Thursday, August 25, 2011

praise and worship styles

"Cool! I'm a musician too. What do you mainly do?"

"I'm a worship leader for a church."

"Excellent. What style: Guitars 'n' Goatees or Slacks 'n' Keys?"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

greta, a year old

The other day, Catherine's sister Ellen took a bunch of great pictures of baby Greta (now just over a year old), in the courtyard of the chapel where we married. She's a talented photographer with a good eye for personality and telling detail. We're just thrilled with the results.

click on the pictures for more

Thursday, August 11, 2011

new shamu show, and free barry

Just got through doing the arrangements on a brand-new Shamu show for Sea World, and am getting started with the charts, to be recorded later this month.

It's their Halloween show, so you have to wait till October to see it. Meanwhile, it'll do to say I've really enjoyed putting it together. They had very definite ideas about what they wanted, but also gave me an alarming amount of latitude. They had songs they definitely wanted to include, songs they really wanted to include, songs they sort-of wanted to include, songs they felt they should include — but at the end of the day it was pretty much up to me to choose which ones to use and where they should go. (I omitted a tune that one of the producers loved, asterisked, and was pushing for; I've heard not one peep.)

On one whole segment of the show, I had near-complete artistic freedom, including the freedom to include some original music I composed just for this.

I'm celebrating a brief moment in my career where I have amazing amounts of artistic freedom. In several projects and gigs, I'm being hired by people who trust me to do what I do best. That's satisfying.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I was just talking with my sister-in-law Kathy about the fact that we'd both been married some time now: seven years for Catherine and me, eight for Paul and Kathy. Does it seem at all like the marriage is old and stale? Not one bit for either of us. Seven years is the legendary number for marriages going stale, and apparently that's backed up by some fact of our neurological makeup. But I must be neurologically different because I just don't feel it. It seems like we just got back from our honeymoon.

Maybe that's because of my approach toward commitments — and commitment. I was also direly warned about what a "wake-up call" having a kid would be. But I must've already been awake. Certainly it's a commitment; certainly some facts of my daily existence have changed, just as they did with marriage. But it's a joy, not a drag. This puts me in mind of a ringing paragraph by G. K. Chesterton, from his book The Defendant (here's the full text), in which he defends pulp fiction, slang, patriotism, publicity, and other unpopular things, including vows.

‎The revolt against vows has been carried in our day even to the extent of a revolt against the typical vow of marriage. It is most amusing to listen to the opponents of marriage on this subject. They appear to imagine that the ideal of constancy was a yoke mysteriously imposed on mankind by the devil, instead of being, as it is, a yoke consistently imposed by all lovers on themselves. They have invented a phrase, a phrase that is a black and white contradiction in two words — 'free-love' — as if a lover ever had been, or ever could be, free. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word. Modern sages offer to the lover, with an ill-flavoured grin, the largest liberties and the fullest irresponsibility; but they do not respect him as the old Church respected him; they do not write his oath upon the heavens, as the record of his highest moment. They give him every liberty except the liberty to sell his liberty, which is the only one that he wants.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

prayer and water

Today is the umpteenth day of over a hundred-and-five here in Texas. Lots of folks are saying that they are praying for rain, and are suggesting that we all pray for rain.

Hmmm. What should my prayer be? How about this: "Dear God, I have no intention of moving away from Texas, which has had this kind of weather since before my ancestors decided to live here. So, since I've decided to live here, could You please change the weather patterns of the North American continent to suit me? Thank you." oops: "In Jesus' name, Amen."

Of course, some folks claim that it's not just weather patterns but rather God's judgment. I tend to agree insofar as gravity is God's judgment for jumping off a building. Similarly, droughts and heat are His judgment for deciding to live where there are droughts and heat.

The literature for The Response, the massive stadium festival in which Rick Perry takes the term "grandstanding" literally, mentions this weather, as well as tornados and (it hasn't been too too long) Hurricane Katrina, as further evidence of God's judgment. Again, I might agree that Katrina is God's judgment for building a city in the glorious Mississippi River delta, untouched for millenia.

If, however, I were to see such things as a sign that America is headed the wrong direction, I suppose I'd consult the Scripture — say, the book of Amos — where I could read the following call for water from a different source:
I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.... Instead let justice roll down like waters."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Doxology package now available

I've had a few requests recently for music for my setting of the Doxology from a couple of years back.

So I finally shaped up this package: a high-quality mp3 of the song, a concise and professional lead sheet, a full sheet-music score with piano accompaniment and optional harmony for backup singers or choir, and an easy-to-read bulletin insert for congregations.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

guiding spirit

Do you ever think about Guido of Arezzo?

Of course you do, and so do I. He's the guy who invented musical notation. Now just sit down on that fact for an afternoon: before him, people just had to memorize music, passed down from person to person. It took a lifetime to properly learn all the songs of the church year, and even then there were variations that separated region from region. Then old Guido came along and, with a simple graph — up-and-down is pitch, left-to-right is time — it all changed.

Suddenly we can look at a song that's been unsung for a thousand years and know how to sing it. We can express some of our most abstract ideas so successfully that people miles or centuries from us will hear something very much like what we intended. It's just amazing, and it didn't arise from the soil like language did. It didn't come from generations upon generations of gathered knowledge like cooking did. It came from Guido.