Home » Music In The Church » Don’t Run The Vamp Too Long

Don’t Run The Vamp Too Long

As I was preparing for work this morning, I was listening to the Gospel station that’s part of my cable package (around Channel 400+ or so) as I typically do. A song came on from a Gospel mass choir (that shall remain nameless for the purposes of this blog) and it was a hand-clappin’, foot stompin’ go getter.

OK. No problems there…

And then comes the vamp…

And then comes more vamp…

And then comes even MORE vamp…

Being that this is a TV channel, I can’t skip the song and go on to the next one (like on my iPod or Pandora, etc) so I had to suffer through it. In my suffrage (and subsequent memory of this morning’s suffrage), I decided to look that song up and run some analytical numbers on it. The results are SHOCKING (kinda). Check it out:


INTRO = 21 seconds = 5% of total song
VERSE 1 = 28 seconds = 7% of total song
CHORUS = 19 seconds = 5% of total song
VERSE 2 = 29 seconds = 7% of total song
CHORUS (again) = 19 seconds = 5% of total song
MUSICAL SEGWAY* = 38 seconds = 9% of total song
VAMP = 266 seconds = 63% of total song

*for lack of a better identifying term

…and the sad part is that the song didn’t actually end. It just faded out (which meant that the vamp went even longer). So if you look at the percentages for this particular gospel song (and others like it), most of meat (over half of the entire song) is in a VAMP that never seems to stop. Therefore, to all of my songwriters, I beg you to take heed of these TWO simple thoughts:

THOUGHT #1: If your song is mostly vamp OR heavily vamp dependent, then you need to beef up your verses or your chorus or something. After all, you go to the buffet for the entire meal, not JUST a whole lot of dessert. Selah!

THOUGHT #2: Don’t run the vamp too long lest you lose the attention of the listener.

**FOR ALL OF MY NON-MUSIC READERS, the word VAMP in music refers to “a section of music that is meant to be repeated indefinitely until a signal is given to the group to move on to the next section or the end of the song”.


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