Strike Up the “Band”

Lately I’ve been doing bits of recorded music for the Sunday services at my local Unitarian-Universalist church. Before the pandemic (and before the lovely woman who was our pianist died) I used to play cello in services from time. I even banged out a folk song on piano a couple of times while bellowing tunefully. (Whether our interim minister liked what I did to the Leonard Cohen song, I never dared ask.) But Covid has sent many of us off in new directions.

The church is now equipped with some very nice audio-visual gear, including a large screen behind the pulpit onto which the non-live portions of the service appear. For those watching at home on Zoom, of course, that’s the whole show. I won’t claim it’s an ideal way to present music, but it offers some real advantages, including the opportunity to prepare original music at home, add visual content, and upload the video so it can be Zoomcast during the service.

I’m not the only member of the congregation who presents music from time to time. These performances are called, collectively, Gifts of Music. We have a few talented people in the congregation, but so far I’m the only one whose Gifts of Music are new compositions using synthesizers. Today someone suggested that I make my work available online so that people can return to it if so inclined. So here we are.

This was my Gift of Music a month or two ago. I don’t think the piece even had a title, it’s just sort of a dreamy thing.

I do recommend listening through a good, high-quality stereo system. You’ll hear more detail than was audible in the sanctuary, where the bass doesn’t come through well and the room acoustics tend to swallow some of the quiet counterpoint.

This morning a woman in the congregation read a poem (while physically present, I suppose I have to add) over my recorded backing track. Here’s the backing track:

Next week I’ll be doing a lay sermon on the unlikely topic of Tarot cards. I’ve done a video collage of a bunch of cards, over another piece of my own music. Maybe I should keep it under my hat until after the service, but maybe uploading it a few days ahead of time will inspire a few more people to drop in for the service. (It’s April 24, in Livermore.) I won’t upload the text of the sermon itself until afterward, but here’s the meditation moment:

I’m also doing some hymn accompaniment tracks for the services, but those are less interesting, unless perhaps you have a copy of the UU hymnal handy and want to sing while doing the dishes. I doubt I’ll toss them into this particular potpourri.

What I’ll record next month is anybody’s guess. It’s nice to have an excuse to do some music that someone will actually listen to. I don’t ask for much more than that.

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