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I need your feedback
Many of you have now read my article about making successful worship melodies so what I am eager to find out is did you follow what I said about the six tones and three consecutive notes done many times throughout your new song? Were people suddenly significantly more interested in your music or did people want to play music with you more often? Did the crowds get larger or would people make a special trip just to hear you sing again whereas before they did not care so much. Do you feel your music talent has increased significantly just by making a few changes to the way you make your melodies? When you made your new songs with six or more tones, did you feel you no longer wanted to write those four note songs that are not popular? One thing I do not want you to do is send me back a response filled with compliments about me because I am very much interested in whether the article has made a difference in your music and how. Is your church music director very pleased with the change in your music? I played a couple of my songs to a missionary I have known for decades using my methods and he said my songs really come from my heart. Unfortunately at this time I don't have time to tour. If you are having trouble with the words of your song, try reading my companion article about powerful worship lyrics.
Its tough writing a dissenting opinion... you are welcome to your own opinion, and the last thing I would want is any conflict.  But as far as giving you feedback, I have to say that I disagree.

Looking just at your advice  - there are only 7 notes in a diatonic scale anyway so it's kinda like saying "use a scale" which isn't anything new.  One of the more common scales used in popular music is the pentatonic (5 notes) so you might have rediscovered that fact sort of. But wouldn't it be better advice to talk about such scales, their differences and the feelings they tend to evoke?

As far as counting notes and your underlying premise: For all I know you are completely aware of the musicology research done at MIT, and and are a major user of their computer-aided musicology tools like music21.  I've dabbled some - its Python programming so I couldn't resist. But though its exremely easy to capture all sorts of data ("Ooh, look at all of the times Beethoven, or Stephen Curtis Chapman or whomever used a C# followed by a D) the majority of those comparisons have no meaning.  As they say in statistics "Correlation does not imply causation".

People at MIT like Michael Scott Cuthbert who are crazy enough to spend years doing serious scholarship on it, look for patterns that go much deeper, and are generally rooted in an understanding of such things as the origin and impact of the blues, the changes in society that birthed the music of the romantic composers versus the classical composers, ... that kind of thing.  

There's even some cool modern studies I'd recommend such as the book "Music, the brain, and Ecstasy" that document the different levels (physically and phsycologically) on which we hear, and give some insight into why certain music does what it does.  Its especially interesting to me how they seperate cultural aspects (the music we are used to hearing) and in-built aspects regarding how we process sound.  I think the insights they give are a lot more useful.
Greg is pretty much spot on in his reply. What makes music great, is a very complicated study. Unlike many other artistic forms, music crosses some boundary that not only connects with emotions, but also the soul. For every rule, there is an exception. Studying patterns can be interesting, but it doesn't in anyway guarantee that a song will be good.

I will leave you with one example that comes to mind. A blues guitarist will often bend a note and it will intentionally fall slightly flat. It causes a tension in the music. The note is "technically" incorrect.
This is my reply to gdball and Michael Hanson done with respect and an intention to be informative and not confrontational. The pentatonic scale is mentioned which is five notes which I just learned because I am not a formally trained musician so what I have to say about it is if I said you need to have six or more tones of major scale for the vast majority of songs to become very popular, then introducing a five note scale to the discussion is not required and I did say a five note song in the vocals is achievable when making popular music. I never heard of musicology, Music21, Python programming, and Michael Scott Cuthbert till I read these responses and when I checked these web sites nothing showed up right away which I thought was relevant to crafting Christian worship songs melodies. I would not consult a secular institution on how to create Christian worship songs either although they might know a bit about song melody and instrumental structure. When it comes to blues music, it is not immediately obvious to me that blues music is extensively found if at all in popular Christian music worship songs that are sung in a vast number of churches weekly. Michael said what makes music great, (now I have to assume he is keeping on topic which is popular Christian worship songs sung in churches weekly) is a very complicated subject but you can see I have stated about 15 points and they are far from being very complicated to understand. A rather novice level musician should be able to grasp the points in my article. The opening paragraph in the article, "How To Create Successful Worship Melodies," states you should be able to write about ten songs and most of the ten will be successful which also means you could get one that did not make the grade. In order to properly discredit what I am saying you need to present many names of songs that have four notes in the vocals and are wildly popular. Can you present the names of perhaps 25 popular Christian songs which do not have the three consecutives notes in the vocals and are at the top of the most prestigious worship charts and sung in churches weekly? Can you name me a Christian worship song that has long pauses in the vocals and churches routinely use it widely? Can you present many examples of a popular hymn that does not use a lot of quarter notes? I mentioned a 1,3,5, pattern so is it true that a song like that is not appealing? Again I would like to state that this is done with respect and meant to be informative with gentleness.
Hi Tracy!  I'm very glad to have you here and welcome your participation in the forum!

I've read your article on melodies for Christian P&W songs and it's very intriguing, however your last reply to Greg and Mike has several challenges in it that I'd like to (in respect, not confrontational at all) turn the challenges back around to you.

You said:
Quote:In order to properly discredit what I am saying you need to present many names of songs that have four notes in the vocals and are wildly popular.
that's a good challenge!  however, in your article you don't site any research or references which back up your claims regarding songs with the "four notes in the vocals and are wildly popular."  So, my challenge is actually that you're actually the one who should provide your research or something to back up your claim before anyone needs to try to discredit your claim.  without something to back up your claim, there's nothing to challenge, no need for anyone to try to disprove you without some kind of defense of your claim.  Again, I'm not trying to be confrontational at all, I'm just trying to invoke thought and conversation about the subject.

Quote:Can you present the names of perhaps 25 popular Christian songs which do not have the three consecutives notes in the vocals and are at the top of the most prestigious worship charts and sung in churches weekly? Can you name me a Christian worship song that has long pauses in the vocals and churches routinely use it widely? Can you present many examples of a popular hymn that does not use a lot of quarter notes? I mentioned a 1,3,5, pattern so is it true that a song like that is not appealing?
all of these challenges, again, are very lucrative and thought provoking.  But again, with respect, I believe you need to back up your claims before you can ask anyone to defend a dissenting position.  So my challenge(s) to you is:  Can you present the names of perhaps 25 popular Christian songs which DO have the four consecutive notes in the vocals and ARE at the top of the most prestigious worship charts sung in churches weekly?  and if so, can you provide data to back up that position?
Can you provide data to back up your claim that most popular hymns use a lot of quarter notes?

I myself do not have the time to do any research to dispute any of your claims, nor do I imagine Mike, Greg, or most of the rest of us have time for that either.  But again, (and in respect, not confrontational), I suggest that you should be the one who provides the data to back up your claims before you can require others to back up a claim which "discredits" your claims.

Quote:Again I would like to state that this is done with respect and meant to be informative with gentleness.
and so is mine!  I am not trying to be argumentative or confrontational, I'm simply trying continue conversation and thought with the subject you bring up.  And I'm simply asking for any kind of data or research you might have to back up your claims in your article.  A little bit of data to defend your position will go a long way for credibility!
If I were inclined to look for patterns I can't imagine doing it by hand. IMO you'd need to look at more than 25 songs to be credible, and to avoid bias you'd need to look for more than just your own hypothesis. That's why I mentioned music 21. What the nice secular institution brings is a willingness to share its tools for free. Smile It comes bundled with several hundred years worth of music (much of it Christian) to help support the credibility of any conclusions you might make.

I get your reaction to it though. There's a better description of music21 here in the Journal for the Society of Music Theory.

Frankly, I expected you might hate the journal, at least sometimes. Smile Its not always dry - they do have an article titled: "Playing with Beats and Playing with Cats: Meow the Jewels, Remixes, and Reinterpretations" But that is the sort of place IMO you should consider submitting your ideas. You'll either sway them, or you'll feel like a Noob getting crushed in an online video game. Smile

When you mentioned that you don't understand how the blues applies to Christian music - you should Google that one. The blues is an influence or downright ancestor of just about every genre of modern music.

As far as the significance of quarter notes: Quarter notes themselves are meaningless because there are many ways to write exactly the same thing. A quarter note at 120 BPM is the same as an eighth note at 60 BPM. You can change the time signature from 4/4 to 2/4 or 4/8 and not necessarily change the song. To the listener there is no difference. To the musician, it's is a matter of convenience in counting, communication, and the least amount of paper turning. And yah, there's like a zillion hymns in about any hymnal that are written in 6/8 or 9/8, so mostly eighth notes in those.

And as a reminder, they might not REALLY be quarter notes anyway. What's written is not always what you hear, nor is it what the composer intended for you to hear. The actual rhythm is a pain to write, and an even bigger pain to read so the music you're looking at is a simplification. You can offend pro or older musicians if you write it out exactly for them. Those musicians are aware of traditions for how they're supposed to play/sing a certain style. That's true even (or especially) for orchestras.
Dear Beagle:

    I am pleased to respond to your further requests to back up what I am saying with my own data rather than just making assertions which I feel are true. I was actually going to include the data with my article on melodies but I thought it might be too long if I included the data with examples from songs and then fewer people would read the whole article. I'll try to answer most of the questions and I will consider possibly writing an article that highlights examples of each of the claims I make on what to do and maybe examples of songs who did it wrong.
    One song I really like a lot is You Are My All In All by Dennis Jernigan. If you examine its musical content for the vocals only, the principles it uses which I claim are usually essential but not always essential are: it has eight notes taken from major scales, it has the three consecutives notes going up a scale or down a scale, it does not have long pauses in the vocals for instrumental interludes, it has the heart felt plea when it says, "You are the treasure that I seek," it causes listeners to think of bible verses when it says, "You are my strength," which could easily one of many verses in the Psalms. I give the song a ten point zero.
    I mentioned a good song can be written with the five consecutive notes of a scale so an example of that is The Salvation Poem (Superbook version) sung by Franki Barranco (she's a lady). The original writers were Sherry and Matt McPherson and there's actually more than five notes in the vocals but most of the song is five notes in the vocals and the extra notes beyond the five could easily be edited so there's only five notes in the song. This is also an example of how a song can be improved just by changing the singers. The Mcphersons did a good job on their singing of the song by the way.
    When it comes to long pauses in the vocals, an excellent song to illustrate this is called, "Make Straight The Way," by Derek Blevins and JJ Hanson. Somewhere on the internet Derek sings the song on video probably back in 2007 or 2008 and he has long gaps between the vocal phrases. Just back in the summer the song is sung by a gospel recording artist named Lily Cruz with back up singers echoing her voice and wow what a difference. I expect the version with Lily Cruz singing to get hundreds of thousands of hits or more and it may become very popular in churches once the word gets out. It only has a few thousand hits on the internet and the background video is a car travelling on a winding country road with a lot of green grass and trees in the background. When a song has long instrumental interludes, in a coffee house setting the people start talking to each other during the interlude or their mind starts wandering but not everyone.
    A couple of popular hymns that have a lot of quarter notes in the vocals are, Leaning On The Everlasting Arms, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, and with little thought I'm sure the readers here can quickly come up with a bunch more. An exception to the principle is, When The Role Is Called Up Yonder which has few quarter notes and yet it has the flavor of a hymn and it is a hymn. I should note in the opening paragraph of my melodies article I mentioned writers often write 200 songs before they get one that is very popular. Charles Wesley wrote something like a thousand hymns but only about five hymns are considered his greatest works and based on my article about melodies, I can easily see why they are the most popular. How about, "And Can It Be," or I think, "O For A Thousand Tongues To See, is another of his works.
    Regarding research for the four notes in the vocals, its not hard for me to conclude why Derek Blevins' Make Straight The Way 2016 version is possibly his best song. Look at his other songs that have four notes in the vocals and it is a very rare day that a hundred churches on one Sunday will sing those songs as part of congregational singing. I can only think of one song from my past experiences that has four notes in the vocals that was routinely sung in churches as part of congregational or Sunday school singing. I can think of dozens of songs I like a lot that have six or more notes in the vocals and are sung in a hundred churches on a given Sunday (but I am saying this from a good argument from silence). The four note songs in the vocals usually only get say 2000 hits on the internet or less while songs like 10,000 Reasons get over ten million. I don't like giving names of songs that are not popular but if you want to find one, almost all writers seem to have one so you should be able to find one easily.
    If you look at CD's or prestigious charts that compile the greatest worship songs of all time, the majority of the songs have six or more tones in the vocals and the one CD I would like to refer to is called, "Top 25 Praise Songs-All Time:Maranatha Music..." If you type in that exact web site lettering, you will get the twenty five songs and its easy to see why many of them are there. They are there based on the number of hits through CCLI. There are I think three songs near the bottom of the list that do not have the six consecutive notes of a scale but the one thing that is true is in all three cases, the writer is a very well known group who has done a lot of touring. If someone unknown wrote the same song, they would not be on the CD. I saw that before on another top 25 list a couple of years ago and that group toured about 200 gigs that year. The song As The Deer Panteth was not one on the Maranatha list which surprised me.
    A song which has mostly four notes in the vocals which has been sung many times in services I have attended is called, "Your Love Is Amazing," by Brenton Brown and it's on the Maranatha CD I mentioned. It is definitely an exception to the rule but it looks like it goes in a downward trend on a scale in parts of the song which adds to its goodness.  There aren't long gaps in the vocals either so the singing keeps the audience's attention. Many of the four notes in the vocals songs have long gaps in the vocals numerous times through the song. 
    You mentioned research and references to back up my claims, well my answer is I have no references because this is my original research. The one thing I'm confident is not my original is the heart felt plea mentioned in item #9 of the article but unfortunately I did not write down where I got it from. Paul Baloche mentions the six vocal notes of a scale in his book called, "God Songs," but I was aware of the concept before I read his book.
   I want to leave the readers with some easy homework you can do on a keyboard or if you are a better musician than me (you probably are), you can figure out in your head how many notes of a major scale are in Shine Jesus Shine (Graham Kendrick) and Shout To The Lord (Darlene Zchech). Also look at the other principles I mentioned in the article on melodies and you will easily see why these songs are truly great.
    My list of essential qualities of songs is not an exhaustive and closed list but what it does do is make the chances of crafting a good song go way up and it saves a lot of wasted time on songs that will not endure. I'm getting quite tired so I say good night before I start making too many mistakes.

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