There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

random reads

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

Screwtape Proposes a Toast, C. S. Lewis

7/4

I've been working on a list these days of contemporary songs written in 7/4 time. Maybe you've never heard a song in 7/4 before-- or maybe you know one of the following gems but never bothered before to count along and discover it was only getting seven beats to the measure:

"Money," Pink Floyd
(parts of ) "All You Need is Love," The Beatles
(parts of) "Paranoid Android," Radiohead
(parts of) "2 + 2 = 5," Radiohead
"St Augustine in Hell," Sting

(Well, that's my list so far. Anyone got some more suggestions? Apparently there're a number of Rush tunes written in 7/4 time, but I've never really been much of a Rush fan, so I couldn't say.)

But as far as time signatures go, I find something really haunting in this strange, 7-beat rhythmic rarity. It doesn't jump out right away, but it niggles at your heart while you listen. You know something's not quite right- not all there-- or maybe too much there- didn't that last phrase start too soon? or the next one too late? But the song just seems so at peace with itself, so assertive and calm, making no apologies and offering no explanations, that you just figure it must be you.

And the shortness of my list makes me wonder a bit about how dull and repetitive contemporary music-- and perhaps especially contemporary Christian music--has become. This is not a typical tirade against the vacuity or insipidity of today's Christian Music. I've read those tirades before and often they just come across sounding mean-spirited (as do the defensive comments they generally illicit). It's really just this: there is such a rich trove of musical possibilities waiting to be mined and cut and polished and offered to our Lord in worship-- 7/4 times and 5/4 times and microtonal scales and whole tone scales and who knows what else-- that sometimes it seems a shame we so readily settle for the same 3 chords and the truth in cut time.

I was thinking about all of this a few years ago, and working on a song about Bible's use of the the number 7, and I got wondering: what would it be like to actually write it in 7/4 time?

I wouldn't want a congregation to ever sing it, but here's my own 7/4 contribution to the list (I also sampled some Gregorian chant and played the solo on a Peruvian Zambona to help me make my point about musical diversity).



Seven
Seven stars in your right hand
Seven lamps at your feet
Seven thunders in the heavens
Seven, the number of your majesty

Seven bowls of your judgment
Seven seals of your mystery
Seven trumpets of your justice
Seven, the number of your victory

Perfect in grace, prime in glory
Holy your name, pure your love

Seven colours in your covenant
Seven seventies your mystery
Seven feasts to remember you
Seven, the number of your love for me

Seven times in the Jordan
Seven times to deliver me
Seven the number of your purity
Seven hours on the cross for me

Perfect in grace, prime in glory
Holy your name, pure your love

Seven, the number of your purity
Seven seals to your mystery
Seven, the number of your victory
Seven hours on the cross for me

Perfect in grace, prime in glory
Holy your name, pure your love

Seven, Seven, Seven, Seven

PS-- I realize that technically, Jesus was on the cross for longer than seven hours. But what got me is that, taken together, the gospel accounts suggest that he was alive on the cross for six hours, after which (i.e. at the start of the seventh hour), he gave up his spirit.

7 comments:

Luke said...

This isn't a fully 7/4 song, but Matt Redman's "Breathing the Breath" has a portion of the song in what I think is 7/4 time.

Luke said...

(starting at 2:48)

nomij said...

Loved that song! I don't know how I feel about 7/4 time, it takes a bit of getting used to for me. But I did find that I was tapping on my computer and counting along! I may have to listen to it a few more times....
Why did Luke say that it isn't a fully 7/4 song?

nomij said...

I wonder what 7/3 time would sound like...
niggles :D

Luke said...

Sorry for the confusion, Naomi! I meant that Matt Redman's song isn't a fully 7/4 song. The song is mostly 4/4, but then jumps into 7/4 for one of the choruses.

nomij said...

Oh good! I thought you meant Dale's... I wondered what I was missing!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dale,

This is Isaac Gross from David Miller's Greek Exegesis class. Stumbled across your blog. I don't know if you know Dave Matthews Band very well, but they have two songs in 7/4 that I know of. One is called "Fool to Think" on the Everyday album and the other is "Seven" on their recent album
"Big Whiskey." Just to warn you, seven is a pretty dirty song . . .

Nice blog by the way