“Mercy” from Bethel Worship is one of my new favorite songs. The message captures a significant work of God in the Church today. The music is fairly simple, but with enough flavor to make it really interesting.
It’s sort of a fast slow song. My initial impression was that it was a slow worship song, but when I went to learn it, I realized the tempo is just a few beats shy of some of our most high-energy praise songs. A few meter changes add to the interest as well.
For this cover, I recorded drum loops in Ableton Live. I didn’t have the exact samples I needed in every case, but the rhythm matches the original very closely. I sequenced the first verse through the second chorus. A second sequence combines four repetitions of the bridge with a final chorus.
For flexibility in live performance, I can opt to sing the first verse sans drums before starting the sequence and repeating the verse a second time. The break after the second chorus allows the instrumental to be flexible. And an additional Ableton scene for the chorus allows me to add a repeat of that section at any point.
For sounds, I assembled some patches in Mainstage using mostly sounds from Synth Layers for Piano 2. I create a set of four different patches – soft, medium, loud, and end – for different dynamic levels within the song. Switching patches creates different mixes of my patch layers for soft and loud sections.
Having the SLP2 patches pre-mapped makes them super easy to combine. I start with a bright layer and an arpeggiated sound. I combine them into one patch, which I then duplicate and mix for different volume levels. My next step is to combine the patches into one set.
I also included three other layers: piano, pad, and string bass. These mostly go throughout the song (except for the bass, which I mix in with a MIDI knob when I need it). For smoother performance, I place these layers at the set level. They remain unchanged and continuous as I switch the other patches.
For “Mercy,” I did something new with the arpeggiator. In the bridge, I wanted the arp to be like the original recording, not continuously playing notes. I set the note rate to 16th’s (it was at 8th’s for the rest of the song) and switched from Live mode to Grid.
With the pattern length set to 16, I raised the level of the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 9th notes of the pattern. This played notes on those 16th notes and left the others silent. I kept a touch of delay for more texture.
The Grid mode gave me just what I needed for this song, and I will definitely be using it more in the near future.
I made a few changes to the chords. In the verse, I played the chord roots in the left hand with the 5th and 3rd in the right hand. This gave well-spaced, complete chords that also outlined the verse melody.
In the chorus, I did my typical alterations, working in the 1st and 5th scale notes (in the key of F major) to the chords for a clean, modern sound.
For more on how you can put these techniques to work in your playing, check out…
- Fluent Piano Chords for more on making your chords sound great,
- Synth Layers for Piano 2 to play these sounds for yourself, and
- The Mainstage Keyboard Course to harness the incredible keyboard sound capablity of Mainstage!