Producing a Song: Whence the Climax?
The other day, I was listening to Jerry Martin’s rendition of “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet” from the Dove Brothers’ Shout it Out CD. The musical high point of the song is in the second verse, when Martin sings the lines “Perhaps you’d like to greet me / When my race down here is run.” In the time it takes to sing four words, “down here is run,” he goes up an octave and a half, spanning two octaves within the course of the line.
The song has been building to this point, and Martin lets everything loose to hit that big note.
But then comes the part that puzzles me. Martin doesn’t jump octaves, transpose, or do anything else to carry the heightened musical tension of the moment through the chorus. Instead, he sings the rest of the verse and into the chorus in the same octave, key, and (at least approximately) tempo in which he sang the first verse and chorus.
Although Martin does go high at the end of the chorus, it is several notes lower than the note he hits in the verse, and it is not as dramatic a moment. Specifically, he hits a D above high C in the chorus, as compared to the G above high C he hit in the verse.
Typically, when a song is produced, the climax is either put at the end of the song or at the end of the final verse or bridge. Here, it is put halfway through the second verse. But then the song loses the momentum it had built up to that point.
I wonder just what the producer and arranger for this album were thinking, and I wonder what they could have done differently to keep the momentum generated by that vocal high point in the song.