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Posts Tagged ‘worship guitar’

…is sometimes far greater than tone itself. That’s one of the reasons that gear is so cool. You can look at my rig, see a Tyler strat, and assume I sound good. (And I don’t own a Tyler strat right now…just a dream i have. ;) hehe) Without ever actually hearing any art. Which isn’t necessarily bad…as long as the art, and in the highest form, art for the glory of the Creator, does follow at some point. Which is why after a very lengthy post on tone and a new pedalboard, without ever showing any sounds, it is most likely a good time to try to start grabbing emotions again. The emphasis, of course, as always, being on the ‘try.’ But we do want to make sure that we always maintain the focus that the gear, although wonderful (oh so wonderful), is a wonderful tool. Just a pallet and a paintbrush.

So, definitely waxing a little too poetic here, without the benefit of the ‘poetic’ part. But couple that with the many requests I received to hear the pedalboard actually being played (novel concept I’m sure…ya, apologies for not including that in the first pedalboard post, hehe), I give you the world premiere of the brand new song, ‘Awake…or Turning Random Knobs on a Pedalboard I Don’t Know What to do With’:

For those of you interested, that’s a Timeline doing the looping, another one doing the swells, and then a Memory Lane and an SAD-1 for warmth. Subdecay phase for, well…phase, and a Hartman Germanium Fuzz for the bowish swells, with a Mosferatu for the feedback holding-ish stuff. Oh ya, and the octavey shimmer was provided by an RV3 into a POG, mixed politely by the Dan Burgess parallel looper. George Dennis volume pedal, but who cares about the volume pedal right? It doesn’t delay anything! hehe ;)

So, I hope at least some type of emotion was conveyed by that. Come on, something to help me justify the board! haha But I am going to be trying to record different pieces like this quite often, and offering them for download here:

Soundclick Downloads

I do apologize, but since these are pieces, rather than backdrops for ministering through worship music, they’re not free. But the ambient pads in the 12 keys are and will always remain, free. But that should be all academic, as I doubt most of us who frequent this blog spend our money on anything that doesn’t have strings, a tube, or a true bypass switch. ;) Nevertheless, I’ve gotta pay for my gear habit one way or the other. Hey, at least I’m honest.

So that was a bit of the new pedalboard doing pedalboard stuff. And what do you know! No dotted 8th delay anywhere to be heard! I almost feel a little bit dirty.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

I usually take December off of everything but my home church. That way, I can reserve a month of ‘less’ so that I can spend holidays with my wife. Too often ministry kills marriages, and I’m not so sure God intended it that way. So this month is me getting back into playing for other worship leaders…and remembering that following is way harder than leading. When you’re the one leading, it’s quite simple to follow yourself. (Uh…hopefully.) You jump back into the following role, and suddenly you have to think about things like, ‘Are we jumping back into the chorus, pre-chorus, or bridge? Because that’s either a C, Am, or F…okay, I have no idea, so I’m just going to hit an overdriven C5 high on the neck because it’ll pass in all 3 chords.’ ;) Or, ‘Why does that sound off? Oh. Maybe I should play in the same key as everybody else.’ Rather than, when leading, you can just look at everyone around you disgustedly for not following ‘the Spirit’ as closely as you are, when ‘the Spirit’ suggested you play in Ab, when you wrote the music for everyone else in A.

And for you leaders out there, it’s a good exercise to worship with other bands and teams…without leading. You’ll find yourself going, ‘Stupid worship leader! Why can’t they just……oh wait, I just did that to my team this morning.’ And you’ll gain a bit of a new respect for the team serving under you. As well as putting yourself in a position to simply worship through your instrument, without the responsibilities of leading a team. Most refreshing. (‘Refreshing’ is a gross word, isn’t it? Just reminds me of ‘Refreshments will be served in the fellowship hall.’ Ugh!! Can’t you just say ‘You can have some watered down juice and cookies left over from last year out in the lobby’? Sorry, I get passionate about the over-usage of flowery words. ‘Organic’ and ‘transparent’, though…now that’s okay. ;) )

It’s just a cool thing to break out of the bubbles that inescapably form around us wherever we camp out at. Even if it’s jumping up at an open mic at a coffee shop. Something to get new perspective. To appreciate your teams more. To live…for reals. And maybe to worship a little more freely. And of course, just another place to experience your tone. hehe Provided you happen to be on the upswing of the ever-changing ‘I hate my tone/my tone kills all the pros’ schitzo.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

I hope this grabs you as much as it does me. Meaning, just tears a hole into your chest and literally beats your heart for you for a couple minutes, so that you can just float on a delay-laden cloud made of melody in sheer ecstasy. Oh ya, and the cloud is glowing with tube warmth. (Wait, Edge’s tone doesn’t do that to everyone? I mean…um…me neither.) But seriously, I hope it inspires you just a little bit. With apologies to Greg Lake, who wrote a beautiful coming-of-age Christmas song. But with a couple subtle lyric changes, the song has changed from slightly hopeless to moreso ‘clinging to Christ’s hope despite the hopelessness around you.’ Meant a lot to me.

And as we reach the end of the year, and my favorite holiday, I just want to say thanks for reading. There’s a community of love, respect, and knowing that none of us has it all figured out, that I’m just stoked on here. Amazingly enough, I’ve never had to delete a comment. Knock on wood. (But only handcrafted Baltic birch with finger joints. And it’s ported.)  So thanks, merry Christmas, and in the next few days, maybe try to make just one person around you feel God’s love from you. I don’t know if that’s actually thinking about what gift would make your wife or kid or family member happy, rather than buying another toiletry pouch with built-in shaving cream dispenser; whether it’s giving a homeless person five bucks; whether it’s taking the time to get the name of and thank the Salvation Army worker who’s been standing in the cold ringing the bell for 8 hours; or whether it’s smiling and saying merry Christmas to the checkout person who has to work on Christmas Eve…even if maybe they’re tired and double-charged you for the pineapple. People are actually receptive to God at this time of year, and a little love or a little hope might go a long way.

Sorry for the sap. God, love, and passion…with music to remind our souls of those things. And if that music is toneful (I’m thinking ’57 tweed Fender Champ with original speaker, a Melancon Tele in alder with quilted maple, and a good old Boss DM2……mmmmm), then all the better. Merry Christmas, my friends.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

 

You chose ‘(F) Chuckle Openly.’

(And if you have no idea what is going on, this is the second part of a series started here, where you get to choose your own ending. Basically, I’m asking everyone to risk some Michael Jackson (is it too soon?) and take some trips back to their childhood to remember those ‘Choose Your Own Ending’ books. You know, the ones that were really popular 20 years ago right alongside the ‘When you hear the chimes, turn the page’ ones. So for our purposes here, when you hear the anti-solo, turn the page.)

So, as the worship leader turns bright red and continues to fumble through his words trying to recover into the next song after his accidental blasphemy, you just stand in the background, chuckling openly, and throwing in a few delay-laden volume swells over the finger-picking the worship leader is doing as he continues to pray. The worship leader has many times asked you not to play during the prayers as he ad-libs some finger-picking, but you know it’s for the greater good. His finger-picking is just terrible. It really needs to be rescued by your definitely-not-yet-cliche volume swells…and of course every few notes by your volume swell/note bend ‘whale call.’

Finally the worship leader finishes his prayer, and turns back to you, as you are supposed to start the next song. You sigh. How many times do you have to tell him that this song cannot be started with your Les Paul? The tonal nuances are such that it requires the Telecaster. This would be common knowledge to anyone who would actually listen to the original recording of the song, but hey…it’s the worship leader. He plays his Taylor on every single song, even though he has a perfectly good backup Martin sitting right there. Something about switching guitars during the set causing awkward silence? Come on. That’s just dramatic effect!

Nonetheless, he’s the worship leader, so you give him grace. You give the ‘I gotcha’ look as you take off your Les Paul and turn towards your Telecaster. Meanwhile, he’s giving you the death stare of ‘I thought this was why we decided beforehand for me to pray between these two songs, so that you could switch guitars.’ (I know prayer more than likely wasn’t originally intended to be a worship service transitional tool by which to switch guitars, capo’s, and sheet music undetected, but you know it’s true.) His stare however, is lost on you as you bend down to change the settings on your Lovepedal COT50 to be more Telecaster-friendly. You don’t use fuzz on this song, but just in case. Besides, you know that you couldn’t possibly have switched guitars during the prayer, because you were compelled by your own musical genius to play the afore-mentioned volume swells the worship leader asked you not to do. Quick as the buffered relay of a Line 6 amp modeler (which means not very fast……wow, I’m sorry, that was just mean-spirited), the worship leader turns around and tells the congregation to take a minute to just let the world fade away and quiet their hearts before their Creator (also a great tool for transitions), and you finish setting your pedals, grab your Telecaster, kick on your must-sound-like-Hillsong dual delays (a DD20 and an Analogman ARDX20…with tap tempo mod, of course) and oh-so-smoothly launch into the intro of the next song.

And you’re feeling it. The tone is oozing out of your Hayseed 30 with upgraded EF86 preamp option, and you watch as the sound waves just move the congregation into throngs of passionate worship. (You can’t actually see the throngs of passionate worship because the expressions on their faces haven’t changed, nor have they stood up, lifted their hands, started clapping, or shed tears. But you know they’re being driven to worship. I mean, how could they not with a Hayseed 30 with upgraded EF86 preamp option? It’s just that the sheep are too scared and lazy to fully give themselves over to worship. That’s the only explanation.

The first passage is done…played flawlessly by your time-tested hands. (You don’t believe that tone is in the hands, but still…it’s nice to admit that it might be, after completing a passage as well as you just completed that one.) The drums start to tap in on the ride cymbal as you launch into the next passage. The bass subtly enters with a low, sustaining tone of harmonically anchoring loveliness. The keyboard fades in with a sweetly ringing, background synth pad…oh wait, he’s been playing that the whole time…hold on! There’s a keyboardist on stage? Who is that guy? (Sorry keyboardists…it’s the most unfortunate thing in the world, but sadly true.) Your concentration is just momentarily lifted as you marvel at the distant and wondrous sound coming from the stranger you’ve never noticed playing that odd-looking instrument with what seems to be something like ‘Korg’ or ‘Korj’ scrawled across it. But you don’t falter. No. Your Barber Liverpool hitting the front end of your amp sounds much to good for you to even dream about faltering. The music picks up (worship build time), the bass plays his second of the three notes he’s been given, and you start to take off into the introductory anti-solo……

And then it happens. You’ve hit a D. Now the congregation looks up. And with pained looks on their faces. Let it be known that D is a wonderful note. But the song is in the key of Ab. And it’s not Tommy Walker or Norma Jean. Your confidence begins to fade. What’s the next note? How am I going to recover from this? Why won’t that blasted D note stop ringing out? Curse my perfectly compressed sustain! You see the congregation starting to shake their heads. The sheep are restless. What can be done. Quickly you decide that worship needs a hero. And that hero is you. Only a guitarist as talented and toneful as you can save the church from the unholy dissonance that you unleashed on them! With the effortless tone, grace, and class of a 1960’s 12-string Rickenbacker, you…

A) Make a weird face and go over and check the tubes on your amp. (One of them has obviously gone harmonic.)

B) Continue playing the D…along with a bunch of other random notes, throw one hand up in the air, and pretend the sour notes are just the Spirit-filled result of being completely overcome by worship.

C) Take your unused capo out and chuck it at the worship leader to remind him never to play in capo 1 again.

D) Allow the D note to bring you to an E note, and then into the key of A, and keep playing as if it was a modulation the rest of the band missed.

E) Shake your head in disgust and glare at the other guitarist. And if he’s still in the middle of switching to his Telecaster too, and it would be quite obvious even to the drummer that he couldn’t have played the wrong note, then glare at the bassist. You could glare at the keyboardist, but everybody knows the keyboards aren’t in the mains. (Again, my apologies keyboardists…you know I love you, and if you come over to my church, I’ll make sure you drown everybody else out! But at other churches…well…I’m sure you’ve been there…)

F) Play off the D like it’s a diminished 5th jazz scale. Won’t help the worship mood any, but you’ll definitely get props with the rest of the musicians.

G) Turn to the other guitarist and laugh out loud, pointing to your guitar and making train wreck sounds and motions with your mouth and hands. (I used to play worship with a guy who would do this every time he would make a mistake. I tried to explain to him that these actions caused everyone to notice his one mistake, but they would never notice my ten mistakes, simply because I didn’t point them out with mimic’d train wreck sounds. But he was much too carefree and humble to care. I actually learned a lot from this guy.)

H) Fiddle with your massive pedalboard. (Seriously, everyone always believes this one.)

I) Just own it and rely on your superior knowledge of music theory to be able to explain away any mistakes afterwards in the green room.

J) Frantically turn off your 5 delay pedals trying to get the blasted tritone to stop ringing out any longer! Ah! Stupid delay pedals with spillover capabilities!

K) Just make D a part of the scale now, and come back and hit it at least 9 more times during the course of the song, until you’ve successfully pounded it into people’s heads so many times that they can’t help but just recognize it as part of the song. (I’ve tried this one. It never seems to work like you think it will.)

L) Smile, shake your head, and thank God profusely that even though He chooses to use us, and even though we should probably do our best to stay away from playing a D while in the key of Ab, He’ll probably still find a way to get glory in spite of us. I know it’s hard to imagine…I mean, we’re the ‘worship leaders’…’the battle cryers of the church’ ( ;) )…pretty important people with amazing tone. (Okay, at least self-important people with expensive gear.) But I think just maybe He’s got it covered.

So, choose your own ending. And of course, you can’t choose ‘L’!

And I know it sounds trite, but we do realize that the God who could do a much better job bringing glory to Himself by Himself, chooses to use us by letting us jam out music to Him every week, right? I know, I know that completely sounds like the cheeseball church thing to quote out of the latest ‘Worship is a Verb’ book; but it’s true, and I for one, forget it all too often.

Sorry for the Disney ending. Delay, tubes, Dumble, germanium, Arcade Fire, Mullard, decayed note artifacts, tone. Is that better? hehe :)

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.


 

Don’t learn to play the guitar, learn to use the guitar to make music.

And…that just sounded decidedly more Lifetime Original Movie than I had originally anticipated. (Of course, without the teenager trying to kill the wife of the guy she’s having an affair with. Uh…I mean……I’ve never seen a Lifetime Original Movie.) I stole it from a film; but in the film, the quote was about war. It sounded much cooler when it was about war.

However, despite my unfortunate attempt to sound profound and prove my poeticicity (well, if there was any lingering thought that I might be profound anyway…that just killed it), I still agree with the statement. Your sound increases exponentially the less you play your guitar, and the more you use your guitar to create music.

Splendid. (Except for the cheesiness. And the Lifetime reference. And uh…that’s most of the post.)
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.


Johann Sebastian Bach said this in the 1700’s. And I didn’t want to believe it for a long time. I wanted music to be technicality, style, and harmony (and of course that means, dueling guitar harmonies). But years later, I have to submit to the fact that music is, in fact, melody. Without melody, you have nothing but structure. But with melody, and countering melodies……that’s where the beauty comes from.

And with great melody, comes the transcendence of style. I believe that truly great melody shines through, no matter what style is being played. And to back up that belief, I have youtube videos. (By the way, you can back up any belief you have using the internet. Any belief. It’s wondrous.) But I’m curious if others feel the same. To me, the music is what I hear in each of these videos. The melody is transcending each of their different styles. It’s almost the same feeling from each song, just supported with a different style.

And there’s a lot of videos here. Sorry about that. But I really like music.

So first up (and guess what? It’s not U2!), is just a melody. I suppose, the purest form of music. Haunting song:

And then we’ll follow that right up with something with much more sound and many more instruments, but still keeping the melody out front where it should be:

From there, to a timeless tune. I was in an Irish pub one time (I have to put that in because those of you who know me, know I don’t drink…not for religious reasons, but for love of friends reasons…yet still, I go into every Irish pub I can for dinner, because Irish makes everything better…it’s like delay…and if you add Irish to delay, then the rejoicing is unsurpassed……wait, adding Irish to delay, that’s Edge! It’s all adding up now…), and this song came on. And literally, not even exaggerating here, 10 people from different tables, including myself, sang the first 5 words without even thinking about it. And then we all kind of laughed, and looked around at each other. Powerful melodies in this one. Not just the main melody, but the intertwining, supporting, and contrapuntal melodies as well (and it’s a little known fact, but I guess Richard Simmons indeed did play guitar for these guys):

Now let’s completely jump styles, but staying with the theme of intertwining melodies. This is one of those songs that you know, but have no idea why. Totally different style, but bringing out the same emotions and passions:

And to what, to my soul, sounds and feels like almost the exact same song. I could probably die to this:

Now this one…I could not die to this. I can usually not stand this style. But the melody is so incredibly catchy, for me this song truly does transcend its style:

So let’s bring that into something totally un-produced. And yet the melody still brings out the feelings and emotions, that really seem to support the life in the lyrics. I just love to raw nature of this:

And another one that transcends its style completely. There is a cheesy keyboard, and that guitar tone is definitely not the best (could be the VHS quality though, hehe…natural tremolo). But the melody he brings out is just from another world. Not to mention, this guy probably has some of the best sounding hands to ever touch a guitar:

So let’s add an electronica style to that. But again, the feelings are almost exactly the same. This is Michael Brook. I don’t even know what to call this style, but the melodies are just beautiful:

And then, not to leave worship music out of it. If every worship song was written with these types of feelings about the Lord in mind, not just in the lyrics, but in the music, too…I think the church could do a lot more with its music. Doesn’t matter the style, this melody is superb:

Alright, back to catchiness. As you’re listening to this, try to imagine writing the guitar part. If I had written that, I would have thrown it away without a second thought. But somehow, it became one of the catchiest melodies ever written. This song defies you to not keep the pulse with some part of your body:

A side note about that last tune; I think Jagger and Bono are long lost brothers or something. The uni-gender body stylings as they sing are ominously alike. But maybe that’s just to balance out the ‘ecstatic-ness’ of Charlie Watts. hehe But remember as you watch this next video, that the last one was the Rolling Stones. Okay? Because I’m about to throw in a bit of uni-gender speculation onto myself by showing this next one. But how do you not just dig this melody (and note the orange Divided by 13 the guitarist is using):

And since we’ve opened this box of metro-ness, let’s keep it open a little while longer, with a melody that seems almost as if it’s just existed since the beginning of time. Gotta mention this, because no one knows it, and they deserve some credit for this gorgeousness; composers are Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Arranged by Andy Beck:

Beautiful. Actual tears. Which means that the whole male thing is slipping further and further away. So I just have to show this. This is a complete divergence for me; but I love this band. They’re like, the U2 of metal. Haunting melodies that seem to come straight from a heart on a sleeve, and tons of beautiful, intricate, yet simplistic, ambient orchestration. I’m a man. (And if you get that reference, and you’re not my awesome wife, then wow!) Oh, and just ignore the ultra-cheese slow motion fire blasts:

And then to a song that brings out some of the same feelings as the last, ultra heavy one, in a completely different style. I would go to very great lengths to hear this done live. If your soul doesn’t ache after hearing this, then I hereby ban you from all Irishness. That may sound like an odd threat, but without Irish, you have no flutes, Braveheart, shepherd’s pie, Brad Pitt saying ‘Ya like diigs’, rain, or U2. Not much reason left to live now, is there. And the beautiful ache:

And to bring it back round to Bach here at the end, here’s the same feelings, different song. One of the most gorgeous and perfect melodies ever written (and yes, he is sitting on a picture of the ocean…sorry):

And of course, lastly, some of the most haunting and acheful (nope, not a word) intertwining melodies ever put into a piece of music. And yes, that does mean U2 ( ;) ):

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that music like this doesn’t need any commentary from me. And of course, I’m going to go ahead and give it commentary anyway. Music is melody. Not style, not technicality. Melody and supporting melodies. And those melodies can be rhythmic, too. Anything with a beautiful, and soulful through line that conjures emotions. And I truly believe that melodies like that transcend all musical boundaries. I mean, if they can transcend Journey’s sense of style, Kelly Clarkson’s MTV-hormone-induced-I’m-embarrassed-for-the-American-culture, In Flames’ metal fire, and the guy riding the picture, then they should have no trouble transcending anything else.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.


Alright, I’m going against my tendencies here. Which are to simply write, ‘Delay. That is all you ever need know.’ Which is, of course, true. But I’m actually going to post a video that shows one of the most creative uses for delay that I’ve seen a while. Now if you don’t like delay…………no. You do. Even if you don’t……you do. A close friend of mine turned me on to this video, and I believe Randy who posts here on this blog is a big fan of this guy, too. (Randy, if I got that wrong, my apologies. But you get some free linkage out of it! ;) ) Notice this guy’s ability to take the same delay tempo and integrate quarters, untimed, and dotted eighths. This piece is beautiful. And it makes me feel things for this man that I don’t want to deal with. (And if that statement frightens you, just pretend you didn’t read it. You’d be surprised how well that technique works. I’ve used it for years every time someone says, ‘I don’t use delay.’ Nope. You do.)

Splendid.
Karl.

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