Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

8Feb/140

Take The Red Pill..

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Not sure what to call this... it started as a funky NES chiptune, and kind of morphed into a techneaux/dubstep/art piece. Throw in some clips from one of my favorite movies, a little 808 beat, and there you go. Most everything is done with pretty simplistic square wave synths, nothing really fancy going on there. I used a lot of "slightly" modified waveforms... took a square, and added a bit of noise. It gives it more of a genuine chiptune feel, more lo-fi. There's a few other tricks in there, specifically using square/noise waves and filters to do percussion. I'm still learning, but it came out okay. Hope you like it!

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20Nov/130

“Formulaic” Is a Four-letter Word

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

As I'm listening to Praise and Worship radio on Pandora, I've noticed a trend. It seems like what 90% of the songs are doing is re-hashing top songs from 3-5 years ago. In the secular music world, you don't have 5 artists doing the same song on the radio at the same time, do you? Is the Christian music market becoming so formulaic that all you have to do is cover a few songs, speed them up 15 BPM and add a strong drum track with a backbeat? Does that justify a new recording? Are they really doing anything different? To their credit, there are a few artists who are getting airplay that are playing original songs, not in the "Nashville Standard" sounding format.

It thrills my heart to hear people doing new music for God. As much as I like the standards (and a lot of the "new" standards) it shows much more skill, talent, and calling to produce new worship music that doesn't fit the Nashville radio formula.

Do yourselves a favor, listen to new groups like Starfield, Mali Music, and a slew of others. They are either 1. playing all new worship music, or 2. playing old and new, but with a very unique style.

After a while, even the "tried and true" worship albums get old. You can only listen to so many remakes of "Revelation Song" or "Open the Eyes of My Heart" or "In Christ Alone" or... you get the idea. Those songs are fantastic in their own rights, but let's be real. The original artists pretty much gave it everything they had, and you're not going to top that by trying to recreate that performance. If you're doing a concert somewhere, I can see playing a few songs that everybody knows. But releasing an album of "classics" from less than 10 years ago? No. You're not doing the original artists or songs justice. You know, at some point, Michael W. Smith was an unknown songwriter. He didn't start off with "Place in This World". Chris Tomlin had to sit down and come up with "Indescribable" on his own.

Heck, there are plenty of long-standing groups that don't re-hash songs. Guys like Steven Curtis Chapman. Even though he's from the Nashville area, his music never seems formulaic or stale. He's always writing new stuff, and to top it off, he's a phenomenal guitarist in his own right. Israel Houghton writes a lot of new music as well, and does it in a way that's very fresh. Groups like Salvador, Third Day, the O.C. Supertones, and Audio Adrenaline. They all do worship music (and other thematic music) that's fresh, well done, and unique. You're hopefully not going to hear weak re-hashes of "Holiness/Take My Life" on their albums (unless it's a live album).

It seems to me that almost everybody wants to copy Chris Tomlin, and rightly so. He's one of the most successful CCM artists in the last 10 years or so, even surpassing greats like Michael W. Smith. His band's sound and musical style is very close to U2, even down to the delay-drenched guitar riffs over soaring vocal refrains. The problem is, Chris Tomlin has already done Chris Tomlin (and, some would argue, so has U2). His "formula" (and even singing his exact songs) isn't going to work for every new artist that comes along.

And so, I want to end with two thoughts. First, I don't want to make it seem like all artists are wrong when the redo a Worship song. Usually it's not even their choice, most of that is decided by the record label (which is a whole other rant). But secondly, I want to encourage you, the listener (and those of you who play music, too) to not just re-hash your worship experience. God is so vast, so incredibly complex and unknowable, there's no reason to limit your worship of Him to the latest top 10 CCM hits. He is the ultimate in creativity, and as His creation (and followers), we are called to bring Him glory. Re-hashing music to "make it" in the industry isn't really doing God, or yourself, any favors.

This applies to writers, too. Don't feel like you ever have to write in a specific formula/genre to "fit in" to the market. Write what God has laid on your heart, and that's where you will find Him.

 

5Sep/130

My Guitar Setup

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Some of you may have been wondering what my actual guitar setup looks like, so after some prodding from the Google+ Worship Guitarists Community, I decided to make a short video and explain what I've got and why I'm using it. Let me know if you have any questions.

In my quest to minimize, I will probably be rearranging some of this equipment, but I will still keep an actual amp setup in case my computer crashes in some way. Just wish MIDI controller pedals were cheaper on Ebay! Sheesh.

4Jul/130

Software Dual-amp guitar simulation

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

New track is up! I wanted to see if I could run two instances of Guitarix, for a cool dual-amped sound, and this is the result. I'm using Impulse Response files from Redwirez.

Screenshot - 07042013 - 09:21:33 AM

10Sep/100

Music Looping Hardware

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I’ve been tossing around the idea of looping with hardware for quite a while, basically since I first heard of it a few months ago. It would allow me to perform music with much more flexibility than just me playing a single instrument, and it is a lot of fun, too. I am now at the point where I have to decide what kind of setup I want to use, and work on getting it functional in my setup.

If you’re interested in this kind of thing, there’s three routes you can go: a dedicated looping pedal, an analog tape delay (or equivalent), or a computer with software. Here’s a brief look at the three, and why I chose the last one.

Looper Pedals

These would include pedals by Digitech, Boss, Line6, and a few others. Each company makes a few different models, each with more buttons/features than the last. The two most popular are the Boss RC Series, and the Digitech JamMan series, both of which come in different sizes and with different features.

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