Posts Tagged ‘sheet music’

Thoughts On “Dominion”

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

“Thoughts On ‘Dominion’” 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.

“The enslavement of man is not legitimate.” — Mary Baker Eddy

The American Civil War was fought over just this issue between the years of 1861 and 1865.  Soon after this time period Mary Baker Eddy was writing her best-selling and thought-changing book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and putting down her own thoughts on slavery

Wikipedia states, “After four years of warfare, mostly within the Southern states, the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation. (The slavery) Issues that led to war were partially resolved in the Reconstruction Era that followed, though others remained unresolved.”

So this issue, which had so polarized the mindset of a nation so that brother fought brother was clearly on the forefront of people’s thought.

She continues…

It will cease when man enters
into his heritage of freedom,
God-given dominion …

Though the slaves had been freed, at the time, the issues of slavery would certainly not have been solved or even agreed upon for that matter.  By the end of the war our country would have still been polarized in its thinking as Southern and some Northern farmers were forced to give up their free work force and begin again.

So Mrs. Eddy wrote of her time and took her stand on not only this national issue, but also went a giant step further in the finishing of this iconic sentence.

over the material senses.

Dominion over not just civil enslavement, but … over the material senses!

Though slavery had been abolished, she knew that the enslavement of man was far from being over until man was and is able to free himself from the chains of materialism. (more…)

Victory! – New Easter Song

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

“Thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory
through Jesus Christ
our Lord.”

We begin with a joyful celebration of gratitude from First Corinthians.  It is our victory, this rising from the dead.  It is Jesus’ victory over the cross that he bore, but ultimately it is mankind’s victory over the false belief of death.  The way-shower illuminated the truth of life for all mankind and we celebrate on this day.

…a sad supper
taken at the close of day,
in the twilight of a glorious career
with shadows fast falling around;
and this supper closed forever
Jesus’ ritualism
or concessions to matter.

We flash back to probably the most famous meal in the history of mankind where the Master said his goodbyes, not only to his followers, but also to his own illusion of life in the mortal state.  The music turns melancholy befitting the moment.  Mary Baker Eddy’s text from her book Science And Health beautifully sets the tone for the evening of farewells.

She continues…
The final demonstration
of the truth which Jesus taught,
and for which he was crucified,
opened a new era for the world.

No one knew it at the time, but the world had changed.  Now death was no longer the ultimate end to life, but we had an eternal future.  The most feared experience of life, the most eluded event of life on Planet Earth had suddenly become a lie and an event that was simply a transition, not the end.  And so we celebrate this wondrous fact.

“Thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory
through Jesus Christ
our Lord.”

Then Mrs. Eddy continues again…
Glory be to God,
and peace to the struggling hearts!

Christ hath rolled away the stone
from the door of human hope and faith,
and through the revelation
and demonstration of life in God…

hath elevated them
to possible at-one-ment…

Yes, the stone was the door that was opened and let in the light, the illumination of the truth that death is not real, and is a lie in life.  The revelation first came to Mary and then to Jesus’ disciples as they struggled to accept the concept of this new idea.  The music becomes like a child skipping down the lane lost in the energies and wonder of life.  As each of us accepts this revelation, we become at one with a new mankind, a new spirituality where the old inevitable no longer exists.

And so we proclaim through Mrs. Eddy’s words…
We acknowledge
that the crucifixion of Jesus
and his resurrection
served to uplift faith
to understand eternal Life,
even the allness of Soul, Spirit,
and the nothingness of matter.

Our Master
fully and finally
Divine Science
in his victory over death and the grave.

Here is the spiritual fact set forth.  Here is the meaning of Easter.  Here is the cause for celebration set purposefully in the woodwinds of the orchestra – simply, straight forward, matter of fact.  And so, once again we must celebrate.

“Thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory
through Jesus Christ
our Lord.”

Then once again Mrs. Eddy reminds us…
The periods of spiritual ascension
are the days and seasons of Mind’s creation,
in which beauty, sublimity,
purity, and holiness —
yea, the divine nature —
appear in man and the universe
never to disappear.

No, there was not just one ascension, only one miracle.  Instead, this was a new world being illuminated for all of us that choose to live it.  This is not an old story retold through the centuries, but a present possibility today.  Now is a period of spiritual ascension.  These are the days and seasons of Mind’s creation.  I choose to walk in this light.  Will you walk with me?  I choose to live in the divine nature.  This doesn’t make me better than anybody else; it is just a choice I choose to make.  I choose to live in the new world where death has no reality.  I choose life instead.  I celebrate this on this day of Easter and every day.

And the pipe organ begins to peel the paint from the walls of the old church and the orchestra fills the rooms of Mind and the timpani and cymbals crash through the barriers of human existence.

“Thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory
through Jesus Christ
our Lord.”

This new song, with lyrics from the prose text of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible, and music by yours truly, will debut to the world Easter Morning broadcast via the Internet from Boston’s First Church of Christ, Scientist.  Sung by their soloist, Julia Wade, and played on its huge and wondrous 4 manual pipe organ by Bryan Ashley, it will also be released on Julia’s new CD, Solos, in early May of 2012.  The CD version will accompany Julia with pipe organ and full orchestra.

Easter is only and ultimately about the resurrection.  The rest of the story is the old picture.  We welcome in the new!

The Decline of Lyrical Craftsmanship – Part 4

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Note: If you have not read my previous three posts, “The Decline of Lyrical Craftsmanship – Part 1 2 & 3” first, I strongly suggest that you do that now, if possible.

So here’s where we left off at the end of Part 3:

I also had to throw out any notions I might have had about scanning verses simply because I could not change anything.  This proved to be the most difficult of obstacles and at times left me wondering if I wasn’t simply barking up the wrong tree.  To be continued…

As discussed in Part 1 of this amazing tale, scanning (the ability to match perfectly the word rhythms and accents from verse to verse to keep the repetition of the melody intact) is a crucial part of good lyric writing.  Without perfect scanning one loses his melody in a confusion of listener choices.

Writing from prose that offers me no possibility to change words, edit words, or move words around in a sentence, made good scanning an absolute impossibility.  This was a disappointment to the composer side of me because it meant that the use of the most powerful tool in music, repetition, would have to be forsaken.  Would this also mean that I would be forced by the prose to write songs where we would never hear the same melody twice in the performance of the song?

As it turns out, no.

As I worked compositionally, sometimes naturally, sometimes miraculously, I would find words that would fit previously stated melodies within the song and allow me to bring back melodies.  These melodies would not always scan perfectly, but often enough would capture the essence of the previously stated melody without jamming as long as I worked the words into the melodies naturally – the way one would really say them when speaking.  I began to term these kinds of melodies “reminiscent melodies” – melodies that would remind the listener of previous melodies, but were not, in fact, perfect repetitions.

When there were too many syllables and jamming would occur, I would simply open up the bar and add another beat to the music.

A simple solution for the lyricist, but then a rougher one for the composer.  Going from a 4/4 meter that has been established into a sudden 5/4 or 6/4 bar meant that I, as the composer, had to be extra smart and make the melody and song still flow naturally so that the listener would not even notice the change of meter.  Not an easy task…

But I figured that if Stravinsky did it so beautifully, the why not me?

So that became my method to eliminate jamming (too many syllables in a musical line).  I believe it has worked, by and large.  To me the songs feel natural because the prose is spoken/sung naturally with the original intent of meaning within the music.

It makes it, perhaps, a bit rougher on some singers learning the music if they are not accomplished professionals with experience in changing meters, but even the amateur will pick up the nuances of the music by careful listening and not have to worry about whether they are singing a 5/4 bar or a 3/8 bar.

I’m very fortunate to work with a highly trained vocalist, Julia Wade, who has had years of experience singing some of the world’s greatest music as an opera performer and even sings in 5-6 languages.  With her, I have to remind myself to write more simply sometimes so that many others can sing the songs as well because Julia can handle just about anything I throw at her. (more…)

The Decline of Lyrical Craftsmanship – Part 3

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Note: If you have not read my previous two posts, “The Decline of Lyrical Craftsmanship – Part 1 & 2” first, I strongly suggest that you do that now, if possible.

Mary Baker Eddy

So here’s where we left off at the end of Part 2:

So now along comes a new project, a new and exciting challenge that throws much of this out the window for me and confronts the very fundamental in me with spectacular defiance.  To be continued…

I choose to write a series of songs from the text of prose – prose where I cannot change a single word because I am quoting an established author and her historic work – Science And Health — With Key To The Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

I’ve heard a few attempts at this in the past – attempts that I deemed unsuccessful because the songs obviously wandered in a through written, basically non-melodious style that did not capture my imagination.  Some ideas were more successful; however, it was an idea that did not tempt me, and I’ll have to admit to dismissing it somewhat haughtily as simply a bad idea.

It turns out I was wrong.

The Missus needed a song to sing Christmas morning at her church gig in Boston.  She came to me with the Biblical lines made famous by Handel himself – “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace…” She also suggested to me that I look at Mrs. Eddy’s first paragraph from her book, Science And Health, which read, “The wakeful shepherd beholds the first faint morning beams, ere cometh the full radiance of a risen day.  So shone the pale star to the prophet-shepherds; yet it traversed the night, and came where, in cradled obscurity, lay the Bethlehem babe, and his name shall be called Wonderful…”

I’ve often worked with Biblical verses in composing Inspirational songs.  Though somewhat tricky with the original rhythms obviously lost in translation, at least the words of the Bible can be massaged and sometimes subtly changed to improve scan and even add rhyme.  After all, there are many translations besides the King James Version, so why not have my own version in lyrics.  No one has ever objected.

But the Mary Baker Eddy prose gave me pause because I knew that legally I could not change as much as a comma in her writings.

My first impulse was to throw out the Eddy prose and write my own lyrics that told the story of the nativity – until I re-read the above paragraph again, and then again.

Mary Baker Eddy was a poet herself in her time and she wrote often with a flowery sense of the prose style of the late 1800s, but also with her tremendous grasp of the vocabulary of the English language, she could write with powerful technical clarity.

The above paragraph is an example of her more poetic prose and it suddenly jumped out at me as a possible lyric.

The wakeful shepherd beholds
The first faint morning beams,
Ere cometh the full radiance
Of a risen day.
So shone the pale star
To the prophet-shepherds;
Yet it traversed the night, and came
Where, in cradled obscurity, lay
The Bethlehem babe,

And his name shall be called Wonderful,

In it, when laid out in this lyrical form, I began to see the inner rhythms of the writing.  This particular paragraph, when laid out, was surprisingly rhythmic.  It had real possibilities. (more…)

Even Now

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Here’s a song in demand before its time – if that were possible.  If there was ever a time in our nation’s history for a shot of inspiration, it’s now.  Leadership seems to be stuck in a very unfortunate place ruled by ego and greed.  No matter what your political affiliation or taste, you can’t be liking what’s going down out there in Washington, D.C.  It seems like we need some new ideas, some new inspiration perhaps – something beyond the human will.  Here’s where Inspirational music can definitely help.

Last week in her church service (which gets broadcast around the world on the Internet) the Missus performed a new song fresh off the presses.  It has received tremendous feedback, the kind of response that makes all the blood, sweat and tears of this industry totally worth all the effort.  I’ll have to admit that we were not prepared for this response.  Who knew that this national occurrence would come?

Julia Wade (The Missus) chose the song to fit the sermon of that particular Sunday over a month ago, but it turned out to be the right panacea for the moment.  The trouble is, it is a new song that she has been working on for her new forthcoming CD, Silk Road, due to be released this coming Christmas season.  We have no single completed; we have no sheet music to sell – yet.

So we’re going to rush this one out to you ahead of its time.  We’ll release it as a single and its sheet music in the next couple of weeks.  I guess it’s just a song that demanded its own time – not on my schedule or Julia’s, but on its own schedule.   Like a baby who comes early – once it’s born, you simply have to stop all else and deal with it no matter what.

Here are only a few of the comments that we’ve received:

“We had the great good fortune to hear you perform “Even Now” in the Mother Church last Sunday.  We were traveling and just happened to be there in Boston. We both wept, it was SO gorgeous… even my husband cried — who is a Methodist!

Is there a recording of that song available?  My husband is an accomplished guitarist and he loved the guitar music so much too. Of course your singing was a gift!

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful singing with all of us.  We will never forget how special that was!” –Carolyn (more…)

Gettin’ It Done

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The selling of Inspirational recorded music is a rough road these days.  The selling of any recorded music is a rough road and it seems that Inspirational music is no different.  It also seems that there are far too many good reasons why – so many that the problem has become very difficult to solve.  Difficult for the entire industry.

Why?  Like I said, the problem is complex.  File sharing does not help.  The fact that many now find their music free and accessible on the Internet at any time and immediately also is huge.  Sometimes I think people are just too busy to listen these days and when they can, there are a myriad free ways to do so and access what they’re looking for.

So we’re all looking at alternate ways of doing business.  At Watchfire Music we are shifting more towards being a digital sheet music company and producer of ancillary music events.  Hence the WFM Listening Room and the WFM Learning Lab.

It’s a changing time and we’re having to change with it – whether we like it or not.

These changes have required wholesale changes within the company.  Focus, leadership, staffing, direction and the day-to-day implementation of just about everything we do has come under careful scrutiny as we fight to survive in a world of evolution. (more…)

Looking Back on 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

It was a very good year for Watchfire Music, your Inspirational music company and on-line music store.  We are grateful to list the year’s accomplishments and positive growth below:

The creation of the Watchfire Music Collection – thematic compilation CDs featuring the best music of Watchfire Music artists.

Send To A Friend – Send the gift of music to a friend along with a personalized seasonal gift card.  It’s easy and quick!

Catch up on Sparks From The Fire – monthly fliers featuring the best of posts from the past month.  Easy to follow and comprehensive.

Accompaniment tracks from our DSM division for vocalists everywhere.


Things To Come – Part 2

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Part 2 — As a producer:

StudioIt’s a busy time.  Spent the weekend in the studio working on two projects.  Will spend today, the day after Valentines Day, celebrating 14 year anniversary with the Missus.  I’ll actually take the day off.

The rest of the winter months and spring are loaded with music projects for Watchfire Music – so many that I must get better organized and get my arms around them all.  Here’s a list: (more…)

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