Tag Archives: Music

Creative By Committee: A Christmas Miracle

In this week’s episode of the popular and ongoing “Creative by Committee” series, the fabulous collective musical genius of the roadhouse will be helping The Right Revered Professor Lee (DMA, MA, SPF, Esq.) assemble the musical soundtrack to that most miraculous of seasons, Stressmas. NervousBreakdownmas. Noseefamilymas. Can I get a shout out from all the pastors in the house?

So, I’m looking for three things this christmasy season. First, I’m in desperate and immediate need of choir music suitable for eager and hardworking seasonal choir members of limited reading experience. In token and pledge of gifts to come, I present to you “Child of Peace“, done by our choir last year, freely yours to use this year. Dan, I’m looking your way. Share the love. The lovely, lovely love. If your piece is picked, you will be the proud winner of a complementary set of rehearsal tracks, recorded for my choir, free to use for yours.

Second, I’m looking for hymns, psalms and spiritual songs that have fallen by the wayside, and deserve to be picked up, dusted off, and lovingly reused as either congregational worship or special music, possibly with string quartet. Chad, I know you have some good good in your back pocket for this one. Aly, I’m looking at you too.

Finally, most contempo worship for Christmas belongs in the crap drawer, next to contemporary music for weddings and contemporary music for funerals. If you happen to be in secretive possession of that most elusive of finds, a singable up-tempo modern Christmas song that doesn’t make you want to drink yourself into oblivion and start a fist-fight with the nearest lyricist, then by all means, share.

It is hereby moved and seconded, the motion carries, Creative by Committee is now in season … er … session.

my little babies are all growed up…

So both of my sons have won the prestigious Principal’s Award at their school. Hooray… for Beth, “the good parent”, as some would call her. Ellie can sorta sing, is made for the stage, and all that. Hooray… for Beth.

MY contribution? Here’s a picture of Toby, my 8 year old. At Guitar Center. Playing Crazy Train. I almost cried.

crazy train

crazy train

Cumulative Advantage

A great article in the NY Times about how market rush can influence the popularity of certain songs and artists. In other words, songs become popular because they are popular with a heavily influential group of first movers. Read the article. The experiment they ran is fascinating.

… when people tend to like what other people like, differences in popularity are subject to what is called “cumulative advantage,” or the “rich get richer” effect. This means that if one object happens to be slightly more popular than another at just the right point, it will tend to become more popular still. As a result, even tiny, random fluctuations can blow up, generating potentially enormous long-run differences among even indistinguishable competitors — a phenomenon that is similar in some ways to the famous “butterfly effect” from chaos theory. Thus, if history were to be somehow rerun many times, seemingly identical universes with the same set of competitors and the same overall market tastes would quickly generate different winners: Madonna would have been popular in this world, but in some other version of history, she would be a nobody, and someone we have never heard of would be in her place.”

Read the rest of the article:

Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage? by Duncan J. Watts

A note to my young songwriting friends

Do me a favor. Take that heart-felt emotional ballad you’ve just written, and place it in the hands of a trusted friend. Ask them to read the lyrics, and circle any metaphors they’ve heard before.

Then, cut them out. Do it now. Show no mercy. Think of a different way to say whatever it is you want to say. You’ll thank me 6 hours into the recording session.


The guy

beth orton
photo by Neil Wykes

15 Hymns: Do You Hear What I Hear

My friends, I can’t tell you how wonderful this little experiment has been. I love the music, and I love that you all buy into these kinds of ideas. Thank you all for being a little bit of sanity in the midst of the Christmas madness.

The Dailies sent this in last night, to cap off the 15 Hymns run. Have a merry Christmas everyone, and I’ll see you all on the other side.


photo by orange beard

15 Hymns: Divinum Mysterium

(ed: title corrected based on new info from the comments)

From Rod Lewis:

Hi Michael,
I’m Rod Lewis, a lurker at Addison Road, but have commented a time or two. I’ve attached a submission in answer to your 15 hymns call. I’ve really enjoyed what everyone has contributed so far, and realize that this is nothing like any of the rest, and maybe you’re looking only for vocal music. Thought I’d send this anyway, you can listen, post, laugh, delete – whatever suits your fancy (as they say here in the south).

I’m a prof at a small bible college in Columbia, SC. I teach music theory, applied guitar, and contemporary worship. I also side gig as worship leader at a local church. Married with 3 kids…

The piece I’m sending you is a guitar arrangement of “O Magnum Mysterium”.
So… there it is.


Rod, this is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for – music from people who love music. Fantastic playing, by the way. Can I ask where you teach?

divinmu mysterioum

15 Hymns: Labor of Love

Chad once said something that I will co-opt, and bastardize, to suit my purposes; “Every Christmas song worth a damn was either written 300 years ago, or is ‘Labor of Love’ by Andrew Peterson.” I loved this song from the moment I first heard it on a rehearsal demo for Chad’s Christmas musical a few years ago.

Since everyone else involved in this project seems intent on sending in radio-ready masters of incredible arrangements, I decided to play the contrary, and deliver this thing up, warts and all. I tried to stay with the simplicity of the original song, just alone at a piano in a noisy room, recording the song as it went down. If you want to hear the much, much better version, follow the happy itunes link:
Jill Phillips with Andrew Peterson - The Nativity Story: Sacred Songs - Labor of Love

For the rest of you, enjoy.


labor of love
photo by introspectre

New Music – Travis McClain

OK, Roadies – mark your calendars: Today marks the first musical recommendation from me that is actually from a Christian artist.

Travis McClain is the boyfriend of a sister of a friend of mine. I stumbled onto his stuff via MySpace, and loved what I heard. I wrote him – he told me 5 bucks (+$3 for shipping) would get me his new CD. I stuffed some filthy cash into an envelope, and waited. Two days later, I have his CD.

It’s brilliant. He’s a very talented songwriter, with skills to match. I told him he reminded me of early Ryan Adams (See: Heartbreaker) – he wisely took it as a compliment. The recording quality, although recorded in his kitchen, is very good. Lush vocals, nice backup from Lindsey Yegan (younger sister of Ashley, for those in the know), and wonderful lyrics. Haunting at times, inspirationally reminding at others – it makes me think of how lonely Brooklyn can be. Further comparisons to Joe Purdy. Travis is good people: A wise and talented musician who has yet to be absorbed by the system. Check out his MySpace profile here, and get your hands on this very hand-made record.

Listen to “Central Park” – it’s the song that would have kept me from abandoning song-writing, had I written it.

Class Intro

So, this was kind of fun. I started classes on Thursday, and I opened up my first lecture for “Intro to Music Tech” by playing this video. Picture 20 kids in a room, with the speakers turned on full blast, and this rolling. It was very fun.

I apologize for the compression of the video – it looks awful on the upload.

Also, for any of you interested in following along with the class lectures (nerd!), the whole semester is being podcast.

Pure Audio Drivel

So, today I have to write a whole series of syllabi for the classes I’m teaching this fall. I figured the best way to get in the right mindset would be by creating one minute and 12 seconds of pure audio drivel. Enjoy. Or not.


Those of you who have been following the 30dropframe.com madness will recognize some of the sounds as a straight rip-off from the song 10 days.

The Dailies: Day 2

Just jumping online while we swap out snare drums.

I forget how much of a magnifying glass the studio process is. There are things about your gear that you just live with most of the time, because they aren’t that critical for live playing. Then, when you shine a big old $10,000 mic and two big speakers on it, all of the sudden it becomes a critical problem. Case in point – right now Chris and Rosy are trying to chase down an issue with the snare drum ringing out a little too much. Doesn’t seem like a big problem, but 3 minutes and 280 snare strokes later, it’s the kind of thing that will set your teeth on edge.

The same thing is true of my playing, sometimes. I get away with some sloppy things because the energy of live playing lets me push through it. Now, going into the control room, and listening to what I played isolated out against the drums exposes things that would never get caught live.

Time to woodshed some more.

39 Things I Learned at the 1st Dailies Rehearsal

Next week, Chad, Corey, Rosy and I are loading in our gear to El Dorado Studios for a week to record The Dailies record. I know Chad is going to jump on soon and start whipping the readership of this fine blog up into a frenzie of fan-driven internet buzz, so I don’t want to steal his thunder. I’ll just pass along some of my observations from the first rehearsal.

1) Sometimes it’s harder to work creatively with friends than it is to work with strangers. With strangers, everybody knows their role, because it’s assigned to them by the person writing the check. With friends, we’ve all done so much stuff together, and the dynamic changes so often, that it takes a little bit of push and pull to sort out who does what, who gets to have what opinion, how far to push ideas onto someone else’s part. It’s all good, but it’s also a different dynamic.

2) Over the course of the last few years, I’ve developed a lot of producing and keyboard skills that are specifically used to gloss over crappy musical ideas. “Hey everybody, ignore the pedantic melody and cliche lyrics of the singer-songwriter and listen to this awesome ear candy! Look at me! Look at me!” As a result, being confronted with very good musical material is leaving me empty-handed. I’m going to have to re-learn how to get out of the way.

3) Attention Songwriters: Jesus is not your girlfriend. You are his wife. Get over the sexual reassignment issues, and grapple with that for a bit. Then, listen to “As I Am” when the album comes out, and weep openly at how much better Chad wrote it than you did. He’s good. He’s scary good.

4) 6/8 is not for wimps!

5) There are few things in life as awesome as giving Rosy 4 beats right before before the chorus.

6) I need to learn to make my peace with technology. Getting angry with inanimate objects is maybe the stupidest thing ever. I should reserve my anger for the living, breathing people who build the technology which so thouroughly confounds my attempts at a peacful, zen-like state of bliss.

7) You know that thing where you look over at someone you know, who you’ve played with 500 times, and you think you’ve heard them do everything they do, and then they do something totally new, off the wall, perfect for the song, and it makes you jump back in awe? Corey is just crazy sexy cool on guitar.

8) Air Conditioning is an essential tool for proper rehearsal.

9) So is coffee.

10) Sometimes, the songwriter isn’t the best interpreter of their own songs. Sometimes, someone else in the room has to say, “I think these 8 bars function this way, not the way you originally thought”, and they will be right. Somewhere along the line (since the official end of Toil Nor Spin), Chad learned this piece of wisdom, and taught it to us. That’s a pretty humble thing to be willing to accept.

11) I love playing keyboards.

12) I also love writing charts. This is a nerdy thing to admit, but I really like the process of inking out rhythm charts. It’s methodical, organized, and easily the best way I know of to fully understand a song.

13) Fermat’s Lesser Known 4th Theorum: The amount of time between the start of rehearsal and the emergence of the first dirty joke is inversely proportional to the number of boys in the band.

14) Now is the right time to make this record. 5 years ago, Chad couldn’t have written it. 5 years ago, we couldn’t have played it. 2 years ago, we wouldn’t have wanted to badly enough to bend and flex to make the schedule work. 2 years from now we’ll be so famous that we won’t even answer Chad’s calls. So, now is probably perfect.

15) 3 years ago, I spent an entire Saturday building one single B3 sound on my Triton keyboard. It’s big, beefy, dirty, whirly, and still the most commented on sound I use on that board.

16) Ever seen Lenny Kravitz go into full rock star strut on stage during a live show? That’s how Chad looks while playing bass in rehearsal. He was actually head-banging at one point. To his own playing. On a ballad.

17) So was Corey.

This thing is shaping up to be an epic record. I’m lit on the idea of going into the studio with friends, and playing great tunes in one of the best rooms in town. if you’re wondering when you should start your crazy fan obsession, now would be the right time.

Addison Road Video Podcast: Matty’s Demo

So…here’s the story.

I worked for a mega-church from the day I got back from my honeymoon until last July (that’s 6-and-one-half years). Since then, I’ve been trying to run my production company, Doulos Multimedia (author’s note…ordinarily I’d tag the “Doulos Multimedia” with a link to my website, but it hasn’t been created yet). FYI — Doulos is pronounced DOO-lohs — it’s Greek for “servant”.

When people ask what I do, I usually answer with “Motion graphics for film and TV.”

“What the heck does that mean?”

“Funny you should ask. It means I create graphics that move (hence the ‘motion’) and edit videos for TV shows to promote quacks like this guy, documentaries about convicted former CEOs, and a slew of work for corporate training videos and events.”

When working for Calvary Community, I showcased my work in front of about 6000 people each weekend, so I got a lot of work from people saying, “Who did that baptism video? I need one just like it.” The word-of-mouth thing kept me riding pretty high on the hog (compared to church salaries) until two weeks ago, when I returned from two weeks of vacation — something about nobody doing the work that I could be doing while, instead, I’m tanning on a beach in Maui.

Suddenly, for the first time since I left the church, I’m on the offensive. So…the website is finally getting worked on. Phone calls are being made. And my demo finally got finished.

Cue Rod Serling: “Submitted for your approval: A short montage encapsulating the body of work done by Matty, a struggling artist. If done right, his children might eat this week. Done wrong, he may have to go out into the real world and find out what a music degree from Azusa Pacific is really for.”

I’m not really panhandling here. Just looking for some input from the creative community I have come to know and love as Addison. Feel free to chime in with suggestions, critiques, and dirty limericks.

You can check it out here.

Mike, feel free to edit the post at will. Aly, feel free to edit my grammar.


I have a new favorite site. Chad, fasten your seatbelt. CCMPatrol. They review Contemporary Christian Music. Oh man, do they ever review it. The thing is, they actually like music, and they really do think that it’s possible to do good music in the CCM world. That’s what makes them so bitter (and funny) when bands do it poorly.

Part of their theory of CCM is that most songs today are written by an animatronic robot computer, which follows a strict formula for lyric writing:

The [violent weather metaphor] crashes to the [Psalmy landscape metaphor]
Sometimes I wish I could [Biblical miracle metaphor]
Just like [Biblical patriarch name ]
But I can’t because I’m only a [ man / woman / sinner ]

[ Praying / crying / calling out ] for [ sunshine / silver lining image ]
I want to see the [ positive weather metaphor ]
I want to see beyond the [ negative weather metaphor ]
[ First line of chorus ] + [ song title ]

Oh man, that’s good eats. Enjoy.

(ht: OpenSwitch)