Archives For My Art

Judah

June 5, 2017 — Leave a comment

Of all the instrumentals I’ve put together this year, there are three that I struggle to really like. Either it’s a case of me rushing the production, or not spending enough time, during the recording process, on synchronizing the rhythm.

I’m okay with them. As I’ve said before on these kinds of posts, the instrumentals that I am putting together are done in under 7 hours. It’s one way of attempting to stretch myself artistically.

Plus, I see my YouTube channel as a public art process diary, not a money making venture. It will contain my musical flaws, faults and not-so-good recordings. Warts and all.

I’m not suggesting that my work ethic is slack or that I am lax in how I create. The music is genuine, or as genuine as I can get it to be given my lack of practice over the years and current technological limitations. All in all, I’ll give it my best shot and make an effort to learn from every bump, and blister along the way.

One of those instrumental songs is called, ‘Judah.’ Teaching through Numbers 23 this morning reminded of the fact that I hadn’t yet posted the instrumental or given any commentary on it.

The passage in Numbers which triggered this is where Balaam sets out to curse Israel. This ”mercenary prophet” [John Calvin’s words, not mine] is set up to curse Israel a second time, however he’s met with only that which God has allowed him to speak, saying:

‘[…]The Lord their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them. God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of a wild ox […] Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself.’
(Numbers 23:18-24, ESV)

Calvin writes, ‘God will never cease to be gracious to His children, until He has led them to the very end of their course […] Israel, like a lion, shall be bold and strong, prompt in their resistance if any should provoke them.’ [i]

This is linked in with Genesis 49:9, where Judah is described as a ‘lion’s cub’. This is then later connected to the statement about Jesus, by John in Revelation,

‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.’
(Revelation 5:5, ESV)

Calvin writes,

‘the Tribe of Judah excelled in bravery. The sum is, that however, the people of Israel might be attacked on every side, it should be endued with invincible fortitude, to overcome all assaults, or to repel them vigorously. This courage was counted among the gifts of God.’ [ii]

With both art and sound, I had made an attempt to paint the tenacity of bravery in the midst of pain and breathless brokenness; of courage; of joy; of being awakened to the reminder that our strength is the joy of the Lord, and it radiates out from God’s holiness and grace.

As for the creative process, all the rhythm was created using a semi-acoustic layered over another semi-acoustic, bass and lead were done on an electric. The drums were sequenced via Garage band. The artwork was a fast drawn add-on.


References:

[i] Calvin, J. Commentary on Numbers

[ii] ibid.

Naming a tune can sometimes take time. There are days when the name will drop instantly. Then there are other days when the quest to aptly fit a title to a song is drawn out, long and tedious.

It’s no great drama since creating music, for me, forms part of practice. This coincides with the enjoyment of using a gift and the challenge to better myself each time.

I can’t help but wonder, though, how much harder this might if I were under the thumb of finance, corporate pressure and contractual obligation.

I’ve gained a healthier respect for the professional, who, sees his or her art dissolve into the mix of polish, performance and perfectionism. Rather than seeing their art come to life, they witness it being devoured.

On the creative front, each tune takes me approximately six hours to create, mix and post it in a video.

Currently, I only use audacity, a laptop, Marshall amp, guitar and FX unit for recording, which brings with it some challenges and limitations. The drums are sequenced using Garage Band on an ipad.

Blog posts like these function in much the same way as an active art process diary does for a working artist.

The title of this tune comes from a poem I wrote in April called The Embers of Inhaled Grace. If I could improve anything in this, it’d be the drums and mix.

‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’
(James 4:7. ESV)

 

 

Inhaled Grace Ignites

.

Relentless, I hear the sighs.
The “talentless” noticed by nothingness and its endless siren’s cry.
Sinking into the sands of insignificance,
.          head lowering;
.          a sun and its sinking glow;
.          heart being dragged under by the weight of its undertow.

Hear the black dog that snarls and rides with the incoming tide.
See the fight from within.
As the fire of creativity lights up embers,
.          and inhaled grace ignites.
For this battle belongs the beat of a drum,
.          foot soldiers, metaphors, the Rock of offense;
.          the white horse, its rider and the march of the second Adam.

Once more, embroiled in a stand-off with emptiness.

.        Once more, engulfed in battle against listlessness.

.                 Once more, pushing back echoes that drift through the mist of a toxic mess.

This battle is fought in the shadows.
Where fists meet walls in nightmares,
and an exhausted silence follows.
Each bit of shade.
Every movement.
One more potential mask.
Insincerity and plasticity,
.               hiding behind ersatz love, fabricated charity and a pristine facade.

Against which there is no retreat; no slide into the dark,
No giving in to the Black dog, its bite or grave digging bark.

Only complete surrender to the white horse’s scarred rider;
The alpha, the omega; the finish and the start.


(©RL2017)

‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ (James 4:7. ESV)

.

Wings stretch and earth darkens.

From West to East, wrists to wood
From the river of bitter vinegar, to where it merges with blood from the north.

South past open flesh,
.                        before which mockery stood.

To where pierced feet meet;
.                        on branch intersecting branch;
.                        where branch kills the vine,
.                        and the vine is laid to rest.

All within the borders
.            of an empire, and an empire’s hornets’ nest.

To where silent spaces are professionally sealed
For fear of blind and impassioned zeal.

Before the scarlet X.
That marks the scarlet spot;

To the place where men and women,
.                  embalm the unforgettable
.                  with a burial cloth.

Look to the place forged by Light;
.       to the heart of where the darkened,
.       once received their sight.

To where the sudden presence of the messenger
disturbed the guards and the still of night.

There you’ll find that death
.         and boulder was no match for Light from Uncreated Light.

There the fire-born, who stands inside this broken enclave.
turns to humanity and sets its gaze.

“From God comes His own humiliation.
This; God’s self-limitation, now become your exaltation.

This unforgettable vertical collision,
lifts the now forgiven.

Therefore, rise as you are raised.

For I tell you the truth, He is Risen!”


(©RL2017)

‘In the person of Jesus Christ, in the death of the Son of God on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. God allowed this humiliation to come upon Himself and this exaltation to be the lot of the other, humanity […] God could not be more glorious as God than in this inconceivable humiliation of Himself to humanity, and the no less inconceivable exaltation of humanity to Himself.’ 

-(Karl Barth, CD. II:1 pp.662-664)

Red Halo: Assisi In Chains

February 25, 2017 — 4 Comments

Red Halo RL2017In his biography of St. Francis of Assisi, G.K.Chesterton refers to something he calls a ”Red Halo”. He does this twice in the book. (Link)

Each time the phrase is found in reference to Francis of Assisi. The first occurrence is when some town folk rush to put out a fire where Assisi was praying with Clare of Assisi, only to find, not a fire, but him collapsed and a Red Halo surrounding them. The second is when the younger Assisi is held captive in a dungeon after gearing up as a citizen soldier to fight in a skirmish with a warring neighbour. Evidently, their squad was captured.

‘Something very vast and universal was already present in that narrow dungeon; and such a seer might have seen in its darkness that red halo of caritas caritatum which marks one saint among saints as well as among men.’ [i]

The once-an-atheist, Chesterton wasn’t to my knowledge, and wide reading of his work, into, nor was he an advocate of mysticism. So it’s fair to say that “Red Halo’’ is for intent and purposes a metaphor used to emphasise what he sees as being a strange alien quality to Assisi; something to suggest that Assisi was grasped by something, or rather, someone not of this world.

This week’s instrumental is inspired by that phrase.

‘If a man may well doubt whether he is worthy to write a word about St. Francis, he will certainly want words better than his own to speak of the friendship of St. Francis and St.Clare. I have often remarked that the mysteries of this story are best expressed symbolically in certain silent attitudes and actions. And I know no better symbol than that found by the felicity of popular legend, which says that one night the people of Assisi thought the trees and the holy house were on fire, and rushed up to extinguish the conflagration. But they found all quiet within, where St. Francis broke bread with St. Clare at one of their rare meetings, and talked of the love of God. It would be hard to find a more imaginative image, for some sort of utterly pure and disembodied passion, than that red halo round the unconscious figures on the hill; a flame feeding on nothing and setting the very air on fire.’ [ii]

As for the creative process, my primary goal was to use a riff I had come up with on a tablet. That didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped and as a result, the tune changed into what you hear in the YouTube video. The focus of the melody is the piano. The lead guitar was down in two parts. My idea here was to use it as a filler. The bass is both guitar and keys running through an FX. I also had not intended on the harmony in the background. When I fiddled with the second lot of keys in the effects on audacity the second set turned out as it is in the recording. Slightly eerie, but intensely cool, given the subject matter. As with all things I’m doing here, I’m learning a lot each time and having fun doing it.

As with all of my music, because I am only using free mixing software at the moment, all are best heard through decent speakers or headphones. I’ve found that some headphones cut out the base and others swing the sound to mono.

Pax Christi!


Notes:

[i] Chesterton, G.K. 1923 Saint Francis of Assisi, Henderickson Classics

[ii] ibid, 1923

Music & Art are my own.

(©RL2017)

Noah’s Revolution

September 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

noah-2When we get past the cartoon images and mockery, Noah, at the command of God, was essentially the Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of a naturalist. He knew how to grow food, make wine, care for animals and build.

With God at the helm, Noah, and his family, in the face of recrimination and direct opposition, faithfully nurtured a carefully coordinated exodus out of moral chaos and self-destruction.

Drawn back from the veil of its Sunday School drawings, and oversimplified Atheist polemics, Noah’s story is about surgical renewal. It is about the preservation and conservation of creation.It is the application of strong medicine with the aim of total restoration.

With God, not just at the centre, but by choosing to be by humanity’s side, Noah and his family are man and woman equally united before God, against a darkened and morally corrupt World.

At it’s core is God’s determined push back against the Abyss and its fanatical legions; who seek the slow extinction of humanity through the happy intoxication of excess, ignorance and unbelief. From which humanity is viciously guided towards the precipice of its total self-annihilation.

I’m close to three quarters of my way through Church Dogmatics 2/2 and I’ve got a lot to reflect upon. I can see the big attraction the politically left theologians and left leaning Christians have with this volume. It’s tempting to even say that Barth is ”on their side”, but that wouldn’t be quite true.

It certainly wouldn’t accurately describe the knife edge Barth walks between Christian Universalism and Calvinism, or the scriptural tension between the two that Barth plays like a musical genius. It’d be a premature surrender. Besides, I’m almost convinced that to conscript Barth into Leftism, is to selectively misuse and overlook his warnings about, and opposition to Nazism. Including jettisoning a large portion of his own theological position.

I plan to put together a few posts about this as time permits. It’s a great deal to discuss in one blogpost.

So, for now, I’m just dropping this right here: matching quote with verse; a sketch with both. I’ve rearranged the order in which Barth’s block quote appears in the text. This doesn’t take away from the integrity of meaning. There’s quite a few statements throughout 2/2 that contain the same calibre of that which is expressed here.

Karl Barth:

‘Jesus is the One who uniquely and in isolation represents man to God, and God to man […] For as such He is not merely the prophet and proclaimer of the good news of God’s covenant with humanity, nor does He merely call men to hear & receive this news, but in doing so calls them to active co-operation in its proclamation.
When Jesus calls the apostles to Him, He does not promise that He will make them Christians, or even that He will first make them Christians and then apostles; but He immediately promises that He will make them apostles; bearers to humanity of a commission that will be given to them, the commission to seek and gather [in the spheres of world and Church; He chooses them as they are, calling them out from where they are].’ [i]

Jesus:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” {Matthew 24:9-13, ESV}

 

RL2016_multiple barbs SOLO2

 


(RL2016)

[i] Barth, K. CD 2:2, pp.445 & 444 (parenthesis, Barth paraphrased)