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.


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6 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Yes, the Kingsmen did it on Big and Live.

  2. Wasn’t this a cover of an arrangement originally recorded live by the Kingsmen?

    I agree some adjustments should have been made on the studio version to carry the momentum to the end of the song. On the original, if I’m remembering correctly, the Kingsmen were able to depend on the reaction of the crowd and the other group members to sustain interest, but on a studio recording it’s like, “Wow,” and then everything immediately goes back to normal.

  3. Song sounds fine to me.

  4. If you’ve ever seen the Doves perform this one live, then you’d understand even more what DBM refers to by an audience sustaining the song’s interest/impact. Believe me, it doesn’t lose a thing!

  5. The Doves haven’t come close enough to my part of northern Ohio that I have been able to see them at all since I discovered Southern Gospel. I do hope to catch them live someday, and I look forward to hearing the song live.

  6. DBQ will be in Mt. Sterling, OH at the Westfall High School (7:00pm) on March 3, 2007. I don’t think that’s very far from you. I hope you get the chance to see/hear them.