"Zamar Bazaar"    [ 04 ]   
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Apr 2015

 Tom & Jessi P&W band

A week or so ago, my middle daughter and I shared the stage as adult members of DBCC's praise & worship band. (Desert Breeze Community Church) She had sung before, of course, in high school plays and special Youth services at church, but this marked the first time we joined forces as peers. Jessica ~ my little Cricket ~ sings beautifully. She also composes gorgeous melodies on piano, but prefers to sing if given the choice. I have been playing with church bands since 1986, but do not sing behind a microphone. (Trust me, this is for the best) I dove into this sort of service a full ten years before Jessica was born, so after all this time, it is a precious thing to consider our lead vocalist during a set and find my own flesh and blood there.  :-D  What a fantastic way to praise God!

This week's setlist consisted of five P&W songs from the realm of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Some churches still run with old-style hymns — we even dust off a few every now and again — but mostly we just play newer CCM tunes. For my part, I strive to emulate them note-for-note. Our worship leader occasionally challenges us with different musical interpretations allowing for any number of instrumental sound and style changes. But for the most part, we usually nail every tune we take on, varying primarily in the sound of our lead vocals. I will list this week's songs below (with YouTube lynx just for kicks) along with some 'musician notes' at least from this keyboardist's perspective. Of all the musicians who help regularly rotate through our band roster, only three people in our 1,000+ member church have stepped up as dedicated keyboard maestros ~ I imagine Josh and Rachel's notes are similar . . .

"Make a Joyful Noise (I Will Not Be Silent)" (David Crowder band)
  We 'funkify' this tune much more than this video, with me playing a Hammond B3-sounding organ patch, poppin' throughout, with sliding riffs and wobbly trills ~ a great opening praise song!
"Heaven Fall Down" (Phil Wickham)
  Most of our select P&W tunes are guitar-driven like this one, but soft-synth chords back up each verse and a bit of a piano solo carries it @ around the 3:10 mark; we play the intro in sort of a U2 "Where Streets Have No Name" way .. .
"Everlasting God" (Lincoln Brewster)
  Has a coolio synth effect, though I usually play a sweet rock organ patch in spots throughout this song; this week I primarily played piano in the background.
"Sweetly Broken" (Jeremy Riddle)
  Normally not much of a keyboard tune; however, I was asked to lead and carry it this week with stylish 1·3·1·5 arpeggios (±variations) with a soulful piano patch - very nice..
"Relentless" (Hillsong United) [WARNING: seizure-inducing video ~ I recommend setting this one to play, then jumping to another window – seriously]
  I didn't bother trying to mimic the random-computery-sounding ELO-synth intro (it's subtle in the background anyway), but the synth really kicks in @ the 0:37 second mark and rocks throughout!

Most folks are surprised to learn that the Bible indicates seven distinctly different ways to praise and worship the Lord. When Psalms declare "praise the Lord" or somesuch, a specific type of call to worship is usually indicated in the original language, lost in the translation into English. Here is a rough overview of these seven different types of worship, briefly defined after each Hebraic word:

Yadah  ~ To extend (or even fling, as in casting) the hands up in exultant praise
Barauch  ~ To kneel or to bow in reverence; bowing before the Lord in joyful submission, adoration, and praise
Halal  ~ To make a loud show or boast, to celebrate the Lord's goodness and sovereignty by speaking it loudly / to be clear, to shine, to boast, show, to rave, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish
Towdah  ~ Similar to 'yadah', raising one (or both) hand(s) high, as in agreement and/or affirmation; to declare, affirm
Zamar  ~ To sing with instruments; to play a musical instrument for the purpose of praise and worship
Shabach  ~ To shout in a loud tone, proclaiming God's glory, triumph, power, mercy and love with boisterous shouts (ie, testimonial praise)
Tehillah  ~ Spontaneous effluence of verbal praise; impromptu singing and worship of God (singing as opposed to 'halal')

Ready resources on the web (like this one) provide much more detailed examinations of these terms, their root meanings and expressions. Though meanings or expressions can cross over from one to the next a little bit, the purpose is all about expressing praise, glory, and honor to the One who created and rules the universe. However, the last one I have listed here, 'Tehillah', is a more specific type of praise, that which God 'inhabits':

You are holy, O You Who dwell in the praises of Israel!

—  Psalm 22:3 (Amplified) 

This kind of praise to God is spontaneous and exultant, usually expressed as an irrepressible response to something wonderful the Lord has done, or as a natural reaction to His particular revelation in your life, heart, mind, or soul. Don't for a second think that you have to be inside a church to express such adoration to God. (He is omniscient, after all) One of the most profound moments of this sort of spontaneous overflowing praise hit me while driving from one teaching appointment to the next in southern Arizona years ago. A sunset so radiant, lush, intense and other-worldly filled the sky and the clouds over the cliffs beyond the desert, I couldn't tear my gaze away. So, rather than wrecking my rental car, I stopped on the roadside to simply bask in this incredible beauty. I'm not one given much to tears, but I found myself welling up with such an overwhelming sense of God's amazing sovereignty, His astonishing beauty in creation, and a sense of His Peace cascading over me like a waterfall of light as vast as the shimmering sky pouring out as if from the throne room of heaven... Moments like these elicit Tehillah praise from the depths of one's soul - spontaneous interactions with the source of all life, the Creator Being Himself, that it is difficult to put it in words . .. something you have to experience for yourself, really . . .

Anyway... on the calmer side of things, I'm all about Zamar, having specialized in musical accompaniment for most of my life, as well as composing a number of original pieces back in the day. My own material was never intended as CCM backing music; more like instrumental scores in the tradition of Windham Hill or Narada releases. (Click on the Treble Clef in the upper right corner of this website to check it out, if you want) Yet over the years, a few P&W tunes have risen to the top as favorites of mine to play with a band, some of which listed after these example score sheets:

   "Sinking Deep" pg 1    "Sinking Deep" pg 2  
 
"Cannons" (Phil Wickham)
  Light & busy piano throughout I play note-for-note; starts after the intro chords @ the 0:28 second mark
"This is Amazing Grace" (Phil Wickham)
  The opening synth riff is repeated throughout, featuring a number of other motifs that are especially fun to play when I have double-racked keyboards ('PWM Lead' 4·E·7 on our Yamaha)
"Let It Be Jesus" (Christy Nockels)
  This slow-burn song is driven by a redundant piano riff that runs throughout, but it is such a nice sound . . .
"Sinking Deep" (Hillsong)
  Driven entirely by piano, this tune may not sound like too much to worry about at first, but it is busy, intricately syncopated, allows for * no * misplaced notes... and just does not let up, techinically speaking. Until I play it live a few more times, this is currently one of my most challenging songs I am required to maintain proper tempo and everything. (Hello, click-track!) As is usually the case with CCM, there are any number of versions available on YouTube, mostly concert recordings, an 'official' and/or lyric videos. I play it note-for-note per this live rendition, capturing (I hope) the thoughtful groove of this ambience.
"Carol of the Bells" (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  A few years back, our worship leader got the brilliant idea to open each Christmas service with this powerful rendition of the holiday classic. It is instrumental only, featuring solo moments for each player. For keys, this starts with driving piano octaves @ 1:15, then really takes off from 1:33 to 1:57 with a sharper synth voice. Right. Jumping from one keyboard to the next on a stacked rack is no trouble, but maintaining entirely different rhythms with each hand is, for me, particularly challenging with this song. I don't know why! I have played more elaborate pieces over the years (even composed some) but I have always had a tough time with 'Carol of the Bells' for some reason... Happy to report that we nailed it! But I'm in no hurry to do it again .. .  :-)

God blessed our family with some musical abilities. All three of my girls can play piano to a certain degree and sing like angels. My own limitations will forever keep me hanging out behind the keyboard somewhere, and I'm perfectly content with that. I've been doing this for nearly 30 years now in various churches, and it still feels just as fresh and exciting today as it did in the 80's. I just look forward to more moments like these when, as a family in part or in whole, we can play together, leading our extended Church Family in praise and worship of our lovely heavenly Father!

 DBCC Keyboard

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