Archives For My Music

On my wall sits a quote from Oswald Chambers that reads:

.                    “our reach must exceed our grasp.”

The apostle Paul understood the kind of motivation this statement inspires. In chapter 12 of his letter to the early Roman Church, he writes, “do not be slothful in zeal, instead be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

In part, we can bridge from Paul and Chambers to say, that though we may find the waters thick and heavy with thoughts of self-condemnation, self-defeat and self-doubt, we should not surrender to them. Even though we may feel past being able to grasp onto something that will take us beyond these, we must still reach, because we have been reached for!!

Whether all three self-negatives be the consequences of words spoken against us or echoes from an internalized pattern of responses long ago set in concrete by abuse, or lies we’ve told ourselves, the apostle’s much earlier proclamation speaks, denouncing all false claims on us:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1)

It’s healthy to recognize the limitations of our understanding and ability, but we should never let this master us, as though that recognition gives credibility to lords who seek to paralyze, subdue and rule over and against us; as if Jesus Christ wasn’t, in fact, Lord.

To not be slothful in zeal may include taking a step back. Taking time to refocus, or re-calibrate and come back with a different approach in mind; to recognize the struggle as a learning experience; learning through the things that have caused us to become despondent, unresponsive or careless.

Education is in the imperative:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

To be fervent in spirit can involve pushing on through until we grasp that which was once beyond our reach. The proverbial, you have to dig in order to find the gold. In this we hear Dallas Willard’s call to understand that ”grace is opposed to earning, not to effort.” (The Great Omission)

‘To pray without ceasing; to rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12). To not give in to the whispers that in darkness seek to stop and condemn us, by saying “be nothing, do nothing, because you are nothing and can do nothing“.

In the face of this opposition, the apostle speaks, ”Let love be genuine. Hate that which is evil, cleave to that which is good”; “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9 & 12:21).

“Do not be slothful in zeal, instead be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord!!”

As Chamber’s said, our reach must exceed our grasp. If not, we go nowhere for having failed to see how firmly we are already held by God’s grace and the freedom that exists therein.In Jesus Christ we reach for the One who has already reached for us.

Education is in the imperative.

So with all this in mind, here is my creative offering for this week. It is part one of two posts where I have, as a guitarist, musician, Christian and writer, sought to reach beyond my grasp.


Red Halo: Assisi In Chains

February 25, 2017 — 4 Comments

Red Halo RL2017In his biography of St. Francis of Assisi, G.K.Chesterton refers to something he calls a ”Red Halo”. He does this twice in the book. (Link)

Each time the phrase is found in reference to Francis of Assisi. The first occurrence is when some town folk rush to put out a fire where Assisi was praying with Clare of Assisi, only to find, not a fire, but him collapsed and a Red Halo surrounding them. The second is when the younger Assisi is held captive in a dungeon after gearing up as a citizen soldier to fight in a skirmish with a warring neighbour. Evidently, their squad was captured.

‘Something very vast and universal was already present in that narrow dungeon; and such a seer might have seen in its darkness that red halo of caritas caritatum which marks one saint among saints as well as among men.’ [i]

The once-an-atheist, Chesterton wasn’t to my knowledge, and wide reading of his work, into, nor was he an advocate of mysticism. So it’s fair to say that “Red Halo’’ is for intent and purposes a metaphor used to emphasise what he sees as being a strange alien quality to Assisi; something to suggest that Assisi was grasped by something, or rather, someone not of this world.

This week’s instrumental is inspired by that phrase.

‘If a man may well doubt whether he is worthy to write a word about St. Francis, he will certainly want words better than his own to speak of the friendship of St. Francis and St.Clare. I have often remarked that the mysteries of this story are best expressed symbolically in certain silent attitudes and actions. And I know no better symbol than that found by the felicity of popular legend, which says that one night the people of Assisi thought the trees and the holy house were on fire, and rushed up to extinguish the conflagration. But they found all quiet within, where St. Francis broke bread with St. Clare at one of their rare meetings, and talked of the love of God. It would be hard to find a more imaginative image, for some sort of utterly pure and disembodied passion, than that red halo round the unconscious figures on the hill; a flame feeding on nothing and setting the very air on fire.’ [ii]

As for the creative process, my primary goal was to use a riff I had come up with on a tablet. That didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped and as a result, the tune changed into what you hear in the YouTube video. The focus of the melody is the piano. The lead guitar was down in two parts. My idea here was to use it as a filler. The bass is both guitar and keys running through an FX. I also had not intended on the harmony in the background. When I fiddled with the second lot of keys in the effects on audacity the second set turned out as it is in the recording. Slightly eerie, but intensely cool, given the subject matter. As with all things I’m doing here, I’m learning a lot each time and having fun doing it.

As with all of my music, because I am only using free mixing software at the moment, all are best heard through decent speakers or headphones. I’ve found that some headphones cut out the base and others swing the sound to mono.

Pax Christi!


Notes:

[i] Chesterton, G.K. 1923 Saint Francis of Assisi, Henderickson Classics

[ii] ibid, 1923

Music & Art are my own.

(©RL2017)

More reflective/easy listening than I’m normally posting. The bass is slightly sloppy in some parts, but I’m happy with how that turned out. I did add drums to this, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the timing of the sequences.

So, I’ve stuck with the the ”no drums” version. If you think the title is odd; as in it doesn’t fit, I’d have to say I don’t fully disagree with you. Its the title of a poem in the works, hence the tag, instrumental edition, in parenthesis.

I figured the title reflected the artwork, plus the idea of flight was something that seems to fit the tune.

the-light-of-halos-in-flight

I was going to use “Trans Cendent Airlines”, but I doubled back because it’s ambiguous and I wanted something closer to the heart that put this tune together.

Enjoy your flight. 😛

Sola Deo Gloria.

 


Thanks for listening…

phantasmagoriaI apologize for my tardiness this month. I have plenty to talk about, just not a whole lot of time at the moment to put it into the kind of well referenced and presented article that is worthy of you, the reader.

I have however, sat down for the first time in over a month and put together a new song.

Phantasmagoria (We Are the Six O’clock News) is a piece inspired by Larry Norman’s 1972 song ‘Six O’clock News’ off of his album of the same year, ‘Only Visiting This Planet’.

My first goal was to set up a gritty 70’s lead guitar. Then fix the timing of the bass. Something I ended up completely replaying at a slower tempo. I then layered that with keys, and landed with a more modern, rugged and complete sound.

The lack of lyrics and vocals is what probably let’s this down, but I wasn’t trying to create a cover song. I was seeking to create something completely new and ended up here.

I’ve also tried to follow the protest theme by adding a copy of one of my favourite Banksy artworks. (I’m fairly certain that this is public domain, if not, contact me and I’ll happily remove it.)

Norman’s own protest, hits out at how bloodthirsty photo journalism can become, when on the Left it’s used to control a narrative in the service of activism, and on the Right, as a cash cow.

Given that the Vietnam War was the first conflict of its type to bring the war into the homes of ordinary Americans, Australians and New Zealanders, all of whom had supported the South Vietnamese in their struggle against the aggression of the Communist North, journalists and activists, both became and benefited from being, part of the “military industrial complex” in some way shape or form.

While I acknowledge the Randian greed of those on the right during this time in a shared history between Australia and America, it’s just as important to highlight the sins of the Left. When it came to veterans, team ‘’inclusion’’ and “tolerance” went AWOL, spat on, ridiculed, shamed and mistreated them.They were more than happy to use veterans as poster boys, but post-war? Nada. Move on, nothing now of use to us here.

It’s this critique that confronts us today. Neither side can truly save us. All have fallen short of the glory of God and in answer to such, there is no other savior and eternal just judge, for we have but one and His name is Jesus Christ.

‘And what a name for a Judge! The Savior-anointed – Jesus Christ: he is to be the judge of all humanity. Our Redeemer will be the Umpire of our destiny.’
(Charles Spurgeon, Commentary on Romans 2)

Beware the auctioneers.

manger-with-yellow_jesusThe homeschool year has come to an official close. We’ve marked it for you by presenting our own arrangement of ‘Merry Merry Christmas’ from Colin Buchanan’s 2005 album, King of Christmas.

This song was a homeschooler pick. Consequently, they’re the acoustic guitarists heard in the mix. So, this arrangement was somewhat of a joint effort, and it shows some of our key learning outcomes achieved in 2016.

As for the quality of the vocals, forgive the not as-clear-as-could-be lyrics. I used an iphone to record the singing. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, though, because the song’s lyrics have been added to the video; and given the punk-esk lyrical vibe the words aren’t very difficult to pick up.

Like the other two songs we’ve done, I’ve added my own instrumentation including bass line, piano, percussion, lead and rhythm guitars. In no way is it a professional recording nor am I trying to claim it as such. The song is best heard through a headset or something with good speakers.

This for us is just pure fun; action directed towards the heart of God.

Feliz Navidad!

Viva Noël

December 10, 2016 — Leave a comment

augustineFor those following my amateurish musical journey, you’ll notice a difference in the quality. I’m trying to be more deliberate in the layering, compensating for the limits of the free software I’m using. It might go without saying, but I haven’t been all that successful in the past few attempts at this.

A definite aim is to eventually upgrade to Pro-tools. Right now, I’m content with working with Audacity and just maxing out what that has to offer. That can make it difficult to avoid the sometimes kitsch sound, something, I’m happy to say is absent from this recording.

With regards to the Christmas lights in the video, I used a digital pen. Creating a basic backdrop, I then came up with two different jpegs using spray painted circles. One red, the other green. Creating the flashing imagery wasn’t too difficult. All I did there was alternative both red and green backdrops at .30 second intervals. The most difficult thing was coming up with an idea for the video to match the tune.

This video is the first video I’ve post directly onto Facebook. This was somewhat of an experiment. I was interested in not only gauging the response, but to see if the video format changed the song. The song did change, the responses didn’t. For the former, I’m not sure if this is related to the medium, compression or size of the file. For the latter, a big thank you if you made the effort to listen to it and respond.

The song reflects a joyful longing. It’s the hope of THE Christmas which is to come. The second advent or in theology jargon the parousia of Christ,  where we are told Jesus Christ will once again stand before the World, present not just in Spirit, but in His physical adult person.

It also reflects a more immediate reality that pierces through God’s action in Jesus Christ. On that day we remember that in Jesus Christ, God not only kick-started a revolution, He led and continues to direct one. Jesus is God’s revolt against the disorder of the world.

‘We were once in darkness, in a kind of night, which was to be diminished by the growth of faith; that’s why, on the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the night begins to be encroached upon, and the day to grow longer. So, brothers and sisters, let us keep this day as a festival; not, like the unbelievers, because of that sun up there in the sky, but because of the one who made that sun.’
– Augustine, Sermon 190. 395 A.D

….sing unto the Lord a new song:

 

monk-with-back-drop

Alone.

The assembly lines stand abandoned.
.     Support stations silenced.

The floor is covered in bleak layers of ash.

The unbroken quiet, broken by drips of quickening sorrow.

This place was once full of sighs and hand-me-downs
.    Now even they’re all gone.

The walls still show signs of attendance.
Yet, no manner of violent remonstration,
.     rage or fomented frustration,
can remove the grey from this calloused remembrance.

.     Even if their inhabitants failed to provide subsistence
This ground held promise.
.     Now that’s all spent-slash-squandered.

The leftovers were nothing; nothing worth noting.

Like scattered mines,
.     Each empty barrel and bin are filled with charges of antecedent chagrins;
Shadows of a generation that never gave thought to the world of tomorrow.

Upwards the frame is shattered, its roof left mangled;
.      bright orange lines of rust stains run down what’s left of each pillar.
Tear-shaped lines of yesteryear move even the most thoughtless of listeners.

Then rising unnoticed, begins the slow ascent of the impossible and the peculiar.

Engravings marked by an outward light,
.             pierce through the silted darkness.

Then hands reach down and dust off,
.           grace-breathed Petroglyphs of the once familiar.

.


(©RL2016)