Archives For Music

This week I reworked a tune I had put together a few weeks back, but didn’t post because I didn’t feel that was up to standard.

As the creative process goes, that song became this. Little resembling what I had originally started with.

Like a couple of the songs I’ve done recently, this one deliberately has no drums. Instead I worked out a progression on a synth in garage band and fine tuned that to reflect a beat.

The piano is noteworthy. I’m adding it more and more, examining where it might fit better than a lead riff on guitar does. In this song, I was unsure of keeping the lead because it seemed, to me anyway, to cloud the song, but I’ve kept it in to add colour; something it does well enough.

In mixing the tracks I decided to reduce the volume of the lead and add reverb to it in order to gain a sense of distance. The “whale sounds” are easy enough to do. On an electric guitar, just play a note with the volume turned down, hold the note, slowly increase and then decrease the volume.

If there is anything I could improve on this, it would be the rhythm and the bridge.

The end result is a multi-layered mix or notes that pull together to paint a picture worth reflecting on.

In ‘A Confession’, Leo Tolstoy, post-atheism, talks about a dream where he found himself slipping from ropes that were suspending him over an abyss. In time he began to look up & found comfort; freedom from his anxiety and the fear of falling. It was from here that he began to slowly realise that the ropes were gone and he was in fact being held firmly over the abyss. Not long after this he heard the words, “see that you remember.” Then woke up.

A nation and age apart, this is echoed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words:

‘Grace is that which holds humanity over the abyss of nothingness.’ (DBW3)[i]

This song seeks to reflect that.

 


Source:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D. Creation & Fall, DBW Vol.3

Further note: Karl Barth writes: ‘yet in spite [of the desire to escape the command of God, and thus give ourselves up to destruction] we are not allowed to fall, but are upheld and carried above the yawning abyss…’ (CD. The Purpose of Divine Judgment, 2/2 p.765 Hendrickson Pub.)

Tolstoy also speaks of this in his book ‘Confessions’.

Music and image are mine.

The process for this weeks creative offering was fairly simple. I created the bass line, sequenced the drums, added keys and then lead guitar. I approached this a little differently by mixing the bass, drums and keys during the week, then layering the guitar on top of that a little later on.

Upside: it wasn’t as much work.

Downside: I couldn’t control the volume of the keys.

So, the high end sound of the keys is a little too dense for my liking. Overall, though, I’m pleased with the outcome.

Inspiration was drawn from Mark 7:7-11, ESV and the old Christian adage, ‘Faith Seeks Understanding.’

 

 

 

 


(RL2016)

More experimenting with a piano, layered over guitar tracks. What makes this complete track unique is the absence of drums. Like my previous instrumental, my aim was simplicity.

Translated, kyrie eleison is an old Christian prayer associated with liturgical worship and Jewish prayer, which means: Lord, Have Mercy. At once and the same time, it’s a trusting and humble call, full of the joy of expectation at the coming of God’s promised response.

‘Jesus told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home-made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Luke 18:9-14 (The Message (MSG)

May we, in our own hearts, heed the zeal of the tax collector and a stand guard against the self-righteous fanaticism of the Pharisee.


Sidenote: Just a reminder about sound quality. At the moment, I’m only work with audacity; a free mixing software, my laptop, an amp, an app and my guitar.

Stand out quotes vary. Some grab us and cause us to say, “ah!” Then others come along and burn out as quickly as they were lit. Then there’s the ones which latch on to us. It gnaws at us and doesn’t let go.

Quotes like these have longevity. Often, they stand alone outside their context. Holding meaning without being drawn into the abstract; where the quote loses meaning, or worse, has it’s meaning misrepresented.

Writing these kinds of quotes down is always a good thing to do. They tend to be words in season or word given for a season to come. Words that aren’t kept in order to win arguments, but words encountered that sow deep encouragement. Words that change us. Words that build us. Words that multiply life and the significance of it.

Words exemplified by John Bunyan,

 

‘Do you the substance of my matter see.
Put by the curtains, look within my veil;
Turn up my metaphors, and do not fail:
There if you seek them such things to find,
As will be helpful to an honest mind.’

 

– (Pilgrims Progress, The Conclusion)

 

 


Mist 1 RL2016River Mist header 1

Mist 2

Mist 3

Mist 4

 

Earlier this week, while doing an errand, we took a detour to check out some early morning fog lifting off the river. Spectacular doesn’t sum up the experience of watching the sun rise into this. As it’s light moved across the water, the mist shifted. Had we arrived earlier the fog would’ve been to thick to capture it.

Good inspiration for a song.

This weeks features include drums, classic organ, the POD HD400 and the Ibanez. I had layered a few other bits with a Wah rhythm, for more of a funk feel, but decided to keep it as simple as possible because of how much the layer of guitar work was doing already. I was also keen to have the bass guitar remain as clear as possible.

 

 


Music and images are my own.

 

One of my theology teachers once told me that his lecturer would kick start their history class by singing an old hymn.

He was so impressed by it, that he borrowed the idea. Consequently, our history lessons began the same way.

And as one does, I figured we could do the same. Singing just the lyrics.

The song choice wasn’t hard. ‘Be Thou My Vision’ has been on the top of my list since the late 90’s. Where I encountered an appreciation for it from my boss, an 84 year old Scottish lady named Irene, who also happened to like some of the more modern heavier stuff I’d recommend to her. Our kids also like the song, so I decided to spend a few hours putting together my own version of it.

As a song, the melody lends itself to almost any beat. As a prayer, it stands alone in its category.

LYRICS

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I, Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Be Thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight,
Be Thou my armor and be Thou my might.
Thou my soul shelter, and Thou my high tower,
Raise Thou me heavenwards, oh power of my power.

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou are

High King of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision O Ruler of all [i]

 


[i] Circa. 8th Century, author unknown. Trans. Mary Byrne, 1905; Eleanor Hull, 1912

Arrangement and image are mine.

The Empty Side of Grief

February 19, 2016 — Leave a comment

Pic 12

Dynamic is the melody;

a bruised life;

frustrated forgiveness –

the empty side of grief.

The melody reaches for a resolution.

Like dry tears that lock up a grieving heart.

The melody is chained.

It struggles to flow;

to find wings beyond itself;

to be found by the enigmatic glow.

By beat and roar heaved towards foe,

the voice resolves,

its freedom aided by the simplest groan.

Answered by way of the smallest tone.

By grace it slows,

and

by these commanding whispers,

it soars above its woe.

‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.’
– (Paul, Romans, 8:26)


(RL2016)

Words and music are my own.