same feeling that you had during that movie and at your fellowship was the same Spirit moving your heart to a place of heightened awareness. From the way I see it, God is an emotional being who created me to experience and express emotion, and knows how to speak to my heart when the Church falls miserably short. So maybe you weren’t being conned by anything other than your scruples telling you that something that was of God is not. Or maybe you went to a fellowship that tries to manufacture moves of God to get their congregations worked up, but that experience may have been God working in spite of their intentions and using a system that is flawed and broken to still move in the lives of His people.

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Julie Presley

posted July 13, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Ceezeebee, I was thinking along the same lines as Rocky too. Maybe music is the way that your heart connects. It’s my language too. I see (hear) God in all kinds of different music, and plenty of it isn’t what the Church would deem “Christian”. Coldplay, Snow Patrol, for example, dude, God has met me in some songs that some Christians wouldn’t even listen to. He’s not limited to what a worship leader, or a song writer deems is worthy of His presence. Thank GOD for that. Sorry Chris Tomlin.

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posted July 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

My favorite example of this is “Shout to the Lord.” It’s so impossible for me to sing too.

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posted July 15, 2010 at 4:27 am

I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that in ‘Dream on’ Steven Tyler does a double-octave-shift. And that was in the 80’s (or even 70’s), proving that Aerosmith were way before their time.

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posted July 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Veronica, ugh, “Shout to the Lord.” I hear you. That awful song came into vogue during a particularly memorable and terrible year in my youth group, and as a young earnest Christian culturalite member of the “youth praise team” I sang the hell out of the harmony to that song…over…and over…and over…oh, PTSD, how you attend my memories of church.
Chrissy, I love love LOVE your statement that “[d]efining a Christian is nearly impossible seeing that we’re created in God’s infinite image and simply saved by grace.” Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. That’s exactly how I’ve been thinking — and so succinct!!
Rocky and Julie, LOL about the octave shift and the Spirit’s life in the key change.

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posted July 15, 2010 at 3:56 pm

We don’t have a lot of key changes, but at the beginning of the last verse, the pedals on the piano see a lot more action.

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Rocky Presley

posted July 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

Goperryrevs, obviously Aerosmith takes into play when writing the perfect worship song. You need a theme that speaks to the heart, whether that is sex in an elevator, crying over a breakup, or the unrequited dreams of the heart. Then you need a really great look about you. Maybe you dress up your mic stand, or you get that right haircut, sport that white belt, a fashionable pants suite, your sisters jeans, a tattoo or few, or any combination of what is deemed necessary to put the rocker vibe out there. Then you try your songs out on an audience. If it is received well, or better yet, and far more importantly, if the songwriter is received well, then into the studio, cut a record, a music video (which is typically that worship song in front of adoring fans who think that you get them closer to God), and yes, when the moment comes, the single octave. But let’s be honest. There isn’t a guitar wielding, euro mullet sporting worship leader out there than can hold a candle to Steve Tyler. The guy is a rock god, and I pay tribute at his alter of greatness!

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posted July 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

Rocky, You’re cracking me up these days. I’m glad you’re back :)
Sarah, Thanks for always caring about what other people have to say. I’ll keep saying stuff. Please do the same! :)
Everyone, Manipulating key changes are a bit melodramatic. Yes?

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posted July 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

Oh duh. Just realized the post is called “Dramatic key changes.” Melodramatic may be redundant. However, during special events, retreats, holiday services, and communion, the drama is heightened. On those occasions even the “weak” or “not on fire” christians stand up, close eyes, raise hands, and the backsliders cry and come up to receive prayer. We could call that melodramatic, right?

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posted July 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I used to be in a church band, and I before I left the church, I had a long conversation with the worship leader about how I felt I could control the “holy spirit” with my drumming. By slowing down the beat and ramping it back up with crescendo, I could get peoples hands up and voices shouting. Combine that with a key-change and you’ve got the goosebumps of the lord.
Love the blog,
Glad I’m no longer a hypocrit
Keep it up :)

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posted August 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I used to be a worship leader at an independent bible church. We used to joke about “taking it one step closer to the Lord.”

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lil wayne

posted November 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

OMG, these comments are cracking me up! love it. First time to the blog. Really great stuff.

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