Falling Up

I’m taking a different approach to releasing my music this time.  Instead of writing a whole CD’s worth of music and then releasing it all at the same time, I’m going to release songs as they are written, and then when there is a CD’s worth, I’ll put them together.

This way the music will be available as soon as it’s recorded.

This song was written by Maria Hathaway (Maria Spencer after tomorrow!  Congratulations, Ria!), and I wrote the music for it.  It will be available for purchase soon!

Enjoy!

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Falling Up

Falling Up

Falling Up

Lyrics and Vocals by Maria Hathaway Spencer
Music by Chas Hathaway

Walk to the place
where you can no longer see,
turn your face
to all that’s free,
take a step
into the deep,
fall into light.

Arms will embrace
and you will know it is He.
Call His name, walk His ways
fall into the endless light
of truth
of love
of peace
above.

Walk to the place
where you can finally see.
Gaze upon
Eternity.
Fall into light.

My Musical Journey: The Message

The Message

When I was nine, my sister Ria had piano lessons. Being the little brother, I thought I should be able to have piano lessons, too. To me it looked like fun, and I wanted a turn. So mom signed me up.

A lady in our neighborhood, who was also in our ward, taught many kids piano lessons, and for only $3 a week, it was a pretty good way to go, though I didn’t find out until later what a generous teacher I had to charge such a small fee for those valuable lessons.

The lessons were fun, and I learned all the basic musical terms and skills, and obtained a very basic piano proficiency. By the time I had been taking lessons for a year, however, I was tired of practicing, and after a few weeks of dragging my feet, I stopped going to piano lessons.

Years went by, and I didn’t touch my piano books. They were a thing of the past, and any time I considered playing, I remembered how boring practice was, so from the time I stopped the lessons, I stopped playing the piano entirely.

As a young man of fourteen, I loved listening to music while drifting off to sleep. I would stick in a favorite cassette and let it play through to the end. However long it took me to fall asleep, I would always get completely wrapped up in the music. As I made a habit of this, I soon found that the mere act of turning on music and closing my eyes did something to me. It was as if the sounds were wrapping around me, filling me. I don’t know how to describe it, but that simple, quiet music had an overwhelming effect on my whole system.

It was at that time that I came to a realization of the power of music – just a few simple notes, played at just the right… well, everything! The tempo was perfect, the notes were perfect, played at the perfect volume at just the right moments. What was it about this mix of sounds that drew a person in so completely? Was it the flawless skill of the artist, or was it something independent of the musician? Did the music itself somehow convey the sense of completeness and power that I felt?

Much of the music I listened to was religious music, and the powerful feelings I felt while listening to that music were always accompanied by an intense spiritual high that made me want to be better, do more good, and reach out more to bless the lives of more people. But a lot of the music I listened to was simple New Age music, which at that time was sometimes called Easy Listening music.

One night, while listening to some of this gentle music, I felt something unique – or I heard something, but with my feelings rather than my ears. It was as if someone or something was sending a clear message through while my mind and heart were in such a susceptible state. The message was simply this: “You can give this gift to others.”

I lay motionless, still wrapped in the feelings and power of the music. The words had been clear. You can give this gift to others. What gift? Music? The ability to play music? The feelings that the music expressed? Though the message had been clear, I didn’t know for sure what it meant.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was time to go beyond simply listening to and enjoying music. I needed to make music.

But how? I didn’t play any musical instruments, and my voice was nasally and boisterous. I would have to learn to play an instrument. A flute? A brass instrument? I didn’t have any instruments, and I didn’t have access to any instruments – except…

Yes. The piano. The family had a piano. I would would get out my old lesson books and start learning to play first thing after school the next day.

A Musical Language: Speaking through Music

Here’s a crazy idea – though it’s not exactly a whim, since I’ve had the idea floating around in my head for about eight years now. I’ve always been fascinated with the capacity music has to communicate feelings and convey messages in a way that is often more powerful and effective than written or verbal communication. What if we were to come up with a language that was spoken through music? A system that actually uses notes to communicate detailed information. It would have to be detailed enough that someone could translate the Bible into the language, and yet simple enough that it wouldn’t take years of training to get it. Not a code, exactly, but something between a code and a language.

In a sense, what I’d like to see is someone pipe a tune, and someone else understand the detailed message.

Some ideas have been explored along these lines. Probably the biggest is Solresol, invented by François Sudre in the 1800s, which is simply a language that uses words spelled with different combinations of notes in the basic piano scale. It has its own dictionary and grammar, too.

But I would like to see a language that is more than a code that uses notes for letters. Ultimately, the ending product has to be both beautiful music and a clear message. It has to be as artistic and aesthetically pleasing as it it literary.

While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and make its written form as beautiful artistically as its sound is musically. So in other words, it would be a language that looks like art when it is written, and sounds like music when it is spoken. There would be little or no need for tongue and mouth articulation, as is present in every language I know except Sign.

Mind you, this would be a MAJOR undertaking. If it leaned more toward the side of code, then it would take very careful rules that would maintain beauty and simplicity while allowing a detailed message without taking too much time to convey it. If, on the other hand, it leaned toward the side of language, then it would need its own dictionary and grammar rules.

Just think how fun it would be to write a detailed message, and then put it to music by simply translating it into this musical language. If it was really well made and well planned, such a language could shape the future of composition in the future for thousands of people. It would completely obliterate the question of whether or not it is possible to convey a message using music alone. It would not only supply the usual feelings and subconscious patterns, but it would speak words with as much clarity and accuracy as this blog entry. And if a picture paints a thousand words, this would paint a hundred thousand words.

I have toyed with (as well as started on and off) to create this language/code, but time has limited me from really diving into it. But here are a few rules that I think would have to be kept constantly in mind for it to have any chance of being what I envision it:

  1. It has to sound beautiful – or at least any message spoken would have the potential for sounding like decent music, and in written form, looking like decent art.

  2. It would have to be fairly simple to learn. How many people do you know that can speak Klingon? Sorry, but complex language systems intimidate people, so this has to be fairly simple.

  3. It has to be able to carry as detailed a message as the composer (or speaker) needs to speak.

  4. It has to be able to convey the message in a time-frame comparable to living languages today. (IE it can’t take 5 minutes to say, “I went to the store and bought a burrito.)

  5. It has to be able to be spoken by a single individual without the aid of others. Harmony and chord structures may be used to emphasize, expand, or provide multiple levels to the message, but a basic communication has to be able to be spoken by one person by either voice or instrument.

  6. Just remember the most important things are that it’s spoken and written form is beautiful, and its message can be detailed.

  7. Other elements, such as rhythm or note-length can assist in speaking the language, but they probably ought to be used more in grammar rather than individual words in order to allow the composer or speaker as much creative liberty as possible to compose a piece of music using the language.

So there you have it. Any thoughts? Ideas? Criticisms? It’s a kind of wild idea, but we’re living in an age of wild ideas, and if we pull together, we can make some wild ideas awesome ones.

Lunch Bucket Canon: The Piece that Didn’t Make the Cut

Lunch Bucket Canon

In preparing The Ancestor CD, I had one piece that was intended to go on the album, but didn’t make the cut.  It needs some fixing up, and hopefully I’ll have it ready for publication later.  So it’s been sitting on my computer rotting for a couple months.  Then I realized that just because it’s not ready to sell doesn’t mean I can’t share it on my blog!  So here’s the piece that didn’t make the cut for my new CD.

Lunch Bucket is my daughter’s nickname, and I have a tradition of writing a lullaby for each of my kids.  After writing one for Lunch Bucket, I realized that the melody fits with the chord progression to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. So I made a little medley that is basically a variation on Canon in D, though it’s really Canon in C when I play it.

Oh, and I should tell you up front – this is NOT a solo.  It takes at least three people.  If I ever play this one in an up-close concert, I might even have everyone who can play Canon in C come up and jam along!

Pentatonic Power

If you don’t know what the pentatonic scale is, you are probably familiar with it and just don’t know that’s what it’s called.  I’m sure all of you have heard of Bobby McFerrin, or at least his famous song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy.  But in this fun little video, Bobby demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, and how it is engraved in our minds.  Just for fun, follow along with the audience – you may be surprised at your pentatonic instincts!

When the Night Came: The Meaning Behind the Music

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When the Night Came

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Enos

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

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To hear the music without my voice, scroll to playlist on the sidebar called, “The Ancestor CD,” and click on When the Night Came


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His Rain

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His Rain

rainbow

His Rain
Vocals and Lyrics by Maria Hathaway
Music by Chas Hathaway

I am standing in the rain
In the sparkling drops of rain
I seek the warmth of new light
Beneath the endless sky

I am walking in the rain
In the sparkling drops of rain
Through the clouds I see a new light
A tunnel to the sky

The rain is clean
The rain is pure
I feel it wash away the world
I am new
I am pure
I found His light

I am dancing in the rain
In the sparkling drops of rain
I have found the warmth of His light
Descending from on high

His rain is clean
His rain is pure
I feel it wash away the world
I am new
I am pure
I found His light

I am new
I am pure
(I found his light)
I found His love

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From the North: The Meaning Behind the Music

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From the North

misty-water

D&C 110:11

After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

I have always been fascinated by the history of the tribes of Israel.  They were in bondage, then led to freedom.  But their hearts weren’t right yet, so they couldn’t inherit the promised land.

Then when they did qualify, and were allowed to enter the promised land, they lasted a short time, and then fell back into wickedness.  So they were again taken into bondage.  Realizing their mistake, they repented, and the Lord showed mercy on them and led them away – both to the north and all over the world.

The history of the tribes of Israel is covered in blood, wickedness, repentance, forgiveness, freedom, pride, idolatry, and suffering.  It is a painful history, a sad history, and an inspiring history.

But we are living in the golden age of those tribes.  They are being gathered from around the world and brought into the church.

And sometime prior to the Lord’s return, He will lead the group that fled north back to the lands of their inheritance.  No longer will they teeter on the fence between righteousness and wickedness.

Their final redemption will be complete, and their scriptures, mingled with ours, will prove that the Lord is looking after ALL His people.

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To hear the music without my voice, scroll to playlist on the sidebar called, “The Ancestor CD,” and click on From the North


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Wide as Eternity: The Meaning Behind the Music

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Wide as Eternity

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Moses 7:23-41

23 And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him;

24 And there came generation upon generation; and Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of Man; and behold, the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth.

25 And he saw angels descending out of heaven; and he heard a loud voice saying: Continue reading Wide as Eternity: The Meaning Behind the Music

The Canyon Black: The Meaning Behind the Music

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The Canyon black

Vocals and Lyrics by Maria Hathaway

Music by Chas Hathaway

The Canyon Black is an abridgment of the poem, “The Valley of the Canyon Black,” by Maria Hathaway.  The poem is a parable of the Cain and Abel story.

The song is abridged, but the words to the original poem are written out in full here.

the-canyon-black

The Valley of the Canyon Black

by Maria Hathaway

Where the road follows the path of the stream

dividing the valley with one great seem

there cottonwoods in sunlight gleam

a morning wakes from twilight’s dream

in the Valley of the Canyon Black
Follow this road of dusty cloud

with rocks and boulders well endowed Continue reading The Canyon Black: The Meaning Behind the Music