Posts Tagged ‘Inspirational Sheet Music’

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…)

Clarification Of Intent

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

WFM-LogoNote: The following is my response to a recent customer question.  Occasionally we print these to clarify to all what might be otherwise misunderstood.  The question from customer was, “Why can’t the sampled songs on your website be full songs instead of only part of the song?” The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Bart,

Your letter came to me this morning from our customer service department.  I’ve asked that these kinds of responses come to me occasionally so that I could help handle them and help clarify confusions.

As CEO of Watchfire Music and one of its composers I would love that you could hear a full sample of my music on the site, but unfortunately we, as well as the rest of the industry, have learned that if we were to put the full sample on the site, then three generations of people would then steal such and never actually purchase it.

Unfortunately I have to eat.  I’m working on overcoming that limitation in life, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.  As it is, we live in a world where now much of what we create as musicians and composers is either free or stolen because of file sharing and hacking.

Your short note came across to all of us here as critical.  We pride ourselves in our giving.  We sell songs that take tens of thousands of dollars to create for 99 cents in a world where music is now even becoming “free” — thereby reducing our much loved occupations to the level of hobbies.

I guess you got me on my soap box here, but when I come across moments like this of such misunderstanding, it usually, these days, puts me right back on that box.

We do offer every possible tool we can think of to help you discover and understand our music.  Perhaps you might rethink this in terms of going to the movies.  Let’s say they were forced to let you see the movie for free and then, if you saw the whole thing and liked it, then, and only then, you would have to pay for it.

It’s a good analogy. (more…)

Thoughts On “Today”

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

“Thoughts On ‘Today’” is the last of a 12 part series of posts reflecting on the songs of Julia Wade’s CD, Solos, with lyrics from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and Music by Peter Link.

The most important books I’ve read over the last couple of decades besides the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy are, without a doubt, The Power of Now and The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.  In his The Power of Now, Mr. Tolle sets forth reasoning on living in the nowness of life in such a compelling manner that it changed my life, changed the way I thought and acted, and along the way changed the way I look at life.  I can easily say that it brought to me a way of living that made me a much happier man and one who is much freer of two dramatic issues that haunt human beings daily – regret and fear.

Basically, I learned and understood that regret is living moment to moment in the past and that fear is living moment to moment in the future and that both are totally wrong choices and complete mistakes.  I had a preface to this understanding through the reading and study of Science and Health.   Mrs. Eddy talks about living in the now and deals with it several places in her book.  What took me over the top in my thinking in The Power of Now is that Tolle dedicates his entire book to the concept.

Mrs. Eddy, however, begins her book with these words that set forth the speculation that living totally in the now of life is the only way to practice life when she writes,

“To those leaning
on the sustaining infinite,
today is big with blessings.”

Though she does not use the word “now” she clearly means it.  This short statement of truth is packed with portent and has been a mantra for me for six decades.  The understanding of the truths contained therein has righted many a day for me that got off the track.

Lean on the infinite and you will be blessed.  Right now. Get out of the past and keep your thought out of the future and the blessings will flow.

So when I began this great adventure of writing songs from Mrs. Eddy’s iconic prose statements, it seemed only natural to start at the beginning with one that had played such an important part of my life. (more…)

Thoughts On “Footsteps of Truth”

Friday, May 11th, 2012

“Thoughts On ‘Footsteps of Truth’” is one of a 12 part series of posts reflecting on the songs of Julia Wade’s CD, Solos, with lyrics from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and Music by Peter Link.

We walk in the footsteps of Truth and Love
by following the example of our Master
in the understanding
of divine metaphysics.

To me, this song is about following – following the example of our Master.  The sixth and last tenet of Christian Science states, “And we solemnly promise to watch and pray for that mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus …” Most Christian Scientists use this tenet as a daily prayer.

It’s quite a statement, quite a promise.  I’ll have to admit that I’ve broken this solemn promise far too many times.  If ya’ think about it, it’s a lot to live up to.  It’s a promise to follow in his footsteps, to follow his example.

On the surface, this song often strikes me as the simplest lyric of the 12 songs, but upon further consideration, it may be the strongest statement of commitment.

We first acknowledge that certain truths are absolute.  Then we do all we can to move in the direction of those truths.

Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love
be it song, sermon, or Science

blesses the human family
with crumbs of comfort
from Christ’s table,
feeding the hungry
and giving living waters
giving living waters
to the thirsty.

Two wondrous metaphors used throughout the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy are “light” and “water”.  Both represent inspiration passing from God to mankind.  In a previous post entitled, “Thoughts On Divine Love” I found myself using the water image endlessly pouring forth from the fountain to describe God’s Love filling our souls.

Here Mrs. Eddy illuminates the act of inspiration with the giving of living waters to the thirsty.  It is Julia’s and my great hope that these songs will, on some levels, fulfill Mrs. Eddy’s proclamation of “… be it song, sermon, or Scienceblesses the human family …

Going forth, after we have committed daily to following in the Master’s footsteps, we must stay to the course.

One’s aim,
a point beyond faith,
should be to find
the footsteps of Truth,
the way to health and holiness.

And what rewards!  Health and holiness.  Perhaps the two most important necessities of the human experience.  Why else are we here, but to demonstrate these two concepts?  All other good must follow these two ideas. (more…)

Thoughts On “Divine Love”

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

“Thoughts On ‘Divine Love’” is one of a 12 part series of posts reflecting on the songs of Julia Wade’s CD, Solos, with lyrics from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and Music by Peter Link.

Here is a song that was as natural to write as the act of breathing.  It starts at the end really.  The final words of the song were the first words I chose.

The vital part,
the heart and soul of Christian Science,
is Love.

Mary Baker Eddy probably uses this word as a synonym for God in her writings more than any other concept.  And who’s to argue with that?

Love is the liberator.
No power can withstand divine Love.

Say it again …

Love is the liberator.
No power can withstand divine Love.

In my life this is an absolute.  Feeling stressful?  Love more?  Have relationship problems?  Love more.  Struggling with disease or injury?  Love more.  Broke?  Love more.

When in doubt, love more.

Wait patiently
for divine Love to move
to move upon the waters
of mortal mind,
and form the perfect concept.

You’re not waiting for God to get to work, you know.  What we wait for is for our own consciousness to fill with love.  God is instant.  Love is instant.  It is mortal mind or ego that we wait for.  The process sometimes takes time because it is consciousness that needs to change, not God, not Love.

Love inspires,
illumines, designates,
and leads the way.

It is Love that leads the way, illuminating the roads we travel with God’s light so that we may see the errors of our ways and eradicate those mistakes.  It is Love that inspires us to get to work, to heal, to forgive, to a change of base in consciousness so that healing may take its natural, not miraculous, course.

God is Love.
Can we ask Him to be more? (more…)

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