Posts Tagged ‘digital sheet music’

On Lyric Changes For Your Church Services

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Recently a gentleman commented to our FB Solo Thoughts Group with a statement that we hear all too often.  In essence, he stated that when he would choose songs to sing in church and the lyrics in places were inappropriate for his service, he would simply rewrite those lyrics to fit.

Julia Wade, our Director of Digital Sheet Music, brought the comment to me for a “yet again” discussion that was now becoming far too repetitive.

She had written him back the following:

Thanks so much for your contributions to the conversations here in this group!

With respect to changing lyrics, you bring up a relatively constant issue that has come up again and again over the years. It was interesting to me that your comment came on the heels of an hour-long conversation with a soloist/music committee chairperson who called recently to discuss the changing of lyrics for a composer’s work represented on WFM.

That conversation, combined with your comment, showed me one more time that this issue is a timely issue. So, I asked my partner, Peter Link, who is a successful and experienced composer, to give a definitive statement on this subject.

Since this topic of changing lyrics is a new subject, Peter has posted his response to all concerned in a new conversation thread.

Here is his answer:

On Lyric Changes For Your Church Services

One does not even consider rewriting Shakespeare to fit their needs. No one would ever consider taking someone’s movie and adding their own scenes to it to make it “better.” I can’t imagine anyone buying a Picasso and bringing it home and adding their own brush strokes to the work to “improve” it. Would anyone ever rewrite the fourth chapter of a Hemingway novel to better the writing?

Perhaps one could get away with doing these things in private, but never in public.

These works of art belong to the artists who created them and are sacrosanct and inviolable to the original artist who created them whether or not the original artist is a master of his/her work or a beginner.  Their “intellectual property” is clearly protected by copywriter law.  So, consequently, changing someone’s lyrics or music to “better fit” one’s needs is not only illegal, but also immoral.  Simply put, their work is not yours to change, whatever your philosophy.

Rather, we would strongly suggest, if the song’s lyrics do not fit your message, go back to your research work and find another song that does.

If your neighbor’s new car is blue, yet you wish it were red, you may not repaint it to your satisfaction.  It belongs to them.  There is a principle here that really needs a deeper understanding by many, it seems.

In essence, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Respectfully submitted,

Peter Link

CEO & Creative Director

Watchfire Music

Nuff said.



Friday, September 22nd, 2017

All the water there will be,

Already is …

“The very same water

That is wetting your lips

May have flowed through the streets

Down in New Orleans

Or flowed down the cheeks

And spilled upon the piano keys

As the brilliant Tchaikovsky sat

And wrote his Pathétique.


“Did ja’ know that

Here on this rock

As we journey through time

We live by the grace of water”

With all the water on this planet, who ever thought we’d run out?  They’re certainly not worried about running out in Houston.

And yet water is their biggest problem.  For some it’s too much; for some, too little.  For most, what there is, is unusable – too salty, too chemical, too dirty.  And for me, well, I’m told I should drink more of it.

“The very same water in the apple you eat

May have fallen as rain

Half-way ’round the world          

Or could have been used

A hundred million years ago

By a mighty mama brontosaur

To bathe her baby girl”

“Water”, a song from our concert, “Is Anybody Listening?” is sung by a trio of sterling singers, Freedom Bremner, Brian Collazo and Jonathan Singletary on our new CD just out.

If you’re listening, you’ll find it much worth the listen.

“Yes the very same water

That grows the cocoa bean

And brings the sweet taste of chocolate

To the hungry world

May be the mystery

That carries forth the seed of life

As it brings to pass the life and times

That spring from you and me”

Water – it’s the stuff of life.

“One part oxygen

And two parts hydrogen

Put ‘em both together an’ whadda you got


Clear and cool

Pure water”


“Water” – Music and Lyrics by Peter Link











A Company In Evolution

Monday, July 15th, 2013

WFM-LogoChanging times …

We’re finally seeing the evolution of Watchfire Music along with Watchfire New Media to a much broader base.  First, a mere eight years ago, we were an Inspirational record company and on-line store selling just recorded music.  Then, six years ago, as the recording industry began to fail and recorded music began to be available across the boards as free music, we opened our Digital Sheet Music division under the watchful eye and determination of our president, Julia Wade.

This enabled us to stay alive through the early start-up years and actually moved us to a break-even company and out of the start-up realm in the next three years as we signed over a hundred new Inspirational composers.  We also purchased Solo Thoughts, a powerful resource for church soloists and musicians, and greatly improved its reach and user-ability.

In the last two years WFM has continued to grow steadily as more and more trusting and loyal customers found our Inspirational music products and purchased them on line.

In that time too, we created other popular services with which to share our music – WFM Radio, WFM on SoundCloud, the WFM Inspirational Music Library for Film, Television and Advertising, Watchfire Music’s popular series of Listening Room concerts here in NYC, a Video Library featuring not only our own artists, but also, The Best Of The Web, and The WFM Learning Lab – a most successful series of music classes taught both here in NYC but also on-line and on SKYPE.

Last January many of you spoke.  We saw a need and went to work fulfilling that need creating Watchfire New Media – a new division of WFM helping individuals, artists, start-ups, entrepreneurs, churches, Inspirational leaders and small businesses develop their public identities and achieve their Internet marketing goals.

This need turns out to be even greater than anticipated and so we are working harder than ever, hiring new staffing, moving our entire site of over 3000 pages selling over 11,000 individual items to now an independent server and literally working with a terrific staff of people in virtual offices around the world.  Just this last week WNM received the Caron “Unsung Heroes Award” for our work on the Sober St. Patrick’s Day® event this past year in NYC and internationally.

We even have a new presence on a weekly Inspirational radio program in Australia.  In the spring of 2014 we are planning a Concert Tour of Africa, Europe and hopefully South America for best-selling artist, Julia Wade.

We celebrate all this in the month of June with the release of Julia’s new CD, Deep Waters, an Inspirational Suite for orchestra and voice.  This album comes complete with a free downloadable Digi-Book and accompanying digital sheet music of all the songs (optional).

Are we exhausted from all this?  No, actually we’re most stimulated and often feel like we’re just gettin’ started.  It’s a dream realized – realized because you, our customers and friends hung in there with us, saw us through some lean times, and supported the idea of Inspirational music.

We are so grateful – boy are we ever!  It’s clear to us that Watchfire Music is simply a right idea.


Deep Waters – Part 5

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Sunset-Sailing-1024x768The original idea of Deep Waters was to do the surrounding instrumental orchestrations with full orchestra and then keep the songs very simple so as to illuminate the lyric and the magical voice of Julia Wade.  Keeping the accompaniment of the songs to the minimum of a piano, a piano with simple synth or string pad, or Fender Rhodes keyboard would be a real help to soloists around the world who might be interested in singing some of the songs as well.

But as I worked with Julia and developed two of the songs it became apparent to me that the two particular songs wanted further orchestration.  The sum total of our choices did enhance the entire project, still keeping the songs simple in their approach, but making all movements more of a total piece.

We also decided to tie everything together – instrumental cross-fading into song and song cross-fading back into next instrumental to make the Suite a more unified whole.

Now one can sit down and listen to the entire CD as one continuous piece of music.  We will, however, program song markers into the CD so that one might be able to easily find and play just one song or another if they so desire.

The instrumental sections, for me, were especially fun for me to work with the orchestra and realize the ideas in my head and soul and finally hear them played so beautifully.  The string section was rich even beyond my imagination and many of the passages, to this day, fill my brain with delight and awe at the sound of these amazing instruments and players.

Strings – violins, violas, cellos and double basses – are the most wondrous instruments and have the sonic ability to go to extraordinary places in sound and emotion.  I think I could spend a lifetime writing for them and never get bored or repeat myself.

Though I think of the last movement as an instrumental, it really is a coming together of all involved including Julia’s beautiful and haunting peaceful farewell and epilogue as we go sailing off into the sunset.  Smooth Sailing a simple and quiet dénouement of peaceful satisfaction that captures, for me, the quietude I feel when life is so good, I am closest to being the essence of who I am, and closest to God.

We have two or three other of these Suites in the planning as I write and hope to bring them to you over the next two years.  It’s a form that I have quite enjoyed and works very well, at this point, for both Julia and me.

We’re also developing them as performance pieces with video enhancements to present both with live orchestra and/or tracks.  The visuals will be created by our new video designers and cinematographers here at Watchfire Music and Julia will be presenting the first of these, Deep Waters, hopefully starting in the fall of 2013 as she begins her international tour that we are presently booking – the U.S., Africa, Europe and South America.

If you’re interested in bringing Julia’s concert attraction to your city, please get in touch with us at: or contact us through the Coments on this Blog site.

In the meantime, we wish you smooth sailing.smooth-sailing

Deep Waters – Part 4

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

LIGHTHOUSE---SMOOTH-SAILINGThe third song of this trilogy, A Still Small Voice, is from First Kings in the Bible.  I wrote the song many years ago for an Off-Broadway musical that I wrote and directed called The River that played both in New York City and at the Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors Summer Festival in the early 1980s.  It was a show-stopping ballad that referenced the much loved Bible verses, “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

The song was sung by two wondrous African-American vocalists (one at Lincoln Center/the other in the Off-Broadway production) — both who added gorgeous embellishments to the melody in their inimitable Gospel style.

Though I loved what they each brought to the song, I always felt that the song could stand on its own and needed to have that chance in its life.

So it was an easy call to dig it out, dust it off and hand it over to Ms Wade to perform on this new CD, Deep Waters. 

It’s a song about listening … listening for the voice of God whispering through the silence.  It’s a song about stillness and the inner voice that comes to us with messages of truth – if we can just quiet down the ego, or mortal mind, enough to listen through the silence.

We recorded the song just last week.  Julia brought all that I knew she would to the song and more.  The session was so delicate, so quiet, that I was most grateful for our super quiet vocal booth we have here in our studio in NYC.  No noises from the outside, no subway rumbles, no sirens, no air conditioner noise – just the silence of a quiet mind.

Singing pianissimo is not an easy endeavor.  It requires great energy.  One wouldn’t think that, but it is oh so true.  Perhaps it requires even more focused energy than a soaring ballad.  It requires a perfect kind of control that few singers have at that amplitude level.  It took us four hours to record the song to get the close-mic techniques practiced and mastered.  We had to work to even diminish the natural mouth noise of opening and shutting the lips to keep the recording clean and free from any sound that would get in the way of the message and the performance.

This was all accomplished in a masterly fashion by Julia who added, on top of it all, a beautiful and inspired performance of the song itself.  The song now lives, once again, but in its original intention and original simplicity of melody. (more…)

Deep Waters – Part 3

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

B&W-WOMAN-FLOATINGOut Of The Depths, the second song of the Deep Waters trilogy, is drawn from Psalm 130.  I’ve always known that I would write this song one day, but I also knew that I should wait – wait until I was older and hopefully wiser – perhaps lived more.  To a certain sense I do believe that if one is going to write about the depths of anything, it’s probably wise to have experienced them.

I’ve had a pretty smooth ride through life.  Little war, little tragedy, no poverty, health.  So when it came to speaking about my depths I finally realized that our depths are pretty relative.  I’ve felt the pain of lost love, I lost over a hundred friends during the decades of the AIDS epidemic, and I’ve been healed of some relatively scary problems in the course of my life.  So the operative word here is probably “relative”.  Your depths may be deeper than mine, but my depths have been deep enough to experience them and understand their meaning in my life.

As a writer I like movement in my work.  I desire to move the listener from A to B to C during the course of the song – not just state a principle, but tell the story of how one moves from Point A to Point B and so on.  I like the drama of a testimony.  I like the story of the struggle and believe that it makes the inspirational revelation that much more powerful if we understand the struggle.  I want to experience the process of healing – not just the celebration.

Perhaps this all comes from my years working in the Broadway theater and learning the principles and powers of drama.  I like to take you on a ride and I deeply believe in struggle, light, climax and satisfaction.

So diving into Psalm 130 was not taken lightly by either me or Julia Wade, the vocalist on the song.  We knew it had to be an in-depth experience to portray the powers and drama of this rich Psalm of David’s.

This particular Psalm is called “A Song of Ascents.”  Though I knew what “ascent” meant, I looked it up anyway and the definition nailed the song for me.  “Ascent: a movement upward, a rising, ascension”

Out Of The Depths isn’t just a lament, but must be, of nature, and must express the rising out of these depths. (more…)

Deep Waters – Part 2

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

ORANGE-MORNINGWhy is it that the Psalms are so intriguing to composers?  Simple enough.  Because they are lyrics to begin with.  That old King David, he knew what he was doing.  Probably no other book of the Bible has been so worked over by composers around the world and down through the ages.

Finding new material to approach is not easy.  There are tens of thousands of songs written from the Psalms of David.  One could say that he’s the most published lyricist in the history of the world.  I wish I had his ASCAP royalties – except that all of his lyrics are now and always have been in the public domain – that is, that they are free to use for anyone brave enough to tackle such classic literature.

So coming upon this verse in Psalm 107 was a most pleasant surprise to me.  It just sort of jumped up and called out, “Hey Pete!  Look here!  I’m a song!”

It was the line, “They that go down to the sea in ships” that did it.  I don’t know why, but it just had a ring to it, a rhythm, perhaps.  It immediately evoked a story.  I wanted to read on and find out what happened to them.  Well it turns out that they “do business in great waters.”  Now there’s an unexpected Biblical line.  They “do business?”  It sounded so modern.  Sort of like saying, “Hey do you wanna do lunch?”  :o)

Well, I was hooked.  I decided to read on and on and it turned out that David had a real point to it all and a most powerful message to tell.  It launched the whole idea of Deep Waters – the struggle we all have finding our way out of the materiality of day to day living, the anticipation of new breath, of smoother seas, of open air, of calm and of peace in our lives.

I much enjoyed writing around the idea – taking actual ideas and quotes directly from Psalm 107 and adding my own lyrical thoughts to the concept.  The endeavor of composition gave me a long weekend of concentrated work where I hardly slept, never got tired, never weakened, and found a kind of classical/folk approach to the moment.  I wrote with Julia’s voice in mind, but also with the reverence of a church solo foremost in thought.

The song, They That Go Down To The Sea In Ships, is our first song on the album – not the first music you will hear, but the first song.  It sets the tone of the adventure.

We’ll release the CD in late May of 2013, but here’s a preview of the lyric: (more…)

“I’d Like To Improve Your Music”

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

sheet-music-Recently I received a letter from a nice church person who suggested that he’d “like to make some improvements” to one of the settings of an arrangement I did for a Julia Wade CD that eventually ended up as WFM digital sheet music.  He even suggested that he had, in fact, already made these changes and performed them in a church service.

Both I and my staff were a bit taken aback by this suggestion, but totally understood that this person had it well in mind that they were doing a good thing and probably that I would be most happy to address his fixes of my composition.

There followed a series of letters back and forth in which I tried mightily to explain the awkwardness and actual legalities of the request.  In retrospect, since this sort of thing has happened several times previous to this time, I have decided to reprint portions of my attempt at explaining the “facts of life and music” to this dear man who only had it in his heart to “improve” or “better” my composition.  In the following, the names are changed to protect the innocent.

And so I wrote:

“Oddly, I wear two hats here – one as Creative Director of WFM and the other as Arranger of the work in question.  I’m going to try to approach this moment with my Creative Director hat on as much as possible. 

First, music is an interesting medium.  There are rules, and rules to be broken.  There are tastes and taste changers.  There are styles and evolutions of style.  And then there are the people, the audience, the listeners – each with their own particular tastes, and responses to genres (some people like Country music; some don’t.).  One thing I’ve learned for sure is that “ya’ can’t please all the people all the time.”  That said, we here at WFM were a bit taken aback at your suggestion to “do some improvements to the There Is A Balm In Gilead setting.” 

Let me also mention that it’s not the first time we’ve had to deal with these kinds of good intentions.  In fact, it comes up all too often and if you are a reader of my blog you would know that I do address the legalities of these kinds of good intentions from time to time.

The more concerning part of this is “We used it recently, and I thought of some ways to enrich the connective/transitional material and unify it.” This implies that you have already done this and performed it with the changes in your church.  If I am reading this implication wrongly, I apologize.

One of our staffers brought forth this metaphor in a staff meeting discussion: “It’s as if a teacher decided to rewrite sections of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms” before she read the novel to her class.”

Now I’m not putting myself at all on the mastery level of an Ernest Hemingway, but the point here is that he is a published author whose work is intellectual property governed by U.S. Copyright laws and international agreements.  It cannot be changed.  Not one word; not one comma.  No one would try to rewrite or have the right to rewrite Hemingway or any other published author, for that matter. (more…)

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