Speck of My Soul

I have a lot of song ideas. I tend to create short loops in Reason, or sometimes use the Voice Recorder on my iPhone, and sometimes they just stay in my head. Most of the time, those song ideas go exactly nowhere. Other times, Jenny also has a song idea, and we combine the two to make a song baby (song babies look nothing like soot sprites, pictured, just in case you were wondering). And so it was that Jenny had some lyrics and some melodies and I had some beats and some more melodies, and we begat “Speck of My Soul.” Be sure to listen to the whole ditty (it’s a full song download this time) because the ending is full of so much awesome it might actually be in danger of peeing its pants (well, it is a baby after all so I guess that’d be fine).

Download “Speck of My Soul”

Photo by monkwhy, via a CC License

Skies of Gliese 581 d

Gliese 581 d (pronunced “gleeze”) is a super-earth in the habitable zone around the star Gliese 581, in the constellation Libra (20 light years from Earth). It was discovered in 2009, and in 2011, scientists came up with a model that could explain atmosphere and liquid water on the planet. In other words, it’s a planet outside our Solar System that could support life.

My latest song Skies of Gliese 581 d features a spacey, electronic feel and uses some new components from the just-released Reason 6. As with all my music, it’s a free download and CC-BY-SA licensed, so you can remix and reuse it.

Download “Skies of Gliese 581 d”

Photo by debivort, via a CC License

(No Longer) Solo


I’m working on a solo album, and hopefully 2011 will be the year that I actually Get Things Done and finish it up. Here’s a short sample of a song that features Jenny, entitled (somewhat ironically) (No Longer) Solo. This is just a taste of what’s to come!

Update: I completely forgot to mention the most awesome part about this song – it’s our first collaboration. Jenny wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music (just like Music and Lyrics, aww how sweet).

Other songs I’ll soon have finished include The Condition, The Paradox, This Mess We’re In, and Happiness, Our Hearts Have Failed. Doesn’t that just sound fun and interesting?

Noisewaves – chiptunes+post-rock bliss

Noisewaves Cover Art

I just discovered an amazing (and obscure) genre – the blending of 8-bit chiptunes (think classic Nintendo) with post-rock. Noisewaves is a band from Grand Rapids, MI, and they recently (May 2010) published their self-title E.P.

The genre is familiar if you’ve ventured into any minimalist post-rock, but the 8-bit layers help create a unique sound that really makes this music stand out. The third track, Voice Recognition, Everything, is guaranteed to make you feel warm fuzzies inside (or is it cold, digital buzzies?).

Download Noisewaves, available for free under a by-nc-nd Creative Commons license.

Video Request: Trapped in 1984

Hey everybody, here’s a track I recently put together called “Trapped in 1984.” I think it would be really cool to have some dystopian animation to go along with it, so consider this my official request for animations/videos/mashups. It’s short and sweet which makes animating easier.

Download the track, see what you can do. Email me back or post it to YouTube (but don’t forget to give me credit for the tune).

Workaholic or just stupid?

I just finished calculating the hours I worked for the past 2 weeks (my pay period at Pantano), and my Pantano total is up to 70 hours, which doesn’t include whatever I’ll be working today. In case you didn’t know, I’m an hourly employee only contracted for 60 hours in a pay period.

Now here’s where you say “big deal, most people work 80 hours in 2 weeks.” Yeah, well, there’s more. The other ministry hours I put in, whether it be through the Refuge Center or through Priority, pushed my grand total up to 103 hours (still not including today, and assuming that Overflow on Friday will be loaded out by 10pm).

So now you’re saying “lots of people work hard and do ministry.” Yeah, well, my work happens to be the same job as my ministry, so it’s easier to feel overloaded. I’ve spent 103+ hours doing sound tech work and playing guitar.

Tomorrow night: Overflow worship concert at the U of A
Saturday: Women of Virtue Conference (and then regular Saturday service)

Next Sunday through Tuesday is an All Staff Retreat for Pantano, so I’m hoping the drive to Prescott and the stay will be relaxing and recovering.

Update Oct 11, 2006: The staff retreat last week was a nice “quick” getaway from such a hectic schedule. More importantly, Jenny and I are leaving Friday for a 5-day retreat to Northern Arizona. We’ll be town-hopping and mostly relaxing. God is good!

Tips for writing a successful hymn

This article once existed on BBC’s servers, in their Religion & Ethics section. I found it through a Wikipedia link. It has since disappeared, but the Google Cache was still intact (thankfully). I’m saving it from eternal damnation, so enjoy this lost Internet gem!

Tips for writing a successful hymn
Stuart Townend

There are probably more hymns and worship songs being written today than in any period of church history. But relatively few will stand the test of time. And that has always been the case: for every “Amazing grace” or “And can it be”, you can bet there are several hundred trite, interminably dull ditties that did the rounds at the time, but have now thankfully faded into blissful obscurity.

So how can we make sure what we write is worth singing for years to come? Here are a few ideas that I try to put into practice myself:

  • Study the Scriptures. The best hymns demonstrate insight and understanding of the Bible, and consequently bring the truths of the Christian faith to life. If you don’t know the message of the gospel, you can’t write something that will enable others to worship in spirit and truth.
  • Be poetic, not pompous. Sometimes when people set out to write a hymn, they use phrases which might sound ‘hymny’, but actually mean very little. Make your phrases mean something!
  • Combine objective truth and subjective response. When a hymn is just a statement of theological truth, it may be accurate, but it can be dry. Equally, when a hymn is just about how we feel, it’s wishy washy. The best hymns powerfully express the emotions of the worshipper, but as an emotional response to the objective truth of the gospel.
  • Look for musical dynamics. A hymn should have musical peaks and troughs, and there should be a sense of building to a climax where the melody soars while expressing the main theme of the hymn.
  • Make every line count. I see hymns that contain a few good ideas, but some of the lines are clearly there as just ‘filler’, and let the whole thing down. Don’t just stick in a line because it rhymes, or because you couldn’t think of anything else to say.
  • Prune it mercilessly. Once you think you’ve finished, go through it carefully, and get rid of anything that distracts from the main theme you’re expressing. Better to have two compact, punchy verses than four rambling, unfocused ones.

So get writing!

Copyright © 2004 Stuart Townend.

Disclaimer from Philip: I don’t have official permission to repost this article. I’m relying on my legal understanding of Fair Use, the Internet and mirrors/caches. I don’t claim to have written this article, nor will I make any money from it by hosting it on my server. Don’t sue me!