Essentially, complete songs are provided with changeable “tracks” for each component of the song (drums, strings, guitars, etc.) and many churches use them to beef up the live sound and provide the specific hooks and turnarounds.
I don’t get the allure of these things. Is it helpful to worship bands or is it just one more way we’re striving to sound like songs on the radio? I honestly don’t know.
But I know my reasons for avoiding them and I think churches should be a bit more cautious about them. If you use them in your church, I’d love to know the “whys and hows” and what multi-tracks do for your team.
PRIORITY OF PERFORMANCE
Some songs are defined pieces – they have a pre-determined arrangement, run a specific time period and then they’re done. But I think it’s dangerous when songs can’t be modified or adjusted. If we’re called to serve the congregation, that may mean repeating a chorus one week or doing a shorter version. (Or – GASP – even cutting the song!) But when a song is off-limits as a performance piece, we’ve elevated that as having more importance than all the other parts of the service. And that feels like idolatry. We don’t need more things making our worship services like concerts.
The worship music industry consistently produces music that’s impossible to reproduce in a live setting, but that’s not to say we can’t aim for excellence. I stay away from multi-tracks because I want to see if our band can learn those hooks instead of letting my laptop do them! Maybe we can find a way to add size even though we don’t have a string section! I’ve got great musicians and I want them to keep getting better!
WHO IS THIS FOR?
My question for the “tracks” crowd is who benefits from all this production? I don’t believe a specific guitar riff or programmed drum loop are vital for worship to happen and I think most worship leaders would agree. So what is it? Are we buying this stuff to make ourselves feel accomplished as worship leaders? Are we doing so the band can feel like they “nailed it”?
Some of you out there have experience with this stuff. Why do you use tracks? What does it accomplish? And most importantly – what do tracks provide that doesn’t happen with normal instruments?