Making my music shareable!

Posts tagged “music

Lift Me Up (New song – finally!!)

Something about working full-time again has given me an excuse to not find a great deal of time for working on music. Despite the twinges of desperate longing when I hear beautiful music (Candlelight a few weeks ago, for instance – what, me cry while listening to Cathedral Choir? Never!!), I somehow have difficulty creating the time to craft beautiful music of my own. I think I’m just being lazy.

I actually began working on the lyrics for this piece over a year ago – probably around August/September 2012. I finished the score in June, and around July finally used the microphone my parents gave me last Christmas to record the voice part. I had the mock-up mostly finished in November, but only found the time this past weekend to sit down again to give it a “fresh” listening to see what else I needed to adjust before I could call it “finished.”

I sometimes feel like there are a lot of “perfect” people in church – or at least, a lot of people who seem that way to people who don’t know them intimately. It is easy to think that if all those “perfect” people in the congregation were to find out about one’s faults or struggles, they would instantly condemn the wayward soul as being out of touch in their walk with the Lord. Even if the pastor regularly makes the comment from the pulpit that the church is “a bunch of imperfect people serving a perfect God,” it seems like we don’t have very much opportunity to realize that this is true.

I’m not suggesting that we should air everybody’s secrets from the stage, and I get the “glorify God instead of our issues” concept. But at the same time, the Bible says that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses, so would it not encourage others in pain to know that other people in church, other strong Christians, also suffer? To know that they have a relative in trouble that they want the church to pray for, or that they are struggling with depression, and to watch how they deal with that difficulty? To realize that it does not make one a “bad Christian” if one has troubles in this life, is sick, has times when it is hard to fight off doubts, sometimes has to struggle against sin (we do still have flesh, after all), or does not have a “perfect” life? To be aware of the depth at which a fellow Christian has been and from which God has rescued him, and take heart that if God was able to pull that person out of their troubles, He can do the same for them?

It annoys me when preachers or speakers or songwriters gloss over real struggles and make it seem as if it is the simplest thing in the world to simply “call on the name of Jesus” and have everything be set right. Even if they claim to have been depressed like David, if they make light of it, how is someone going through a similar circumstance to believe that that speaker really understands what it is like to be in an emotional black hole, and thus believe that it really is possible to be set free from it like the speaker was? I don’t think we should glorify our problems, but does it not glorify God the more to acknowledge just how much He has done by admitting how bad the problems were that He was able to overcome anyway?

I didn’t want to write this song. Even though the lyrics are essentially lots of snippets from the Psalms, slightly modified to fit and interspersed with a few additional lines, it feels far too revealing to share. At the same time, though, that was part of what I felt was the reason God was asking me to write it. To admit the pain I’ve felt, to bring the listener into the reality of where I’ve been, and my attempts at getting out; to let others know they are not alone. Unlike a normal “Christian” song, it never really resolves itself; the trouble isn’t over when the song is. Instead of saying, “I’ve been there and I’m fine now, so buck up, shut up, and shape up; you wouldn’t be having trouble if you were right with God,” the idea is to say, I’ve been there; I know what it feels like; so let me cry with you, and then let me tell you what God has done for me. Facing trouble and being broken does not by default mean that your relationship with God is also broken, and I believe there is a verse somewhere about sharing each other’s burdens…

Lift Me Up WAVE

Lift Me Up PDF

My God, my God,
Why have You forsaken me?

I cry out to you
I used to lift my eyes
But I can’t lift them anymore

I am lonely when not alone
My heart is troubled
When nothing’s wrong
All is darkness within my mind
Free me from my anguish;
Free me from my anguish, Lord!

I laugh and start to cry
I’m sad and don’t know why!
My joy is turned to gloom.
Lord, free me from my anguish.
Free me from my anguish.

To You, O my Lord,
I lift up my soul!
In You, my God,
I will put my trust.
You are my God and my Savior
You are my hope;
Help me find hope.

Turn to me and be gracious to me
For I am lonely and afflicted;
My head pulled down in despair.
The darkness opens up before me;
It seeks to pull me in.
Lord, free me from my anguish.

To You, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
In You, my God,
I will put my trust.
You are my God, and my Savior as well.
You are my hope;
Help me find hope.

Lift my eyes up to You.
Oh, lift me up,
Lift my eyes up.
Lift me up!
Help me praise You,
Help me thank You,
For all You’ve done
And have yet to do.
Lift my eyes.

Free me from myself!
From myself…


Undivided Heart

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in  your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” – Psalm 86:11-13, NIV

I like this passage.  However, I didn’t exactly go hunting for it; it simply happened to be one of the Psalms I read the day I was on a “try to write lyrics by focusing on syllables-per-line count” kick.  That was probably a couple months ago by now–I didn’t date it–but when I finished “Seeking God’s Peace” and therefore needed a set of lyrics so I could write a choral piece, I found it in my little notebook and decided the poem I’d written based on David’s prayer in Psalm 86 had potential.

Funny, isn’t it, how God arranges things to coincide?  Leaving aside the length of time it’s taken me to finish this piece, what with other chores and such butting in and stealing my time to work on it, when I chose the lyrics, it was simply because they seemed like they flowed well and I thought I could write an effective choral work with them.  There was no “I’m going through such-and-such a time and so I’ll really be able express what I’m feeling” reasoning behind it.  The last few weeks, however, I have spent a lot of time in two minds–regarding a decision that isn’t exactly “spiritually” related, but in two minds, nonetheless–and the fact I was working on a song titled “Undivided Heart” seemed awfully ironic.  And even as I would point out to myself that it was not a decision between the world and God, I would realize that in a way, it was–because whether or not I knew which one was which, ultimately, one choice was what I wanted, and the other choice was the one God wanted.  I’m not saying that EVERY choice we make in life is a God-or-me choice–I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to wreck or even cause complications for God’s plan if I wear the green shirt today instead of the blue one, for example.  However, this one is a little bigger than what clothes to wear and will definitely affect the specifics, at least, about how God will be able to use my husband and myself–even if I don’t think about it that way most of the time.  So although from a slightly different angle than David’s original Psalm, this song became my own prayer as I worked the last couple weeks to craft music that would adequately express the words.

Personally, I like the result (although there were quite a few moments yesterday afternoon while making the mock-up when I definitely did not!).  I hope you do, too.

Check out the WAVE file here: Undivided Heart

And for those who like to see the music, the score is here: Undivided Heart


Cares of the world,
Cares of the spirit;
My heart is torn in two.
Both sets of cares
Call for my attention;
Which one do I choose?

Give me an undivided heart
That I might praise You, Lord;
A heart solely focused on You.
I’ll remember Your love,
Your unending grace;
Make my heart undivided towards You.

It’s so easy to focus
On what my eyes see
And forget there’s so much more above.
Lord, help me remember
What I see is not important
When compared to Your marvelous love!

Give me an undivided heart
That I might praise You, Lord.
A heart solely focused on You.
I’ll remember Your love,
Your unending grace.
Make my heart undivided towards You.

An undivided heart can praise You.

The Patriot Deception: Seeking God’s Peace

In the summer of 2004, my family made a short film for a film festival and I, as the music major in the family, wrote the score.  Now, seven years later, I’m rewriting it.  Why?  Partially because I need the practice scoring, and the video is handy.  Partially because when I wrote it the first time, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, having never written that much music before, having never written for film before,  and having never had any orchestration or composition training (unless you count Music Theory I-III).  So I decided to see if, having achieved a Master’s in film composition, I could do a better job this time around.

I spent a LOT of time revising this cue after the first writing.  It’s interesting, trying to revise your own music yourself and trying to figure out how to improve it, instead of relying on a teacher to give you advice.  I listened to John Williams, listened to James Newton Howard, stared at my music in Sonar, opened it in Sibelius and put them side by side, and just messed with ideas between the two.  I’ve never done that before…I doubt my old laptop would even have had the memory to support such usage!  I also remembered that there is such a thing as a reverb effect….I think that helped the overall sound a lot, since even a little reverb really helps to gel the sounds and give them an atmosphere so they sound like they are actually being performed in a space instead of being MIDI sounds flying through a computer.

I started with a scene near the end of the movie, so it won’t introduce itself very much.  Basically, Joshua Kooper, the main character, has spent most of the movie trying to find his wife and kids while trying to keep the government convinced that he has been “reformed” to their way of thinking, as opposed to the Christian seeking to keep his country from falling apart that he was seven years previously when they captured him and stowed him in a R.E.S.C.U.E.S facility to brainwash him.  In this scene, Joshua has finally been reunited with his wife and is discussing the future.  He says he needs to find the other patriots; his wife begs him not to leave her again since she just got him back.  He then comes into the living room late that night for an anguished prayer session–he doesn’t really want to leave again, but he feels called to fight for the country’s survival.

The video didn’t bounce right in Sonar–the audio was lined up incorrectly–so I just have two versions of the audio, one with dialogue and one without.  The one with dialogue is 30-60 seconds longer since I included some of it on either side of the music for some context.

With dialogue

Music only

Psalm 40

My Sunday school class finished a study of the Psalms the week before last.  A couple of months ago, we looked at Psalm 40, a beautiful Psalm about trusting God and His renewal and rescue from trouble.  Around the same time, I was feeling bummed out, and the first several verses of this Psalm were very comforting.  And what do you know, I happened to be at a point between compositions…so I decided to create a choral piece.

I actually started with a verse later in the Psalm to open it up–I think it makes the waiting on the Lord section that much more meaningful to hear first that yes, the psalmist is/was in some kind of trouble–he isn’t going on about God’s goodness during the happiest time in his life.  God is faithful even during the storms of life.

PDF score: Psalm 40

Listen here


Be pleased, oh Lord, to save me;
Oh, Lord, come quickly to help me.
Be pleased, oh Lord, to save me;
Oh, Lord, come quickly to help me.

I waited on the Lord;
He turned to me.
I waited patiently on the Lord;
He turned and heard my cry!

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet upon a rock,
And gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to God.
Many will see and fear (many will see and fear),
Many will see and fear (many will see and fear),
Many will see and trust in the Lord.

May all who seek You rejoice, Lord.
May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You.




Honor Harrington

Ahhh….I finally get to post a new piece again!

My Roland Edirol UA-25 EX USB AudioCapture (isn’t that an exciting name?) arrived last week, along with its bundled copy of Sonar 8.5 LE…and then I subbed the next two days, so I had to wait till Friday to start playing with it.  And then had to figure out why it would only play every other note and only a few instruments.  And then yesterday, had to figure out how to get the audio out of Sonar while still sounding like it was supposed to.  And today had to discover how to use envelopes for various elements in an equalizer so I could eliminate hiss without making the full sections sound muted.

But after letting this piece sit for almost two months, waiting for the new technology I needed to be able to hear it in all its glory, it’s finally done!

This cue is for an envisioned scene — envisioned only, there are no plans so far as I know for anyone to turn these books into movies, and they sure haven’t asked me to score them! — at the opening of David Weber’s book “On Basilisk Station.”  The scene opens in space, watching a shuttle approaching the huge space station orbiting the planet Manticore, then cuts inside the shuttle to Nimitz, a treecat, sitting on Honor’s lap.  The camera pans up to Honor’s face, at which point she stands, thinking excitedly about her new command on her first hyper-capable warship, and exits the shuttle.  As she walks along, she thinks a little uneasily about her mentor’s seeming discomfort while he told her about her new ship.  Nimitz bites her ear to get her to stop worrying, and she smiles, thinking happy thoughts again.  She arrives at the “gate” and stares in awe at “Fearless,” the light cruiser of which she is now in command.  Tearing her eyes away, she walks over to the sentries at the boarding tube, gives them her orders & credentials, and enters zero-G to travel to the ship.

Listen to the wave file

PDF Score: Honor Harringtonv2

Music & Movement

Well, another week gone by, and still no way to produce mock-ups…In the meantime, here are some more “old pieces” from Composition II: Music and Movement.

To try to relate music to movement, we used the eight basic efforts and four “drives” from the Laban movement theory.  They are derived from the continuums of space, time, weight, and flow, basically…The usefulness is by noting which characteristics the action has (pressing, flicking, wringing, dabbing, slashing, gliding, thrusting, floating) and then looking at the definition of each for where it lies on the continuum so the music can be written to possess those qualities.  Confused yet?  Yeah, the only reason I was able to list what I did was b/c I pulled out my old Laban for All book.  It was a little mind-bending when I was in the class; after not thinking about it for several years, I definitely can’t explain the theory right.

First, Vision drive: “weightless”  Revolves around time, space, and flow.  In this little scene created & performed by a couple of CCC Laban grad students, a little girl is running from something in a dream.  She discovers a sentient tree that calms her down and sends her back into a peaceful sleep.
Video: .mov file
Or, for those of you would like music only, you can listen to the .mp3here
And, of course, the score 🙂 :Vision Dance

Next, Spell drive: “timeless”  Revolves around weight, space, and flow.  In the first scene, created & performed by CCC Laban grad students, a girl loses herself in the story she is reading.  She meets a creature or two and a fairy before wandering back to reality.
Video: .wmv file
And the .mp3 for those of you who want it
And score: Spell Dance

Finally, another Spell drive.  This scene (created & performed, once more, by a CCC Laban grad student) is a bit odd…the girl catches a bird, crushes it, and eats it, after which she transmogrifies into a bird herself.  Like I said, weird.  I didn’t actually do this one for an assignment–it was something to keep me busy and writing later during the semester.
Video: .wmv file
The .wav file
And score: Spell Transmogrification

Thanks for reading/listening!

Time Gone By: When I Knew How to Score

I finished cleaning up the score for my newest choral & piano piece based on Psalm 40 today (I limited to myself to SATB–four parts only!), but since I still don’t have a solution for Sonar, the printed manuscript will have to sit in my binder for a bit longer while I start on the next project (haven’t decided what yet…).  Of course, Sibelius has decided to start acting up now. *rhe*  Nothing much–I just can’t set the Devices to use the MIDI input from my keyboard (it locks up when I try to close the dialog).  Which means I have to “type” in all my notes instead of playing them in–that means typing “A” on my laptop keyboard for an “A”, a “3” to stack the note a third above an “A”, and a “4” to stack a note an interval of a fourth above that to get an F chord in first inversion and then using Ctrl-up or down to adjust to a different register if necessary instead of simply hitting all three notes in the correct octave at the same time.  Slightly more time involved, but it works.

Since I finished a piece and didn’t feel like deciding just yet what I’ll start on tomorrow, I decided to take the time to hunt down a few of my old .wav files.  Ah, when I knew how to score!  When I could make a mock up without even trying, hardly!  *sigh*  Of course, maybe if I had bothered to PRACTICE more during the last three years, I’d still be able to, neh?

First, the final assignment for my Dramatic Scoring class my first semester in grad school: Lydie Breeze.  The scene was NOT something I wanted to watch twenty gazillion times (necessary for writing good score), but I managed to write a pretty decent piece, anyway.  I’m not sure whether or not I should be horrified that I did such a good job…  Since I don’t like the dialogue that came with the live recording at the concert, I made a MIDI mock up while listening to the live recording and trying my best to match it. *happy sigh*  I LOVE my muted string samples!!  Oh, if only I could make mock-ups like that all the time…  
Listen to the wave 
And, of course, the score 🙂 :Lydie Breeze

Next, the piece that, with Lydie Breeze, I submitted for the ASCAP/Mancini scholarship competition: Motorcycle Chase.  This one was third semester, Music & Movement.  The assignment was to take elements from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Don Davis’s Matrix score, both of which we had just studied, and create a one-minute action piece.  I had fun with this one. 🙂  I never cleaned up the score, since the assignment was purely for the audio, but here it is if you’re brave: Motorcycle Chase  And the .wav

Last one for today, and then I’ve got to go make supper. 🙂  Also from the Music & Movement class, a chase scene from Bullitt.  This was composed to an actual scene, but I can’t find the video on my external hard drive…so music & score only, I’m afraid.  Same story on the score, so again, if you’re brave: Bullitt  And the .wav

Enjoy! 🙂