Category Archives: Instrumental

Wistful

This is a simple piece of music that I love playing! It carries some of the wistful feelings – longings, yearnings for life. Sometimes these seem inexpressible and difficult to articulate. They are most felt for me as ‘pangs’ of the heart, not only emotional but physical as well.

Hymn Songs – When I survey & Be Thou My Vision

My son was working on a song that required this really cool tuning, CGCGCE. I was doodling around and ended up working on a theme around a few hymns. I kept working on it and eventually played through a mixing desk with some creative reverb. What you hear is one of the many versions that I played.

I recorded with my Guild acoustic plugged in and also miked with our lovely matched pair of Rode NT55’s. Clearly I added some heavy reverb (Logic Pro’s Space Designer) and voila. I did try to get it perfect, but twas not to be, but I like the version in any case.

The two hymns are When I survey and Be Thou My Vision, which both have great meaning to me. The former reminds me of the cost paid by another to help me form better relationship, both vertically and horizontally and the latter is a fond boarding school favourite and my one chosen contribution to my funeral plans (I know; it’s a bit morose of me). To me they are both a celebration of life and what I see as important. I added a few “festive” sections in between, for light relief.

Two in One

Background: When I heard that my lovely sister was soon to be married I wanted to contribute something to the wedding. I had been messing around on my nylon string guitar. I figured out a little kind of light jazz piece and thought it had something going for it. I realised it needed a bit more and so I played versions of the piece into my son’s looper and improvised to my piece in our lounge. This went on for several weeks and I figured my piece should be dedicated to my sister and her husband. I ended up playing it at the wedding while the newly-marrieds signed the register. (On the day I needed some extra music to fill in, so I did a version of  “Ian’s instrumental” which happens to also be in the key of “E”. You can also hear this piece on this website – although I had to play all by myself without the great Simon’s guitar work).

Why the name “Two in One”?  This song is really about the challenge of one life joining with another. In fact the two parts should be in “conversation” with each other, but I had to “chat” with myself. The parts are complimentary, the first part by itself would be boring, the second by itself perhaps frivolous and nonsensical. Together, I think they produce a meaningful whole. Of course, ideally marriage carries these elements of give and take, mutual deference, reciprocity and so on; the Two becoming One. It has been my experience that marriage needs lots of help these days, not only from the two hearts that choose each other, but also from those around who help to encourage the couple. My own marriage would not have made it without real friends and The friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Some recording/tech details: The guitar I used is a Yamaha Silent guitar – SLG110N. It is an odd hollow shape made for practicing really. I saw a video of my guitar heroes (Lee Ritenour) playing one and I remembered it when I saw this one on sale, special price …. what could I do? I added a guitar to the collection and we have just passed on my wife’s original Yamaha nylon string to our guitaring son (so I am still not hoarding!). I recorded this version at home without a looper. For those who know how these things work, you will realise that I start the second guitar piece just before the original “loop” is done. In fact I didn’t use a looper at all for this recording, I figured the quality would be better this way. I recorded direct in and used Logic Pro effects. I realise there are small errors. I worked really hard to get it perfect, but the wedding was in December and I haven’t put in enough practice time really… and I figured it’s the way marriage is, wonderful and a little out of time with each other and sometimes not quite in tune…… Hopefully the errors won’t distract too much. BTW thank you, Tanya, for helping to name the song and for listening to it soooooo many times while I worked on it.

Creator God Meditation

This song is part of the 3 songs that we recorded almost by accident a couple of weeks ago. We had just worshipped to Hope is Rising. Simon reminded us that we do really need to take time to “breathe”. We hung around on the Am7 theme. I played a bit and added in a bit. Then another section came to us an Fmaj7 G Am7 part and variations of that. Tanya took over the lead. You will hear Simon and I “conversing” and echoing each other’s cry for those who have gone before (Anzac Day was just before this) not only in life, but also in the passing down of knowledge about life and how God moves.

We find this kind of music is lovely for those who like to take a moment either in the day, or often for us, it seems to be in the middle of the night. One of the great moments in this song was when both Cheryl and Tanya both “breathed” during the song – just one of those moments…

For tech details see “Hope is Rising”

Early Morning

Last week as we got up in the morning Tanya, my wife, and I were chatting about how early mornings when you are half asleep can be filled with great hope and also sometimes confusing and even dark moments. I had said good bye to her and she went to work. I had some time so I played my guitar a bit. Then I thought the little chord ditty I had at the start had promise so I plugged into my looper (for those who don’t know, a looper is a device that you play your instrument into and it remembers what you play and plays it back to you so you can play something else over the original – if you get my meaning.)

I decided the ditty had more than a “looper” amount of promise. I powered up the lonely recording equipment and laid down the ditty, which is just the first few chords. I then improvised as I recorded playing the Gm, Am, Bbmaj7 Bb/C section etc and then found myself in an Am section (the dark section of the morning). That ended well on an Asus2 (which had no major or minor to it…. nice and ambiguous). I decided to then go back to the starting point again and managed to end on a major (actually also a sus2 chord).

I laid the “solo” guitar part over it “off the top” (Yes, I know it sounds like I wasn’t sure of where I was going, that is because I didn’t know where I was going….). I ended up playing the first notes of “Here comes the Sun”, albeit in the wrong key. It felt like there is always hope at the end, the Sun keeps rising, a new day dawns and there is light enough for this day.

Feel free to request the chord chart if you want to play it. It starts with an Fmaj9sus (Offhand, I think). I will probably make a chart for it so we can play it. BTW when I say “play it”, I mean perhaps I play the chords and others improvise over the chords. I did overdub the very first chord section of the song as I had played it rather tentatively. It took me several hours to manage that. Perhaps there is a lesson here. While feeling inspired I laid both tracks, probably in under 30 minutes. With much less inspiration I struggled to overdub myself.

(I do wonder if anyone reads these things…. but I enjoyed writing it in any case ;))

Late Night Musings

I wrote this piece of music after hearing a student at school play a jazz piece. I thought, if they can write a jazz type piece, could I? It was not as simple as I thought, however, I have grown up with plenty of jazzy music being played at home, so it is not like I had no idea, it was just that I had not tried to write in that particular style. I find that as a teacher, I am often challenged by what my students do. I feel that if I expect my students to do something creatively then surely I should expect the same thing of myself. I need to remember what it feels like to try something from scratch, to be out of my comfort zone and try something new, no matter the results.

I think God sometimes asks us to step outside our comfort zone. It is not so much to make us feel inadequate, as to show us that He is there and anoints us for the task at hand because we cannot afford to rely on ourselves, but have to fully rely on Him. More often than not in those situations, I come out marveling at the wonder of how God leads us and we are able to look back and go, “My gosh, how was I possibly able to do that?” God is so gracious in so many ways.

In this version (we may put up a studio version at some point – as you can see, we are into two or sometimes more versions of a particular song or piece of music), Ian is playing elex guitar and I am on keys. We played this at an Arts weekend at the theatre in town and was the first time this piece had been played in public. This was a result of deciding to play our original stuff we feel God has given us to sing or play. We were mixing our own sound on stage and at the beginning I am just checking with the front of house sound guys if we have the mix right.

Running Free

I started meandering along with this piece back in 2010. I laid down the main structure of the song all in one sitting pretty much. I hadn’t intended to even write a song as I recall, but it is amazing what comes out of a person when you sit down and pour out your heart.

The piece kind of grew along as I laid down the guitar tracks. I am not even sure which ones got put down first, but I do know which one was the last one. The kind of lead section was last – I had put it down, but the timing was rushed – so it sat there until a few days ago when I finished this draft of it. I say this draft because I can partly hear another whole improvised section in the middle of it. Simon hears some airy keyboard part. Perhaps one day I will do another version.

Tanya named it Running Free. Previously it was called “Ian’s 2010 composition” – talk about original! She felt that’s what it said to her. I think it’s a great name and it’s my desire, to run free. I know Jesus has set us free, but walking in that freedom is another story.

The tech stuff: I used my Godin electric and mostly played Logic Pro guitar amp sounds with it – direct in. The lead guitar part is through my vox Tonelab and the fretless bass is by Tanya – also using a Logic Pro sound. There are 11 tracks that are finally used 5 backing guitar tracks, 1 lead and then the fretless.

Ian’s instrumental

This song was written by Ian as a short solo guitar piece probably 15 years ago. Tanya then added a lovely flute piece to it quite a bit later. We used to play it back in the day when quiet, sort of meditative music may be helpful, in church or elsewhere.

This particular recording is not done with the flute part at all. What happened was Simon and I were playing at a Father’s Heart event over dinner – as kind of background music. We had set up and done a sound check etc, when Simon needed to be off for a few minutes – he can do this from time to time, like the time in Wellington… but that is another story, and there is no music to go with that story – we didn’t record the death metal…. Anywho, back to the point. So, he disappeared and I thought I would get a chance just to shine a bit with MY song seeing he was the star of the show… No seriously, I just thought I would set the scene by playing a bit. He came back after a few bars and I was about to wind it up and let Simon sing, but he started playing along. I don’t think he had ever heard the song before, but he did some great improvising over the chords. In my opinion it is probably Simon at his best – just feeling the moment and working with me and me with him, just going with the flow; special times. So, we really composed the song together “on the fly”. Actually it’s become the way we have started several “gigs” like this. If you want the chords, contact me and I will put them up in some form – basically it’s a kind of open G#m, F#m, G#m, B, A and later Amaj7 etc.

On a technical note, Ian played his Godin – using both his acoustic guitar out (through a set of mac effects) and also his electric guitar out through his Boss GT-5 going out through the mac as an amp simulator. Simon plays his modified applause acoustic though his Vamp 2 – with all sorts of effects on it.

Scooping fun

Well, this is the first song of Ian’s on the site…… they don’t let me out much. Sometimes I find a quiet moment and this song is the kind of thing that can happen. So, we were away in Auckland and I had our little mac and Garage band and my Godin and some time and not much inspiration and…. I “wrote” this piece – what I really did was practice some scooping (you sort of push on the whammy and then play a note and slide up to it). I quite like it actually – I thinks it’s kind of funny. Perhaps one day it will grow into a fully fledged song.