WORSHIP & These songs, curated by a team of neuroscientists, create a sensation scientists call “frisson” – a feeling or sensation of excitement, emotion or thrill.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Today there is a great deal of discussion about online worship and if it can be as powerful as face-to-face worship. Students of music theory have known for a long time that a powerful musical experience can be experienced in the concert hall or over headphones. Part of this is because the human brain is designed to react to certain surprising musical motifs and chord progressions. Read this article to learn more about “frisson” and how to incorporate it in the songs you write.

This 715-song playlist is scientifically verified to give you the chills, thanks to “frisson.”

by Sam Gilberg, The Big Think, 5/17/22.

… “Frisson” derives from French and is “a sudden feeling or sensation of excitement, emotion or thrill,” and the experience is not confined to music. Historically, frisson has been used interchangeably with the term “aesthetic chills.”

According to a 2019 study, one can experience frisson when staring at a brilliant sunset or a beautiful painting; when realizing a deep insight or truth; when reading a particularly resonant line of poetry; or when watching the climax of a film.

… Other reliable indicators include the entry of one or more instruments or voices; an abrupt change of tempo or rhythm; a new or unexpected harmony; and abrupt modulation. Music psychologist John Sloboda found that the most common types of musical phrases to elicit frisson were “chord progressions descending the circle of fifths to the tonic.” This is a deeply affecting chord progression common in many of Mozart’s compositions.

The 715-song playlist was curated by a team of neuroscientists and is available on Spotify. It includes some of my favorites (below):

  • Twist & Shout, The Beatles
  • The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky
  • Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton
  • Toccata and fugue in D minor, Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Appalachian Spring, VII, Aaron Copland
  • Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Across the Stars: Love theme from Star Wars, John Williams
  • One for Daddy-O, Cannonball Adderley
  • Moby Dick, Led Zeppelin
  • Wonderwall, Oasis
  • Fields of Gold, Sting
  • Walking in Memphis, Marc Cohn
  • Vincent, Don McLean
  • The Sound of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel
  • This Must be the Place, Talking Heads
  • Rhapsody in blue, George Gershwin
  • Finale, Les Miserables
  • Battle cry, Imagine Dragons.
  • One Day More, Les Miserables
  • Untitled Hymn, Come to Jesus, Chris Rice
  • Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday
  • Sleigh Ride, the Ronnettes
  • One, U2
  • Walk on by, Dionne Warwick
  • Awaken, Yes
  • Oh Come All Ye Faithful, traditional
  • Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
  • Things we said today, The Beatles
  • Born to run, Bruce Springsteen
  • Across the universe, the Beatles
  • Song for the King, Michael W Smith
  • I can’t get no satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
  • Living for the city, Stevie Wonder
  • Ripple, Grateful Dead.
  • Living on a Prayer, Bon Jovi

Read more at … https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/frisson-song-playlist/

WORSHIP & #SundayChurchHacks: Some mid-tempo songs work best in large environments, but not so well in smaller churches. The energy created by a large crowd enhance mid-tempo songs with a liveness because of the experience of an assembled multitude singing together. But in smaller venues more up-tempo songs will be needed to create a liveness and experience for a smaller assembly of worshipers. Song selection should consider which songs best connect to the size of the gathering too.

See the video of the song The Passion by Hillsong Music. It is clearly anointed. And the lead worshiper crying out above the singers, captures the sense of a large cloud of witnesses singing praise.

But sometimes worship leaders, seeking to be faithful to the original recorded in a large auditorium, will cry out above the singers. But this can feel inauthentic because of the smallish size of the crowd assembled.

When choosing worship songs, look to tempos, styles and musical arrangements that have worked best in the past in connecting with your unique audience culture. Don’t necessarily replay earlier songs. But look for common personalities in the songs and wed them with the personality of your congregation (note: each worship service probably has its own unique worship personality).

Here is a helpful chart of the most common tempo markings (with bpm) and definitions from a previous article:

  • Prestissimo (> 200 bpm) very very fast
  • Presto (168 – 200 bpm) very fast
  • Allegro (120 – 168 bpm) fast
  • Moderato (108 – 120 bpm) moderately
  • Andante (76 – 108 bpm) walking pace
  • Adagio (66 – 76 bpm) slow and stately
  • Lento/Largo (40 – 60 bpm) very slow
  • Grave (20-40 bpm) slow and solemn

For more details, see my full article for Biblical Leadership Magazine.

WORSHIP & Here are the tempos that research says make mood-boosting tunes.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Recently I wrote an article about how to keep worship from becoming monotonous. Part of the solution has to do with varying the tempo of the songs and not sticking to a lethargic pace (as I have noticed many churches I analyze doing). Here is more research that explains what makes a song inspirational and provokes a mood-boosting happiness.

“… back in 2015 a music-loving Dutch neurologist did us all a favor and figured out what makes for the most mood-boosting tunes. The impetus for the study came from an unusual source: British electronic brand Alba. Apparently, they wanted to know what made for a truly happy tune and reached out to Dr. Jacob Jolij to get an answer.

Jolij was happy to comply though he did note the obvious – taste in musicis subjective. What gets your friend dancing might have you running from the room covering your ears. “Music appreciation is highly personal and strongly depends on social context, and personal associations. In that respect, the idea of a ‘feel good formula’ is a bit odd,” he commented.

What you can do, however, is ask the listening public to submit examples of their favorite feel good tracks and then analyze those submissions for patterns to reveal what characteristics are generally associated with smile-inducing songs. Which is just what Jolij did. 

He found that the happiest tunes are slightly faster than your average song (between 140 and 150 beats per minute on average), written in a major key, and either about happy events or complete nonsense. Jolij combined these factors into a formula for the happiest song possible and then went searching for existing hits that matched his template. 

Here, to brighten up the tail end of what has been an all around dismal 2020, are the top ten tunes he identified. (Or if you prefer, here’s the same playlist on Spotify.)”

Read more at … “Neuroscience Says These Are the 10 Happiest Songs Ever,” by JESSICA STILLMAN, CONTRIBUTOR, INC.COM, https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/music-happiness-neuroscience.html

Is worship becoming a “slog?” Don’t stick with “Largo tempo” worship songs. Use these 3-steps to intersperse worship with exciting uptempo songs that unite, inspire and awaken. #SundayMorningHacks

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 6/28/20.

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/how-to-keep-worship-from-becoming-monotonous/

Leading worship is something most church leaders delegate. Yet it is also something that a church leader needs to understand and to give leadership.

One of the most confusing areas for church leaders who are not musicians is the importance of tempo.  First I will explain the basics of the song tempo. And then I will show the importance of evaluating it and giving leadership in an area where the church leader may not (yet) have expertise.

Having evaluated hundreds of churches, I find that in many plateaued or declining churches their worship leaders are choosing songs in the Lento/Largo tempo (40-60 beat per minute), which means “very slow.”  And even when worship leaders pick up the tempo, they usually only do so slightly, to the Adagio tempo (66-76 beats per minute) which is “slow and stately” or Andante (76-108 beats per minute) which is “at a walking pace.”

Now, there is nothing wrong with worship songs in these “slow and stately” tempos. But in the plateaued or declining church a lack of higher tempo songs (in tempos which are more celebratory) creates a sense of “slogging” through a worship package.

Worship in the scriptures clearly at times involves an uptempo and celebratory spirit. Look at Psalm 150:1-6…

 Hallelujah!
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
    praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
    praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
    praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
    praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
    praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
    Hallelujah!  The Message Bible 

Monotony can be elevated when a preacher also preaches in a “slow and stately” or “at a walking pace” tempo.  In one client, I witnessed how the entire service seemed laborious, forced and tiresome. The preacher was a gifted and stately speaker. But coupled with a slow and stately worship package, the entire service seemed tiresome. Rather than the preacher’s slow and stately preaching offering a respite from uptempo music, the worship package of only slow and stately music created a Sunday service with little variety, but much monotony.

For many leaders they will want to encourage the worship leaders to intersperse Moderato and above tempos (108+ beats per minute) into most worship lists. This creates ebbs-and-flows during the worship package with both …

  • celebration/reflection,
  • excitement/calmness
  • energy/stillness
  • structure/flexibleness

Here is how a non-musical leader can evaluate worship (and what they should do if they need to lead improvements).

  1. Record each song and measure each bpm (beats per minute). Applications are available to measure this.
  2. Is there a variety?  When do songs under 108 bpm occur? When do songs over 108 bpm occur?
  3. What needs to change?  Are uptempo songs needed during the worship package to energize the worshippers?
  4. Find songs in the tempos needed to create variety and inspiration.

Here is a helpful chart of the most common tempo markings with definitions and bpm:

  • Prestissimo (> 200 bpm)   very very fast
  • Presto (168 – 200 bpm)       very fast
  • Allegro (120 – 168 bpm)    fast
  • Moderato (108 – 120 bpm)   moderately 
  • Andante (76 – 108 bpm)   walking pace
  • Adagio (66 – 76 bpm)   slow and stately
  • Lento/Largo (40 – 60 bpm)   very slow
  • Grave (20-40 bpm) slow and solemn

Remember, every leader may not be a musician. But every Christian leader is called to be a worshipper.

Read the original article on BiblicalLeadership.com https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/how-to-keep-worship-from-becoming-monotonous/