[NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC]
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
VOL 9, NO 3, Fall/Winter, 2007
© 2007 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.
Table of Contents
The Publishers' Space
The Brass Space
The Lone Arranger Space
The Percussion Space
A Miraculous Catch
Guest Writer's Space
The String Space
Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
St. Francis of Assisi
THE PUBLISHER'S SPACE
by David E. Smith
DESPUB is happy to announce the printing of its 2008 full print catalog. It has been greatly edited and updated with a lot of new materials and resources. The catalogs will be going out in general mailings soon. If your copy doesn’t arrived as quickly as you would like, you may always call and get an advance copy. Following on its heels will be the next version of the CD Catalog (v8.01) early in January. The CD version is updated several times during the year and will soon feature interactive search tools (more on that in upcoming issues.) Of course our websites, www.despub.com, www.churchmusic.biz and www.churchinstrumentalmusic.com are updated constantly for all the latest features.
Be sure to check out the latest items in the Catalog by our writers Dana F. Everson, Richard Cerchia and Billy Madison. In the print version they are in bold and on the web sites they will be under "What's New."
For those looking for selections from the "The Messiah" Curnow Press has two collections for Christmas and Easter with CD accompaniments as well as piano accompaniment in print-they can be found at www.churchmusic.biz. While you are at it additional arrangements are there from DESPUB as well as Light Of The World Music-these include solos, ensembles and large ensemble editions. While DESPUB is primarily a publisher, distributor and dealer of sacred instrumental music, one item you might want to check out is the Easter cantata, "The Crown" by Keith Kunda and Light Of The World Music. Details as to the various product permutations are of course in the Catalog.
River Song Productions has made modifications in its catalog, while Rich Heffler Music and Ken Bauer Productions have added a wealth of materials since the last print Catalog.
We welcome to our marketing the catalog of Pinner Publications which features solos, ensembles and large string ensemble as its emphasis. Their flash card series is a welcome tool for instruction of students. Jay-Martin Pinner, the owner of these fine products, has served as the editor of the "String Space" in "Lines and Spaces®" for years now with insightful articles which can be reviewed in past issues housed on www.despub.com.
Noticeable in the new print Catalog is the expansion of Stockton Music Services featuring the works of Dr. Monty J. Budahl as well as updates on other publishers such as The Salvation Army.
In addition other publishers such as Alfred, Fischer, Presser, Lorenz and Beckenhorst have been added to the already extensive list of publishers we carry to assist as a resource of sacred instrumental music product information. These can be found at www.churchmusic.biz.
You will find an expansion of web services on both www.despub.com and www.churchmusic.biz. There is a direct link to www.churchinstrumentalmusic.com with tools such as "Hot Links" which now give additional information about such series as "Hymns For Multiple Instruments," "Hymnsembles," "and Heritage" as well as catalog downloads and other helps.
Additional sound samples are being added all the time in addition to the inclusion of visual examples of selected works. Most notable is the extensive sound samples that will now be found for items in the Rich Heffler Music portion of the Catalog. You can be assured there will be more to come like the new sound files from Ken Bauer Productions.
For several years now, David E. Smith Publications, LLC has been the exclusive distributor for print music by Washington Music Ministries. In addition DESPUB did the print production for WMM in an effort to make product continually available for speedy service. WMM has made the decision to cease offering their fine productions in print form, whether through DESPUB, any other distributor or even WMM’s own office. As of December 31, 2007, WMM products in print form “will be no more.” They will be available only through the WMM web site as downloadable print files.
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THE BRASS SPACE
by Phil Norris
A Sound Approach to Multiple Tonguing
The primary goal in developing even-sounding notes in multiple tonguing is to get the K notes to sound like the Ts. Since most of us do not use the K articulation as much as the T, it makes sense to give the K syllable a nearly-equal amount of attention.
To begin, I want to advocate learning triple tonguing first and then double tonguing. This goes against most conventional practice, but I’ll give a couple reasons why. First, 2/3 of the triple tongued figure is the T, so there is less dependence on the K sound. Second, I believe from my experience that the transition from triple to double tonguing is easier than the reverse because of the positioning of the K syllable. In going from double to triplet tonguing, there is a tendency to place the K second in the triplet, which accounts for the European method using the order T-K-T.
Regarding the syllables for triple tonguing, the usual order is T-T-K, though it’s common for many horn players to use the European or flute order T-K-T. In the end it doesn’t matter which pattern is used. My preference is for T-T-K, which to me seems more flowing and suited to the triplet than T-K-T.
To accomplish the need for more use of the K, I suggest a three-step developmental process:
Beginning with triple tonguing, take the pattern:
1) Stage 1 - play the first measure with T, then immediately repeat the measure with K, aiming to match the sound of the T as closely as possible with the K. Then proceed to the next measure.
In the initial stage, I suggest the person new to this only work stage 1 for the first couple weeks. Another aid in working the K is to, away from the instrument, blow air and use the imitative procedure of stage 1. The player can also simply blow and tongue Ks.
It is best to stick to repeated pitches at this stage (and stage 2). Scale s are good to use, but just about anything the player will make up is fine as long as the triplet notes are all on the same pitch. Don’t involve scale or interval skips within the triplet at the formative stages. A good goal is to work for a longer and longer string of continuous triplets at a slower speed, working for evenness of rhythm and full, clear tone all through the string. This will build strength and control that over time will naturally result in increased speed.
2) Stage 2 - play the first measure with T, then immediately repeat the measure with the pattern (T-T-K or if preferred T-K-T). A slower speed is probably helpful in making sure the syllables don’t get out of place. This stage can and should be combined with stage 1 as complementary developmental tools.
It’s very important to keep the rhythm very strict at these first two stages, along with even volume and tone. I also suggest longer rather than more detached note lengths, both for the sake of tone and the forward flow of sound (air), yet with firm distinction. As mentioned before, work for increasingly longer strings of continuous notes; this will contribute to speed better than trying to simply play faster. Eventually, the speed of longer strings of triplets will more closely match that of shorter bursts although obviously a single triplet can be played faster than several in a row.
3) Stage 3 - play the pattern without comparison with the T (i.e. normal triple tonguing). This is what most people end up doing in the first place, and with time this will work, but I believe the progress takes longer and may be less reliable and consistent in sound than using stages 1 and 2 first.
Once the triplet flow and speed begins to take place, then smaller interval skips within the triplet and scalar passages can be more successfully accomplished. The faster the multiple tonguing, the more legato the tongue stroke must be, both for fullest tone as well as for speed. Regardless, the tone should be full, clear and melodic.
At the point of relaxation and flow of the triple tonguing, double tonguing can be added, and I think the transition will happen with ease.
A reasonable amount of time to develop this follows what I call the 6-6-6 rule: six minutes a day, six days a week for six months. With this amount of work, multiple tonguing should be well in hand for most players. But without consistent work at early-on, the progress will probably take more time.
As an advanced technique and for periodic maintenance of the skill, I like to not only review stages 1 and 2, but to take exercises designed for single tonguing and do them entirely with Ks, and the more notes the better.
The Arban Method book (available for trumpet, trombone and tuba) has many pages of material for developing multiple tonguing. Sigmund Hering’s book, “Dou-ble and Triple Tonguing,” also is an outstanding book devoted exclusively to this technique. Both books are published by Carl Fischer.
One final note for any reed players who might look at this article - this approach is also a good one for reed players who want to add some articulation cushion to their skill set. I encourage clarinet and sax players, along with brass players, to develop this skill.
Phil Norris is Professor of Music at Northwestern College in St. Paul since 1993. He holds the DMA from the University of Minnesota, MM/Trumpet, Northwestern University and the BME from Grace College. He is also a musician, teacher and elder in his local church.
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THE LONE ARRANGER'S SPACE
by Dana F. Everson
CROSS TRAINING FOR ARRANGERS:
Sports and fitness enthusiasts often use the process of cross training to alleviate boredom, maintain endurance during off-season times without burning out, and as a challenge to their coordination, flexibility, and general fitness. How can the arranger cross train for some of these same kinds of benefits?
Cross Train by Writing for Different Ensembles:
This may sound like heresy in a newsletter dedicated to INSTRUMENTAL music, but consider writing for SAB or SATB choir. Having to deal with different ranges, technical challenges, and words can really stir up your creativity.
Cross Train by Writing for Different Functions:
This may sound like heresy in a newsletter dedicated to SACRED music, but how about writing a family fun arrangement for your next holiday gathering, or family reunion?
Cross Train by Writing for Different Instruments:
This may sound like heresy in a super specialized world, but write for something you have never tried. Okay…so you love writing for flutes, but are terrified of string writing…go for it! Take a look at your past writing efforts and find out what instruments you have AVOIDED in your writing. Perhaps it is time to remedy that.
Cross Train by Taking Up a New Instrument:
This may sound like heresy for you dyed-in-the-wool brass players, but trying something as simple as learning the basic fingerings on an instrument that is new (say, the clarinet) to you can open up mental pathways for creativity. It could also open your eyes to some of the basic trouble spots that clarinetists face.
Cross Train by Writing in Different Styles:
This may sound like heresy in a world where NEW and IMPROVED are the clichés in advertising…If you are used to arranging the old hymns, try adapting an old American folk hymn, or maybe a spiritual, for an instrumental combination that will challenge you.
Cross Train by Changing Some of Your Writing Habits:
This may sound like heresy in a high tech world of Sibelius and Finale, but dig out a pencil from your bottom left desk drawer and some manuscript paper…It may surprise you how this can give you a whole different perspective on your writing. At the very least it will give you a heightened appreciation and gratefulness to God for the technology you have grown used to!
This is definitely heresy to a society driven by self and pleasure and entertainment… Cross Train Your Heart by Following Luke 9:23:
“ And [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Dana F. Everson holds the BME and Master’s in Saxophone Performance degrees from Michigan State University, and a Master of Sacred Music from Pensacola Christian College. He has over 300 published works.To Table Of Contents
The Little Grass Hut The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island.
He prayed feverishly for GOD to rescue him, and everyday he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements and to store his few possessions.
One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames with smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened! Everything was lost!
He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger.
"GOD, how could you do this to me?" he cried.
Early the next day he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approach ing the island. It had come to rescue him.
"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary men of his rescuers.
"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.
Moral of the story:
It's easy to get discouraged when things are going badly, but we shouldn’t lose heart, because GOD is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain, and suffering.
Remember that, the next time your little hut seems to burning to the ground.
THE PERCUSSION SPACE
by Billy Madison
Drummer Jokes Compiled by Billy Madison A little humor is good for the soul. If we can’t laugh at ourselves then who can we laugh at?
1. Q: How do you know when a drummer is knocking at your door?
A: The knock always slows down.
2. Q: How do you get a drummer to play an accelerando?
A: Ask him to play in 4/4 at a steady 120 bpm.
3. If thine enemy wrongs thee, buy each of his children a drum.
4. Two drummers walk into a bar, which is actually kind of funny, because you would think that the second guy would have seen the first one do it.
5. Q: How do you know there's a drummer at the door?
A: Because he doesn't know when to enter.
6. Q: Why are drummers always losing their watches?
A: Everyone knows they have trouble keeping time.
7. Q: How do you confuse a drummer?
A: Give him a piece of sheet music.
8. Q: What is the difference between a drummer and a savings bond?
A: One will mature and make money.
9. "Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a drummer."
His mother scoffs and replies...
"Well, you can't do both."
10. Q: What do you do with a drummer who can’t keep a beat?
A: Take away one of his sticks and make him a conductor.
(Note: My 1st chair trumpet player told me this one in rehearsal one day.)
11. From the Drummers Dictionary:
Accelerando - n. drum fill; solo
Ritardando - n. drum fill; solo
Crescendo - n. drum fill; solo
Tacet - n. drum fill; solo
12. So many drummers, so little time.
Billy Madison has taught instrumental music in the Arkansas Public Schools for 18 years. He holds both the BME in Instrumental Music and the MM in Music Theory and Composition from Arkansas State University. He studied composition with Jared Spears and Tom O'Connor. Madison has played percussion with the Northeast Arkansas Symphony since 1978.
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A MIRACULOUS CATCH
A Miraculous Catch
Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea
Friday, December 7, 2007
During a recent service at the Mumuka Church of the Nazarene in Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea, a woman named Ruth stood to share-in her native language, Tok Pisin-a testimony of God’s provision that took place in another woman’s life prior to the National Women’s Conference in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The woman had decided she'd like to go to the conference, which takes place every two years. In January 2006, a whole year and a half ahead of the event, she told her husband she’d like to go and asked for his financial help.
He said their money is only for their house and food and he wouldn't help her. She responded by telling him of her love and respect. She started praying and saving a kina (U.S. 30 cents) here and 20 toea there (100 toea is equal to one kina). The money went into a bag for saving without being counted.
During the month of October, a year prior to the conference, and after much prayer, she requested her husband’s financial help again. He agreed that he'd go fishing and give her the proceeds. However, he required that she go with him and bring her money bag in the canoe.
They fished from 6 A.M. to noon and caught nothing. Then the husband asked to count his wife’s money. Instead of counting it, he tossed the bag overboard in frustration. She did not retaliate, but again told him of her love for him despite what he had just done.
At that moment, their net filled with fish and they returned to shore with a full catch. The husband told her that she should leave one fish for their family and go sell the rest.
She'd saved the biggest fish for her family.
When it was time to prepare the fish, she took a knife to cut it open. Inside the fish she found the money bag.
Humbled and convicted by this miracle, her husband asked his wife to call the pastor to pray with him. He confessed, repented, and committed his life to Christ. The husband is now serving God and the woman was able to attend the conference with his blessing.
Happy New Year!
THE GUEST WRITER'S SPACE
by Rick D. Townsend
Program Development Fees: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
In the previous two articles in this series, Funding Strategies for Christian School Music Programs; Parts 1 & 2, (online at the DES Website) I described the current state of music program funding. I explained why current school funding conditions are failing to provide basic music learning opportunities at all levels from preschool through college.
During the past twelve years, as I have prepared preservice music teachers, it has become harder and harder to encourage my graduates to teach in Christian schools. I have known that most will be unnecessarily frustrated (in their efforts to provide quality instruction) by lack of materials and equipment. Please keep in mind that I am addressing this series of articles to schools large enough to provide a full range of opportunities for their students without special intervention and a substantial volunteer community (…usually approximately 90 students and above. I am always happy to discuss good strategies for developing quality music in small Christian schools, but that is not the focus of this series.).
Most school administrators assume that their music program quality is adequate because nobody tells them differently in ways they can understand. Further, many of the school administrators modeling strong school music programs today develop programs that lack broad educational perspective – thereby providing models that most administrators do not want to establish in their own ministries. (See The “Royal Conservatory” Plan, from Part 2 of this series.)
I heard a good phrase a few weeks ago – Loyal Dissenter. The loyal dissenter believes in the principle of iron sharpening iron. This has been my posture throughout this series of articles. The detrimental administrative practices described previously in this series are being practiced by my friends – persons who I respect personally and professionally. There are no villains in this report. I believe that everyone is trying to do the right thing, but there are few good models.
Most of our Christian schools have evolved into their current condition from impoverished beginnings. Many schools are still supported by their sponsoring churches almost as a local mission. Where, then, will such schools get the funding for a high quality music program – arguably the most expensive of all the school programs?
The answer is simple, but surprisingly difficult to quantify for administrators who have been, and are still being, trained at the feet of the world’s financial experts. Every quality music program is funded in God’s economy – the economy of faith. In every case, and I do mean EVERY case where a quality music program is properly focused and equitably funded, the Christian school is healthy. In every case, and I do mean EVERY case where a quality (and fairly funded) music program has developed, the administration at some point decided, against the advice of good financial advisors, to move ahead with a strong funding plan in the face of potential deficits. Christian schools can never afford good music. That is one of the sweetest beauties of a quality, fairly funded, Christian school music program. It becomes the embodiment – the substance and evidence – of Hebrews 11:1. This does not preclude good financial strategies. It only precedes those strategies.
One Simple Strategy: The Program Development Fee
In recent years we have been able to convince several administrators to adopt a fresh approach to program funding. This approach, called the Program Development Fee, is providing stable growth for their programs today, and is ensuring that a teacher’s opportunity to teach and that student opportunity to learn is at a high level. Most importantly, this strategy fulfills our final axiom.
Axiom 7: Every successful school funding strategy must provide stable funding every year without taking money from the general fund.
How can we develop a funding strategy that is fair and equitable, providing stability for optimum opportunity to learn and encouraging music teachers to stay with a ministry – but without taking monies from the general fund? A simple solution is to charge the entire school population, pre-K through 12, a small monthly fee to fund a quality program. Income from that fee is then deposited in a separate school account to be used only for music equipment and supplies. This critical criterion – narrowly defined use – provides your music teacher with ready access to adequate funds for legitimate, gradual program development.
In the mid-1980s, while teaching at a small Christian school (100, K-12 students), I had been required to “fundraise” for several months to buy an old, used pair of timpani for my school. A few years later I was able to convince the pastor that an all-school music fee would be a fair, equitable, and stable way to provide for a quality program. He was determined to provide quality music, so we instituted a Program Development Fee in 1988. When I moved to Maranatha the Program Development Fee stayed in place, so for nearly twenty years that school of 100, K-12 students, through thick and thin, and in a lower middle class community, has provided over $8,000 per year for its music program. Parents are happy to contribute to a strong, school-based music learning culture that richly benefits their children and their community. It is a great testimony, and virtually insures that there will always be a good music teacher at the school.
This particular school has always been economically challenged, barely covering teacher salaries every month. The local economy has all but disintegrated and two other private schools have opened nearby, but this school has remained stable throughout with no thought of having to close its doors. Through it all there has been good music. They recently instituted program development fees for athletics, library supplies, and computers, with similar success. This program is now part of the discussion whenever a school calls me to fill a teaching vacancy.
Why Is It Not Universally Accepted?
Some administrators are reluctant to adopt the PDF concept. It becomes a philosophical issue. Not understanding the legitimate costs of music teaching, they are reluctant to establish what amounts to an “unequal entitlement” for one of their programs. It is as though they think the science or history teacher will be unhappy that the music program is strong. Rather than teach the entire ministry that a balanced program means that all groups receive an equal percentage of what they truly need, regardless of the differences in overall numbers, these administrators often define “balance” as meaning “equal amounts to every program, regardless of the program’s actual needs.”
Not understanding principles by which quality attracts and generates more quality, they unintentionally establish a new axiom – If one program suffers, then all should suffer equally. Meanwhile, we have music teachers across the country being asked to function within a $500 annual budget and/or school music families being required to provide the entire cost of the program through unshared lesson and program fees. Then we wonder why so many musical families are home schooling or sending their children to schools across town, or why so few of our Christian college/university graduates end up teaching in Christian schools. These are good dedicated young people, and lower salaries are not usually the issue. It is mostly about equipping them to teach, and about their students’ opportunity to learn.
We’re Not Alone With Our Funding Dilemmas
A recent Detroit News article (http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071005/SCHOOLS/710050413/1004/SPORTS), entitled Pay-to-play saps parents’ wallets, sidelines students, describes a funding system in which public school athletes are required to pay substantial individual fees to participate in sports. Musicians are not alone. The pay-to-play concept has been around for a long time. This particular article describes several unintended, but harmful, corollary outcomes of the pay-to-play practice.
Nationwide, there's about a 35 percent drop in participation when students are asked to pay for extra-curricular activities," said Diane L. Hoff, associate professor of education at the University of Maine, who has studied pay-to-play. "That, across the board, affects students of lower incomes and students who tend to be minority.” (Axiom 5: Every successful school funding strategy must be equitable, providing equal opportunity for everyone.)
…Forcing parents to face such dilemmas is "tragic," said Bill Keenist, who has sent two athlete sons through Oxford High. As a member of a committee that regulates sports for the district, Keenist did an in-depth study that found "concrete data, actual factual evidence, that participation in high school athletics has such a positive impact on the young men and women, both academically, socially, in college and in life. It's overwhelming."
…"Even in my (job) interview, I mentioned that pay-to-play has to go," (superintendent) Skilling said. "I was emphasizing academics, the arts and athletics all being equally important to the holistic development of our students." (AXIOM 2: Every successful school music program must begin as a step of faith.)
I have seen many Christian schools close their doors, but I have yet to see a school fail, at any level, that provided strong academics, fine arts, athletics, and spiritual training. Those are the four pillars upon which every strong Christian education institution stands. Take one away, and the entire structure is jeopardized. The missing pillar in most Christian schools is the music program, and it is missing because it is not prioritized.
Setting It Up
Setting up a Program Development Fee is easy. Divide the amount needed by the number of K-12 students, and then by the number of monthly payments each year. That is your monthly per-student fee. For example, a 200-student school needing $8,000 per year and receiving ten tuition payments per year would need to charge each student $4 per month – less than the change received from many Burger King transactions. Most importantly, every cent goes into a designated fund for the music director’s discretionary use. The administrator never dips into this fund for school emergencies or for staff costs, there are no pizza/candy/knick-knack sales, and the director never asks for additional funding. It is a simple, family-friendly program that is working nicely in several schools today.
How Much To Plan For
A quality music program, even in a small Christian school, requires $5,000 to $8,000 per year, not including the teacher’s salary and benefit package. The amount is determined by the music director’s overall vision. A quality program provides a continually expanding instrumental inventory, regularly replaces old instruments, has a fund to provide special awards and another to help parents finance quality used instruments (interest free), supplements private lessons and camps, provides quality computer equipment for music learning, develops an enrichment library of quality music with equipment to help students broaden their musical tastes, brings in professionals to instruct in a broad variety of specialized needs at no additional cost to students, supports a strong early childhood music program, and provides a host of other services for all the church/school families.
Finally, a quality program provides adequate resources for instructor flexibility when the needs of the students and ministry change – something that can take place several times a year as dictated by family and community events. Although quality programs often benefit from special allocations and private donations, music programs must never be dependent on fundraising, fees, or special gifts for day-to-day music learning opportunity.
Through Program Development Fees and careful hiring, all students can receive the highest quality music training throughout their school years. It is a program that is satisfactory both to parents and administrators.
Begin your PDF this coming year. Your families will thank you. Once Again – The Axioms
Axiom 1: Everyone benefits from a good music program, so everyone shares equally in the expenses.
Axiom 2: Every successful school music program must begin as a step of faith.
Axiom 3: Every successful school funding strategy is the outcome of a music director’s vision becoming a realistic quality plan.
Axiom 4: Every successful school funding strategy must be practical, providing for optimal transference when administration and/or staff changes take place.
Axiom 5: Every successful school funding strategy must be equitable, providing equal opportunity for everyone.
Axiom 6: Every successful school funding strategy must be affordable, providing durability for the sake of tomorrow’s church musicians.
Axiom 7: Every successful school funding strategy must provide stable funding every year without taking money from the general fund.
THE STRING SPACE
Rick Townsend teaches at Maranatha Baptist Bible College where he directs instrumental music and supervises the music teacher education program. Dr. Townsend earned his B.A. from Alma College, his M.Mus. from Central Michigan University, and the PhD from Michigan State University.
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by Jay-Martin Pinner
Writing with Intentionality
An arrangement of a Gospel song or hymn should demonstrate intentionality. It should elucidate and complement the text, it should have an integrated accompaniment and it should have an obvious musical climax. Even a gifted singer or instrumentalist cannot entirely overcome the distractions presented by a poorly written arrangement.
Such an arrangement shackles the presenter with weights of compositional boredom, flippancy or monotony. Serious musicians bemoan this generation’s musical choices for worship, yet we provide only lackluster alternatives. While musical boredom and the resulting lack of spiritual response may result from uninspired delivery, a well-crafted arrangement can move the presenter to communicate directly and profoundly with the listener.
Much of the current arranging of sacred music bears the imprint of what scripture clearly labels “worldliness.” So-called Christian rock and hip-hop are accepted norms for many believers. The philosophy that Christians need entertainment in order to worship belies the Biblical injunction to worship “in spirit and in truth.” The majority of Christian arrangers intentionally write “what sells,” a formulaic superficial “pop and sizzle.” Those of us in the minority should be compelled to intentionally write “what moves.” That demands a determined conscious effort to arrange music that lifts the listener out of his daily cares and leads him into true worship of our great God and Saviour.
String instruments can arguably imitate the human voice more closely than any other instruments. To convey the message of the text it is imperative that a string arrangement be singable. Phrases should rise and fall as naturally as if sung. They should propel the arrangement forward logically and without distraction towards a musical climax, the dramatic high point of the piece. The denouement, the falling away from the climax should then help the piece to unwind, bringing the arrangement to a satisfying close.
Before beginning to work on a piece the arranger should sketch out a framework that incorporates this intentionality. Artists whose medium is paper and canvas prepare preliminary sketches to enhance the drawing or painting of the final work. Composers jot down melodic ideas or score sections of a work as they decide which ideas to develop and which to discard. Arrangers should follow suite and prepare a framework for a piece, sketch out ideas, and write with intentionality. Do the introduction, bridge and modulation carry the listener forward towards a logical and meaningful climax? Will this arrangement help the listener worship or will it “tickle the ears” and merely entertain?
Intentionality begins when the arranger first picks up the pencil or turns on the MIDI.
Jay-Martin Pinner is the Head of the String Department at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. He is an award-winning composer/arranger and manages Pinner Publications, a company that publishes sacred string arrangements. Several of his arrangements are in the David E. Smith catalog.