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If I Were A Musician

Thursday, August 29, 2013

If I Were A Musician

I’m not a musician. I played bassoon in high school band and took four years of piano lessons, but that is the absolute extent of my musical career. Well, I guess I did technically write a song in 6th grade (as a school assignment). I called it “Mark’s First Symphony,” and it was a 45-second long ditty on the piano (that I was unable to play).

But that doesn’t stop me from making mental masterpieces. Every once in a while, I feel a particular moment of inspiration, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to make an album like (insert whatever my inspiration was)?” Sometimes I even wish I could climb up on top of a mountain and scream out whatever my idea was in the hopes that some talented musician with a like mind could see the genius to the idea and carry it out. But I digress…

My most recent masterpiece was inspired by CS Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, which I read earlier this month. Amazingly, I had managed to survive for these twenty-something years of my life without having ever read it before, but even that made me appreciate the book more. As I was reading it, the thought crossed my mind, “You know, as much as I love Heath McNease’s gorgeous CS Lewis-inspired The Weight of Glory album, he really needed MUCH more than one song dedicated to Screwtape.” Indeed, even one CD would not be enough. No, it would need to be a double-album, with one song dedicated to each of Screwtape’s 31 letters. What type of music? Well, I can’t really say. It would really depend on the tone of the specific letter. Hard rock seems the most appropriate seeing as we’re dealing with dark and serious subject matter. I’m sure metal could sneak in there somewhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the letters would demand a heavily electronic, hip hop/rap, or even light acoustic treatment. In any event, the music would have to be progressive. In keeping with the spirit of the book, the song titles would simply be the same as the chapter titles in the book, and possibly a short subtitle to hint at the general theme of the letter (“Letter 1: Art of Distraction,” “Letter 2: Using Christianity,” etc…). Much of the lyrics would probably be direct quotes, and such quotes would probably be presented in a spoken-word style similar to meWithoutYou, but it would also have to have sung verses too (most songs would probably be absent a chorus). There would need to be no fewer than three vocalists, I think; one male, one female, and one rough vocalist. And if Wormwood were to ever speak/sing, he would need to be a child.

This is just one of the ideas I’ve had, and not even one of the more ambitious ones. Once, I conceived of making a band with some Greek name that I can’t remember (something to the effect of “Theology,” only in Greek), which would make a trio of album trilogies, one trilogy theme around the events of the bible, one themed around the history of Christianity, and one around famous theologians (and heretics). But all that aside, I know I can’t be the only one who has ever mentally conceived an ambitious musical masterpiece with no means of making it a reality.

So let’s hear it! If you could make any musical project, what would you make?

-- Mark Rice

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1. JJ+Francesco said...

I could actually live with making a Screwtape-inspired album. Screwtape has a lot of thought-provoking topics that modern Christianity seems to have forgotten in it's sea of happy "safe theology" that seems to think that the devil is only at work in people who do things that we think is evil.

Ultimately, though I'd likely have a lot of special projects I'd like to do, I'd probably be content to simply do what other artists in the industry do: preach the Gospel. But since my religious background isn't a common one in CCM, I'd probably be quite the controversial artist. :P

But hey, we'll see if I ever become a published author, I can still create my own form of art that will give me potential outlets for expression.

2. Jon+Rink said...

I would love to see Project 86, Pillar, and Icon for Hire come together and make this.

3. Christian said...

Me and my brothers are all fairly talented musicians. I play acoustic and electric guitar, bass, ukulele, piano, banjo, and sing. While my brothers combined play, electric guitar, bass, piano, ukulele, and drums... If ever we were to make a band we were contemplating calling it 'Ode to S.O.S.'(SOS being Song of Songs :P) And our first single would be called Frolicking Fawns :P.... Completely Biblical... but somehow I don't think that Christian market would receive it well

4. Michael said...

I've thought about doing these types of projects in the past. Being a musician, I imagine these projects in my head constantly. My most recent one is a worship record based on the core ideas I got out of the last church camp I ever went to. It'd probably be called Church Camp and it would revolve around the concepts of consecration, repentance,surrender, getting the most out of living for God, God's calling, Godly fellowship, The Holy Spirit, Using every opportunity to share God's love, Keeping the motivation alive, and using the gifts God gave to further His kingdom. Musically, it's a mix of cinematic sound and large instruments combined with minimal electronic elements. In other words, kinda like the Paper Route of worship music. It's just an idea floating around in my mind, but I'd love to get around to doing something like it one day.

5. kevin+harro said...

I like these ideas, (especially Screwtape with Project 86). I agree with hardrock because several christian hardrock albums have musicians as actors of empty/questionable/evil perspectives. One groundbreaking example I still love is The Funeral of God by legends Zao. And I also love rewriting lyrics to the music like here Showbread: "Your Legacy is like peotry. Why! Your mouth is like a magazine! Keen dependency is flowering. Wormwood is confused. Wants us vacant, unsubmissive. We'll praise through his abuse. Virtue is my C O 2. My greedless heart's unjaded. Jesus - My Foundation as sins eviscerated! My Spine Eternal, Living Water in my veins! Hey Devil, what's your offer? I'll be laughing in your face! You cough an offer up and forget which words aren't lies. Then your skull echoes a singeing pop as your brain is cauterized!" But if I could make any musical project it would be like the christian heavymetal lately that has extra instruments (Celestial Completion, Aletheia, Wait for the Siren, Rescue&Restore) and complicated to try to follow (Extol, Kekal, the Chariot) and what I would I make? Covers of Handel's Messiah and Le Miserables!

6. M+Rice+(JFH) said...


had Project 86 in mind more than any other artist as I thought through it, but it would need more diversity. If DC*B and P86 could have a musical child, with a Flyleaf aunt and Derek Webb uncle, I think that would be close to the sound I imagine...

7. Sean said...

I honestly don't know. My first thought would be to write a concept album that tells a coherent story, since I've been frustrated by listening to "story" albums whose narrative I can never figure out because of too much ambiguity in the lyrics.

I don't even know what genre I would do. Alt rock like Classic Crime and House of Heroes (most ESPECIALLY House of Heroes) and their influence would be huge on whatever I wrote... but so would bands like Underoath and Nine Inch Nails. How those influences would resolve themselves in music would interest me.

8. Chris said...

I'd make a classic 80s metal record. Oh, wait! I've already recorded it and will release it very soon!

9. Jon+Rink said...

M+Rice+(JFH), I think that maybe a better female-fronted band other than Icon for Hire might have been better. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Icon for Hire, but I think a band with a little more experience would fit the mold better, maybe Flyleaf, (with Lacey on vocals,) Fireflight, or even BarlowGirl if they were still around.

10. Jon+Rink said...

*different female-fronted

11. Tim said...

I think Emery and/or Showbread could do amazing things with that; both artists can get away with lots of styles. I would maybe lean more towards Showbread cause it really seems like something Dies would dive into and do an incredible job. As for woman vocals, I've been liking Arial from Icon For Hire lately!

12. karinaKMJ said...

It it so nice to see that the people who love the same music as you love (christian alternative and ccm) are also inspired by the same philosophers and writers as you :).

"The Screwtape's Letters" is the greatest book I've ever read. Only "Confessiones" by Augustine of Hippo can be compared to this pretty little one ;]... of course, I gotta say one thing here: The Bible is not to be compared to anything. C.S. Lewis is EVERYWHERE in today's christian music ("This Is Home" by Switchfoot inspired by and made for a movie based on "The Down Treader", "My name is Eustace" and the whole C.S. Lewis project by Benjamin Dunn), just like Augustine of Hippo ("Augustine's Pears" by Petra, "Something More" by Switchfoot). And this is a nice thing to see, because these two guys are really my favorite writers.

But if I was making an album based on "The Screwtape's Letters", it would not be anything hard or metal, rather some kind of "indie pop punk" in style of Relient K (their new single "Don't Blink" seems to be really in style of C.S. Lewis - purity, joy of everyday life, and saying "no" to sexy but empty girls), Children 18:3 ("Moment To Moment" seems to be about this teacher and student kind of "relationship" between Screwtape and Wormwood. just think about it: "oh-oh, moment to moment, like every breathe is a step to forever - oh-oh, moment to moment boy, you don't give up, give up, you don't give it up" - sounds like Screwtape explaining the matter of time in human life to someone who doesn't get how important it is, and the last "every choice before you was a challenge to succeed" sounds like Screwtape was saying: "oh well... so, you lost this soul? what a pity... YOU'RE MINE NOW TO silly, tasty idiot!!!!"), early Switchfoot (young Jon Foreman was writting only about how money and being famous means nothing, and being faithful and passionate means everything: this is what C.S.Lewis is all about) or I Am Empire ("Sing" is the most Narnia-like song that probably was not based on C.S. Lewis writings I've ever known). There was also a song called "Noises" by Mike Mains and the Branches: not a well-known song, but it makes you think about "The Screwtape's Letters" and it is also "indie pop punk", not metal or hard rock. There is something in "indie/alternative/pop punk" music that is way more demonic than death metal... it is somewhere in the rhythm and twisted lyrics, I believe.

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