All posts tagged "Songwriting"

Joyful creativity


Below is a promo video from an upcoming release of old material by Bruce Springsteen. The compelling part of the clip for me was the sheer exhuberance displayed by Bruce and band member Steve Van Zandt playing an unfinished song together on the piano. This is a glimpse into a joyful, creative process that I wonder if worship leaders and musicians don’t long for on a regular basis.  It reminds me of the reason I loved music – it was fun! Bruce Springsteen – “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town'” Sneak Peek HT:  Mark Moring


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Songs of lament


While songs of lament have a long Biblical tradition but seem to have given short shrift in the current milieu of worship music. Michael Card is among those recognizing the situation: “Our theology tells us that if we complain to God, we’re being disrespectful. But at least 80 of the Psalms are actually Laments. It has become a lost language to our culture…. Every lament in the Bible, with the exception of Psalm 88, ends in praise. The answer to all our laments is seeing the face of God.” But there is a resurgence of the use of lament in Christian worship and music. Dave Trout @ UndertheRadar (www.radarradio.net) interviewed Card for his blog and has a great episode featuring new songs of lament.  Here’s the blurb: Take a walk on the darker side of faith.  All of the music this week creatively expresses the theme of lament.  We’ll also talk about why this topic is important to our faith.  Includes music by Jon Foreman, Michael Card, Emmylou Harris, and an interview clip with Eric Peters. Stream the episode here. Contact Dave here and let him know I said hello.


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Ten Good Ideas for Effective Songwriting


Here is a entire repost from the blog of David Neff of the Christianity Today Media Group, who took notes on Keith Getty’s session at the 2010 National Worship Conference  (some things are best left as-is, and this piece is a case in point). His blog – Ancient Evangelical Future – is worth a visit. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Irish songwriter Keith Getty began his workshop Tuesday at the National Worship Leaders Conference by telling those who had come to learn how to write a great worship song to leave. “Because art is the expression of life, you cannot ‘how-to’ creativity.” Getty collaborates with his wife Kristyn and friend Stuart Townend. “They’re the words and I’m the music,” he says, estimating that somewhere between 5 and 20 percent of the words of any of their songs are his. “But we both get involved on both sides.” Here are ten notable and worthwhile ideas edited and distilled from Getty’s workshop comments: 1. The primary form we use is the story form. The gospel is primarily story. How do you take people who want 4-line worship songs and get them to sing 32 lines? By structuring the song as a story. 2. It is important to look at things that are harrowing and that don’t necessarily make us feel happy. The central core of the Christian faith is not something that makes us happy. We need to acknowledge our need for a redeemer. The reason we worship is that we meet God through the central story of the cross. 3. We need lament. But if you want to write lament, remember that a successful lament resolves. Not into a happily-ever-after ending, but like the psalms of lament, by ultimately acknowledging that God is God. 4. To write strong melodies remember that folk melody has to be passed on orally (aurally). I try to write songs that can be sung with no written music. I imitate Irish folk melody, with a great deal of contour, of rise and fall. 5. Use pastors and theologians as resources for your writing. But keep company with them. Don’t just ask them to fix your text here or there when you’re done with it. 6. Trinitarian worship safeguards us from so many problems our worship can get into: either an overly stern view of god or a casual view of god. Both can lead to problems in our lives. 7. Martin Luther is one of ten people from history I would want to have coffee with. I have looked at a lot of Luther’s hymns and emulated him. First, Luther had a high view of redemption. He also believed we live our lives in the midst of spiritual warfare. Thirdly, he had a high view of the church and a high vision of the church. 8. The congregation is the choir and it is merely the privilege of those of us who are musically gifted to help them sing. 9. Lyrics and great writing are the same thing. Lyricism is poetry. If your write lyrics, read as much poetry as you can. Lyricists are people who love words and do crossword puzzles. 10. Growing up, I never listened to pop music as a child. I was steeped in church music. That could be a blessing because everything I write can be sung by a congregation. Repost courtesy of Ancient Evangelical Future


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A song is not a painting: Honing your lyric


Songwriter Tom Kimmel on why a lyric is like a three-act play: Some of the story, be it a literal tale or an emotional or spiritual narrative, is revealed in the first act, which most often is the song’s first verse and chorus.  The second act, usually the second verse and chorus is a new beginning; more of the story is introduced and then summed up in the second chorus. The remainder of the story is then told in the third act often the bridge and final chorus. In my own work, if I then see that I reveal too much, too soon in my song I make changes. One technique espoused by a friend of mine is to take the first verse and make it the second verse… and to write a new first verse that is more of a prologue… so that the story has somewhere to go! Likewise if the song is slow to develop, I have the option of trying my second verse as the first verse. Experiment! Bottom line: a song is not a painting. It doesn’t exist all at once. It has a beginning, middle and end, and it needs to flow, rise and fall throughout its lifespan. (In filmmaking they call thisadvancing the narrative.) Full piece here.


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Matt Redman on songwriting


Very good interview w/British songwriter of “Blessed Be Your Name,” “Better Is One Day” and “Let My Words Be Few” (the younger Robertson shows a good grasp of his subject). Matt earns his plug with comments on: ‘Letting God’s truth steep’ Preparation vs. spontaneity His wife as co-writer Click here to view from CBN.


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Songwriting for the poor – Interview with Jennafer White of Wrent


Jen and Brady White were simply counting on a getaway, not on God changing their lives. The young couple – known to audiences across America as the band Wrent – visited the Dominican Republic in September of 2007.  They became part of a trip organized by Cross International to help donors understand and appreciate the work being done overseas to care for the poor. Jen was working for a Cross International board member at the time that was not able to come, so she and Brady came on his behalf. “We didn’t know anything about Cross International or what we were going to see,” says Jen, “We were just excited to go.  So we went, and the LORD changed our hearts forever.” Jen says the ministry began before they even got off the ground:  “We had already formed an unbelievable community as a group going down, even before we arrived in the Dominican.  Cross International set the tone for the whole trip – we felt so loved before we even got there.” Once touching down in Santa Domingo and driving 30 minutes out of town, Jen says they “became immersed in the most severe poverty I’ve ever been around.” “The floors in homes were made of dirt and it would rain every night,” she explains, “and since there was only one bed for 12 people, the family would have to sleep in shifts for 2 or 3 hours.  It was horrible!  The floor was literally washing away from under them.” Now Jen uses this story to illustrate the conditions to their audiences across the U-S:  “It’s a perfect picture of how desperately people need help.” Brady and Jen’s song Believe – birthed from their time in the Dominican – illustrates in music the cry of the poor for deliverance from wretched circumstances and conditions.  They have given it to Cross International to distribute to churches that want to focus on serving the poor during worship. Jen explains the process of writing Believe:   “We started writing it before the trip, but we just couldn’t finish it.  We just had a couple of lines and a tune, but that was it.  But after the first day in the Dominican, when we got back to our hotel room, and Brady started playing with it again, and it just came together then.” “God used our time in the Dominican to call us into our current ministry,” says Jen.  “It was then that we decided we wanted to raise money for and awareness about what ministries like Cross International are doing to serve the poor and fight poverty around the world.” Jen and Brady White travel extensively as the band Wrent, and share the love of God and the needs of the poor with hundreds of people at churches, youth camps, radio audiences every year. Music charts and video of their song “Believe” are available to church music directors free-of-charge through Cross International’s Harmony of Hearts program.  Click here to preview and for details


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Harmony of Hearts debuts in Kansas


First Hmong Church of Kansas City held the first Harmony of Hearts presentation in the state of Kansas on August 9. Pang Yang (pictured) and I met at the National Worship Leader’s Conference in July, where she immediately caught the vision of being a music advocate for the poor. After Pang’s presentation, she had requests for our song Believe to be translated into the Hmong language. Thanks to Pang, Pastor Yang, and the First Hmong CMA Church in Kansas City for their vision to worship God by serving the poor. Can your church be the first in your state to debut a Harmony of Hearts presentation?  Click Here for free materials and more information.


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