Need Blog Music?

I finally got around to putting my Hymn Arrangements on playlist.com. So if you have one of those cool little playlists on your blog or website, then pick a tune on the playlist below and click the little “add” button to add the song it to your playlist. Come on, you know you want to! If you don’t have a playlist on your blog, it’s easy to set up. Let me know in the comments and I’ll give you a little tutorial.

While you’re at it, feel free to add some of my original stuff from my newest CD, The Ancestor. It will be fuuuuuuunnnnn! Just do it. Come oooooonnnn, Everybody’s doing itsubliminalmessage:click”add”subliminalmessage:click”add”subliminalmessage:click”add”

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement
(MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement (MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

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.

Episode 12

sn-play

1-012

Alice sat down behind the information desk, exhausted at the end of a full day.  In the early afternoon, a school class had come on a field trip to the library, and Alice was the only one available to give them a tour and read to them.  Then after school let out, one of the local scout troops had come for some merit badge… something.  Somehow it felt like she was catching up on everything else for the rest of the day.  But now it was 8 pm, the library was closed, and the doors were locked.  She slumped back in the chair, tempted to fall asleep right at the computer.

She looked down at a paper next to the keyboard.  She had nearly forgotten about her research on local history.  The sticky note had the names of the books Matt Robinson had brought in.

There was something strange about Matt.  When he had come in the library that morning, he had been dressed in an outfit that Alice would have described as being appropriate for a mountain-man, and he was accompanied by a young kid of ten or eleven.  His attitude had been very direct and determined, though she had assumed that he was a foreigner.  He acted like he’d never seen the inside of a library before, and was very conscious of everything happening around him.

But when he returned in the afternoon, he was Continue reading Episode 12

Roots: The Meaning behind the Music

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Roots

I have decided to release a song a day until the day of the CD release!  The first piece on the CD in The Fourth Day, but since I’ve already released that one, I’ll start with the second track, a piece called Roots.  The recording for this entry is the music Roots, with me telling about the meaning behind the music.  To hear the music without my voice, scroll  to playlist on the sidebar called, “The Ancestor CD,” and click on Roots.

roots

Roots

We often use the term, back to the basics.  When life gets complicated, we say, “Okay, time to go back to the basics.”
What are the basics?  What are the real fundamentals of life?

I have a game that I play once in a while called the “Why?” game.  You can play it alone, or you can play it with others, but the rules are the same:

Start with a question – something simple, like, “Why did I eat Cheerios for breakfast?”
Now answer the question.  “Because I was hungry, and that was the most convenient breakfast food.”  Then ask yourself, “Why was I hungry?” or “Why was that the most convenient food?” and then answer that question.
Keep asking why, and keep coming up with accurate answers (as accurate as your knowledge allows).

I have played this game many times.  Always, no matter what route my questions take, the answers always reach back to the most basic principles of life, and the most fundamental doctrines of the gospel, such as, “Because I am a child of God,” or, “Because life is eternal.”

The real basics are the real answers to every question, and those answers point to the real reasons for our existence.   The root of all questions and answers are in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father is the root of all life.

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Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Conclusion

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Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Conclusion

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talltabMusic is a remarkable thing.  So is the mind and the heart.  Together, these three elements can create beautiful music for all who hear it.  I’ve noticed that generally it is the simpler music that touches people most deeply.  I encourage any who enjoy listening to music to give writing music a try.  The best indicator to tell if you have ability to write music is to notice how much you enjoy listening to it.  The more you enjoy listening to it, the more developed your mental ear is, and the greater capacity your mind has to bring new music to life.  This may be hard to believe, but in my experience, it is true.
talltabMany people, even musicians, may try to convince you that music writing is something you’ve either ‘got’ or you don’t.  Don’t believe them.  This is but a convenient way to make musicianship sound unreachable for the inexperienced.
talltabThe truth is, even the most gifted musicians have developed the capacities we have been discussing, but they rarely know how to explain it, because so much of what is happening in practice is internal.  So they only explain those things which are easily explained – the note values, the time signatures, and the drill techniques.  These are all good, but they are only the technical parts.  I hope in this series I’ve been able to convey some internal ideas that are used in playing and writing music.
That is not an easy task, but I hope my attempts prove helpful in your quest to play and write music, by ear and by heart.

See more entries about playing the piano by ear and writing original piano music

Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Part 20

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Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Part 20

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The Sound Method

talltabThe basic idea of the sound method also works with silence, but silence can be a little more difficult to find in the busy world that we live in.  If the opportunity presents itself, try creating music using only your mental ear while you are in complete silence.
talltab Also, have you ever noticed that when you sit or lay in complete silence – perhaps  shortly before you begin to fall asleep, you can occasionally imagine sounds so well that you can almost convince yourself that you actually hear them?  I don’t think this is anything strange.  As your mind approaches sleep, it will sometimes begin to drift into dreaming before you have completely fallen asleep.
talltab If you ever find yourself drifting off, and are aware that you are doing so, try playing with your mental ear.  You may, on occasion, find that you can make yourself hear music – not actually hear it, but almost hear it.  If it works, you may find that you can create beautiful music, much in the same way you would if you used the sound method.  The only caution with the sleepy method is that if you fall asleep completely, you’ll probably forget what your music sounded like.
talltab In speaking of these methods, I hope not to create the impression that writing music by heart requires some kind of deep meditation or something.  That is not the case at all.  Actually, these sound and silence methods work best if you have already created some of your own music using the basic methods we’ve already discussed.  Sound and silence methods are just a fun way to play with your developing mental ear.
talltab Music is a simple thing that promotes emotion and motivation, and is best created with that idea in mind.
talltab If this method does prove itself effective for you, you may find that it is not difficult to invent a tune while humming during a walk, or whistling while you work.  You will likely find that you can spontaneously begin humming a tune that you have never before heard, and perhaps you will never hear again – unless you have a piano handy.  Try some things out, and you may be surprised how easily you can write original music.

See more entries about learning to play the piano by ear and write original piano music

Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Part 19

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Play by Ear, Write by Heart: Part 19

The Sound Method

talltabThis section of the Play by Ear, Write by Heart series may seem like the strangest, and may give you the impression that I have a bit of a mental disorder, but if you will take it seriously, and try it out, I’m sure you will find these tools as useful for you as they have been for me.  These methods are certainly not necessary, but they can be a bit of fun, and might even help you in creating original music.
talltabYour mental ear is quite powerful.  It is also very sensitive, and can be easily manipulated.  If you have ever been in a situation where you have been surrounded by a continuous and solid noise, such as a loud motor or fan, you may have noticed that any sound that you hear in the distance may be distorted and misunderstood.  If someone speaks to you while you are next to a loud motor, for example, you may hear something different than what they actually said.  This can be frustrating in terms of communication, but if you are trying to learn to write music by heart, a loud and constant sound can be a great tool.
talltab I should clarify that I am not speaking of loud music or loud rhythm.  Those will prevent the very thing you are trying to accomplish.  I am speaking of a constant sound, such as the hum of a vacuum cleaner or the crashing of falling water.
As you listen to the sound, listen carefully.  Listen intently and try to hear more in the hum than what is really there.  When you feel as though you might be able to hear echoes of other sounds emanating from the hum, let your mental ear play with it.  Imagine that you can hear music in the hum.  Imagine it with as detailed as you can.
As your mind begins developing a tune, repeat it over and over, until you feel confident that you won’t easily forget it.  Then, go to a piano and try to play it.   This may or may not work, but when it does work, it can be a fun way of inventing a piece of music.
talltab Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged when your attempt at playing your imagined music on the piano doesn’t sound nearly as good as you remember hearing it.
talltab Your mental ear has much more skill than your hands do.  Your mind can play entire orchestras with every little detail.  After all, consider a piece of music that you’ve heard dozens of times.  Can’t you hear the tune in your mind with all the little instrumental details?  That is your mental ear playing back a piece of music.  This same format can be used to write a whole new piece of music that has never been heard before by anyone.
If you can come up with a basic tune this way, allow yourself time to learn to play it.
talltab You’ll also find that a tune is MUCH easier to remember once you’ve played it on the piano (however inadequately), because sometimes when you come back to a piece you can remember the fingering better than the tune.  That’s all right, since as soon as your fingers do their work, your mind will recall the feelings and notes of your original music.

See more entries about learning to play the piano by ear and write original piano music