Kimbrough: In You, Lord, I Refuge Take

Wendell Kimbrough has appeared in this blog before. Indeed, this song has appeared previously. But for this Palm Sunday I wrote a choral part for his setting of Psalm 31 that I thought deserved a new entry. As you’ll hear on the recording the flute introduces the melody and plays a tag after each verse. Then on verse 3, the flute plays a descant on top of the singing. In verse 4, everyone cuts out but the congregational melody and an a cappella choir accompaniment. It’s really a nice effect, if I don’t say so myself.

The thing I like about arrangements like this is that they’re pretty simple, with just two pages of music, but they have a lot of impact on how you hear the song.

Extra bonus recording: Me singing Sydney “Lord of the Dance” Carter’s song “Bitter Was the Night.”

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O Sacred Head, duet

It’s time to catch up on recordings from Holy Week. Let’s start with “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” the quintessential Passion hymn. Knowing that I’d have my go-to flutist Kristen Zoetewey playing on Palm Sunday–and never being one to miss the opportunity to gild the lily–I decided to write a fancy introduction for the hymn. Once I got into it, I realized that I could add a second part, and that my go-to recorder player (recordist?) Cal Stapert would be there to play it.

Voila! A fancy pants intro for a classic hymn. Don’t zone out–the duet comes back as a descant on verse 3.

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Deep Calls to Deep

greg_precisionAfter Easter, I often feel the need to shun my to do list, taking a little time for renewal and creation. (Hence the term, “recreation.”) This Eastertide it took the form of an idea for bass that came to me last week.

I had just gotten some work done on my trusty Fender Precision bass down at North Coast Guitar Co, and it was feeling great. That always leads to new musical ideas. The ideas kept swirling around in my head and finally came to full fruition this afternoon in the form of “Deep Calls to Deep.”

Because the whole recording is just bass, my boys and I were trying to think of good names for the song. “All About the Bass” is already taken. “Big Bottom”–also taken. I decided to take the high road with a phrase pulled from Psalm 42.

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Blue Step (with guest soloist Stephen Brown)

Stephen Brown and I have been collaborating for decades, so I was really pleased that he added a sax solo to my recent song, “Blue Step.” Now that we’ve got the DropBox sharing kinks mostly worked out, I hope you’ll hear more collaborations in the future.

(Stephen also showed me how the HTML code for the snazzy audio player above. It turns out that only neanderthals use plain old links anymore.)

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O Sacred Head, descants

I can’t let a Holy Week go by without writing a little something, right? Here is a double descant that we’ll use as the intro and over the third verse of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” on Palm Sunday: MP3, PDF.

“Didn’t Bach already write that?” You ask. Why, yes, he did. But he wrote it over a different harmonization, and I just didn’t feel I could ask my pianist to learn one more thing for that service. (She already has 21 songs to learn. Ouch!) But my flutist is always eager for a challenge, so I figured I’d give her one.

It should be noted that this is pretty flexible. A flute and tenor recorder can play it as written, or two violins could play it, or the flute could play the top part without the recorder, or one instrument could start on the second part on the second to last verse and finish with the top part on the last verse, or…

Feel free to send me recordings so I can hear what you came up with.


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Minimoodles–for minimalist doodles–is a quickly conceived name for a quickly created recording of layered guitar riffs. Nothing earth shattering. On the other hand, it led to a good discussion of minimalism with my sons and a sampling of the first Knee Play of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach. That’s got to be worth something.

Listen to Minimoodles.

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Kimbrough: Mighty God

I don’t usually post other people’s music, but I’ll make an exception here. Actually, I had a small hand in this, as it’s a collaboration of Wendell Kimbrough (, Ludwig van Beethoven (no website), and me (

Wendell used the “Ode to Joy” melody from the 9th symphony and wrote words based on the post-communion prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. Then he added an “Amen” that is simple, but just right. My only role was to provide the verse chords from a previous “Ode to Joy” arrangement. Role up all the ingredients into one, and you have a tasty musical burrito served fresh by the Guitarchestra: Mighty God, We Thank and Praise You, MP3.

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Psalm 137: By the Babylonian Rivers

By the Babylonian Rivers” is one of my favorite songs from Global Songs for Worship and one of my favorite Psalm settings in general. We used it at COS last week and I decided that the line “Lord God, hear your lonely band” fairly demanded an instrumental interlude. I wrote one, and Kurt (accordion) and Emily (violin) took it home: MP3, PDF.

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Rock Riff

Before the rest of the staff arrived this morning, I was trying out my ESP Strat copy, making sure it was ready to sell.

It is. In fact, it’s sounding fine and has all the characteristic bite you’d expect from a Strat. Then I got carried away and began riffing with different settings on the amp and pick up. Voila! A 39 second rock and roll bon bon: MP3

(Did I mention that I’m selling the guitar on this recording?)

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Blue Step

I’ve had two failed attempts at getting together with some friends to play through some of my jazz charts. Right before the first attempt I thought, “You know what this world needs? Another jazz chart!” So I answered the world’s great need with a quirky blues tune: MP3, PDF. (Please forgive my miserable one take solo.)

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