First [blog] entry on the new WordPress system:-)
This weekend at St. Peter’s I hosted guest musicians Scott, Megan, and Erin; we spent most of the afternoon yesterday working on music for worship today. Two original compositions and three unique arrangements rose out of collaboration among friends old and new; below is a piece-by-piece look at the music we made. Scottie and I also warmed up with some acoustic h&s beforehand, including “Under My Protection,” “Where Will I Alight?,” “Wait, You’re Where?!,” “Blues, or Astroblue?,” and “Major & Minor.” Q: Why do I like questions as song titles so much?
“St. Peter’s, Va, Mawu, Va” – My drum call with ScoMo was a combination of two rhythms; the first a medium groove for improvising to call the congregation into the sanctuary, then breaking into a furious step (get out the way, get out the way!) and the spoken Call to Worship with Jody in Ewe language. The title means “St. Peter’s, come! God, come!” – someday I’ll do an EP/album of drum music, and this is definitely going to the “SAVE” pile.
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” – Megan’s guitar arrangement of this traditional hymn placed the first and second verses in a new harmonic framework with a new melody; we all joined together for the third. It’s a dynamic setting, the music flowing around and reflecting the lyrics; Scott (sax), Erin (viola) and I (djembe) were responsive to her lead and her voice.
“From The Cloud” – Scott’s new composition, written for this Sunday, reflects the day’s text (Mark 9:2-9). From the sound of footsteps ascending the mountain, the transfiguration itself, and the voice that follows, he sets the elements of the story in a jazz/African context with saxophone melody and drum rhythm. In a style similar to “At Its Rising” (on the MFR XMAS comp), Scott explores the intersection between composed and improvised elements of music; he writes sections/themes/melodies/rhythms, and some “glue” that holds them together. For a performance, we dance through these sections/glue in a given order, improvising with their sound, length, intensity, etc.
“Dear Lord” – Scott chose this Coltrane tune, and we set it in a slow gospel 6/8 rhythm, because of our minimal instrumentation (sax/drums – no piano, etc.) and because I’m not so much of a swing drummer (the original is in a steady swing 4). I felt best about the 10:30 version; I was finally finding the right combination of space and sound to support Scott’s big sax tone. Sidenote; the large acoustic instruments, tenor sax and djembe, sounded incredible in the sanctuary without amplification. I wish my voice and guitar had that size sound, because I love playing without mics.
“This Little Light of Mine” – Funny story; we talked about doing this piece early last week, and decided on it Wednesday. We didn’t decide who would lead it… so on Saturday afternoon as we were putting everything together, we discovered that Megan, Scott, and I had all done different arrangements! We settled on Megan’s, which included a great counter-melody (I need to learn that trick, M+E!) and complete with authentic ’80’s-style drum/vocal breakdown at the end. “Everywhere I go, I’m gon’ let it shine…”