Improving Your Transitions Using Clicks And Loops

Featuring Loops In Worship Posted on June 23, 2010

We’ve all been in or led worship services where the transitions were less then stellar.  Awkward key changes, drastic tempo changes, unrelated random worship leader stories… the list goes on. When you add click and loops to the equation the awkwardness has the ability to grow even larger.  We’ve all experienced the awkward “stare back at the drummer look” while the drummer starts the click for the next song.  The silence between songs then a sudden loop starting after the drummer has fiddled with the computer for a few seconds kills any momentum the service may have started.

The space between our songs is one of the most crucial aspects of our service.  We often overlook those transition periods to focus on killer new arrangements to only have them trashed by our less then excellent momentum between songs.  In this article we’ll take a look at a few quick and easy ways to improve transitions using clicks and loops.
Make your countdown song the same tempo and key as your first song

As your countdown video/song ends have a loop start.  If the loop is in the same key/tempo as your countdown song the flow will be flawless.  You can have a vocal countdown in your ears so that the band starts right on time, as the countdown song ends.  This will help build up the anticipation of the service starting while creating great flow.  If you want to go for the gold, have it all synced to video to make even the most ardent transition purists drool.
Start your next song immediately with a loop

In Live it’s extremely easy to set it up so that as you end your last song you can trigger your next song to start on the downbeat of one.  Don’t have just the click start, but start with a loop right out of the gate.  You could have the band hold out a chord or have them trashcan and have the loop put you in your new tempo. Having your band hold a chord will very easily create a smooth flow into your next song.  Go for the gold and have your loop start in the key of your previous song.  As your drummer swells into the new song, crank into it with your band hitting strong.
Start your next song without click or loop

As soon as the last song ends start an acappella or acoustic-led chorus of your song. Let the previous song die down just a bit and then crank right into a low chorus of your next tune. Don’t worry about your tempo in fact it will sound better if you do it a little slower then normal. Let it breathe, do it a few times as you feel led.  We tend to schedule the heck out of our services and make sure every second is accounted for…so take some time and enjoy the freedom!  As the last time through the chorus ends have your drummer start the click so the band can get tempo.  Diamond (hold out) your last chord and have the band come in strong (i.e. old school “My Glorious” Tomlin style.)

Quick note: If you do this you’ll want to practice and get used to playing at a tempo different then the click… Sounds kinda like it defeats the purpose, huh?
This is a skill worth developing only after you develop the skill of being able to play the intended tempo of the click. Shout out to David Mckinney for his ability to play and talk while having a click blaring in his ears.  I saw him develop this skill while on the LU Campus Band with him and realized it’s an very important one to have.
Buy a Midi controller

There is nothing worse than seeing a drummer turn over to his left to fire a click and having him fiddle around forever to fire each song.  Here’s an awfully cheap and effective idea if you’re a drummer.  Buy this controller! It’s only 50 bucks. Throw some velcro or gaff tape on the back of it and put it on the top of your kick drum.  Or attach it to a mic stand and position it to where you can reach it easily without a lot of fiddling around. If you’re a keyboardist you can do a similar thing.  Set it on your keyboard so you can trigger loops without changing positions.
Slice up your song

Fire the intro loop for your next song right after your previous song, similar to example 1.  As your intro loop plays it will loop over and over.  It will give you the freedom to say what you want, read scripture, introduce your song, etc.  You don’t have to be concerned with timing because the section  will continue to loop until you stop it.  When you’re done talking give your drummer a nod and crank into the full loop.  Using loops this way will require developing great communication between you and your band members.  You’ll have to be able to communicate just as well non-verbally as you do verbally.  Learn to give each other hand signals to show how to transition between verses and choruses, etc.  You know you’ve reached the ultimate goal when get a simple look from a band member and you know exactly what to do.