I once overheard someone (I think a non-Christian) remark that the Christian music industry is all the same. They were of the opinion that there was a cookie-cutter mentality that essentially created a predictable theme and content; styles might be different but the themes and messages were very rigid. Whether or not that is true is not the issue I want to address here. I believe there is a place for different christian songs, but to get a foot into the door of the industry is incredibly difficult. There is a long-standing emphasis on a particular form, something along the lines of ABAB, ABBABCA, ABACBA… You name it: Verse, Chorus, Bridge then mix at will. There is virtually no room for Theme, Expansion, Re-state theme. Or how about “Single Message.” Or “Establishing a general mood.” There must be many options. We need different ideas; unique ideas. Perhaps AbAbC, where b is a small transition, not a chorus.
I am 62 years old. I still think like I’m 18. Since about 1967 I’ve written music that others have enjoyed but that has gotten nowhere near being published. This becomes less and less an issue of monetary gain. Most of what I’ve written are very different christian songs. I call it music to soothe, to re-focus, to become open to the Lord. One major difference is that this music requires you to listen. This can be rare in today’s society. We’re used to quick glimpses, or music in the background. But some of my music can be very long. Songs like “The Beauty of Holiness,” which is, in form, AAA, that is, “Verse Verse Verse.” Also, I’ve taken a number of Psalms and virtually put them to music as is, some with very slight changes. These include Psalm 46 (God is our Refuge), Psalm 47 (Clap Your Hands), Psalm 100 (Make a Joyful Noise), Psalm 114 (When Israel Went Out), Psalm 130 (Out of the Depths), and Psalm 148. Others, somewhat in the same vein, have undergone more structural change: Proclamation – Psalm 2, Psalm 107 (O Give Thanks), Jeremiah 33:3 (Sing Allelu), The Rocks Would Cry Out, and as previously mentioned, The Beauty of Holiness.
Why do I mention all this? My motivation is building to force a birthing process, to getting my songs published as downloadable mp3s, just to let others see what different christian songs can be like. Some are just in the instrumental stage – no lyrics sung, although the lyrics for a couple of them are easily associated with the music, and would be available along with the music. I’ve composed the background music with a Korg T1 synthesizer, and although I’m mostly pleased with it, I’ve never taken the final steps to polish it. Also, where vocals have already been added, I’ve been reluctant to go back and take the changed background and re-record the vocals (which at this time in my life would probably require finding other vocalists). At any rate, the goal is publish, and maybe then to expand the offering to songs I haven’t yet put together.
Then, there are a couple of other attempts at extremely different christian songs which I still need to take the effort and enlist the help of others to bring out. One I would even call an operetta, which I think is emotionally invasive, bringing out a powerful statement of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The fascinating thing is, the vehicle for this opus is Psalm 22. When complete, this will probably be a 20-25 minute long piece of music. Another one is entitled “Once (Eden) Now,” which listens to Adam and Eve as they experience death in the garden, and then life through the grace of God.
So, as I write this, my excitement builds. If you have somehow come across what I have just written, advise me. Are you willing to take a look, on a sampler basis, at some different christian songs? Because if it’s worth it to you, it’s doubly worth it to me. The potential line-up:
Come Lord Jesus – Instrumental Proclamation, Chord Variety, Spirit and Bride say “Come.”
Majestic – Instrumental, a Declaration, Chord Variety
Proclamation (Psalm 2) – “Our God Will do as He Pleases”
Psalm 46 – God is our Refuge, mostly from the Psalm, Yahweh of Hosts is with us
Psalm 47 – Clap Your Hands, directly from the Psalm
Psalm 100 – Make a Joyful Noise, directly from the Psalm, then obedient
Psalm 107 – Thematically from the Psalm – what God has done for us
Psalm 114 – Directly from the Psalm, music only, an unexpected style
Psalm 130 – Almost directly from the Psalm, with interlude, a Psalm of hope
Psalm 148 – Instrumental only, emphasizing the 4-part counterpoint arrangement
Psalm 148 – Praise ye the Lord, directly from the Psalm, 4-part counterpoint bkgd
Jeremiah 33:3 – Sing Allelu. Story line, quest, discovery, ending in Praise
The Beauty of Holiness – A walk into glory. Lyrics exist. With vocalists will re-release
Psalm 22 – The exact words of the Psalm, interwoven with the Gospel
Glory and Honor – Instrumental, words available (multiple tempi)
Once (Eden) Now – Experience the fall and rise
Psalm 150 – Praise ye the Lord, from the Psalm, very rough copy
The Rocks Would Cry Out – A declaration of praise. Difficult melody. Unpolished
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(Sample: Psalm 148 instrumental)