Monday, July 25, 2005

Sheet Music Notes: Be Thou My Vision

"Be Thou My Vision" is a well-known church hymn and one of my favorites. The lyrics are a wonderful expression of devotion to the service of God. I love the words to this Hymn...

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, thou my true word
I ever with thee, thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I thy true Son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
High King of heavem, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, after victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all.

The melody itself actually comes from an old Irish tune. Scholars debate the date of origin, but generally put it at about the 8th century.

In terms of playing the music, simply approach it with a tone of reverence. Imagine yourself in a very old cathedral, sitting down at a beautiful grand piano. As you play the first few notes, just let them ring out into space. Remember, this is a hymn that was, at one time, primarily sung acapella. So as you play the melody, imagine that melody as a voice, declaring its love and devotion to God.


Friday, July 22, 2005

The Next Album...

I'm so thrilled with how well the new CD is coming along - a lot faster than I expected. I basically have the track list down now, at least, it's a fair approximation of what I expect the final order will be. Here it is...

1) A Delicate Joy
2) The Lion and the Lamb (I'm still unsure about this title)
3) Traveling Light
4) 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
5) Near Eclipse
6) The Water is Wide
7) Taking in the Moment
8) New Song in A (This one is still untitled)
9) A Father’s Dance
10) A Distant Thunder
11) Driving with the Windows Down (?)
12) Morning Has Broken
13) Under the Setting Sun
14) Unending Joy

"Driving with the Windows Down" is actually a very old song that I've tried to record in the studio twice and never been happy with (the song was originally intended for "Sweet Dreams" and then I tried it again for "Overcome"). So I'm not really sure if that track is going to make the cut. I may just let it go. Some compositions just never see the light of day. I'm thinking I might do a new arrangement of my song "Home" (from The Vigil and Whisperings) and putting that in it's place. I play that song quite a bit different than I did a few years ago, and would love to release the new version.

Also, I still have one or two new songs in the works that aren't yet on that track list that might make it in.

I've been really enjoying the summer, musicially. Since I haven't been traveling quite so much I've been able to write a lot of new material. That will probably all end in September when I start traveling again, so it will be nice to get the new compositions under my belt.

This new album is a complete 180 from "Overcome." "Overcome" is such a dark album, and I really like it, but there aren't a lot of "happy" moments on it because of the overall theme of the album and what I was trying to accomplish with it. Most of that album is in a minor key.

With this next CD, though, all but three songs are in major keys. I deliberately wrote the songs in major because I want this next album to be a real contrast to the dark tone of "Overcome." The new album will be much more like "Postcards from Germany" in terms of being upbeat, but it's going to be even better, I think. I can see much improvement in myself as a pianist in these new songs - I'm doing a lot more in terms of embellishment, and it's definitely going to be "happy!"

I can't wait to get it done and release it, but that's still a good nine months away. Still, I'm encouraged by how it's taking shape!


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Sneak Peak...

Film composer Jace Vek, whose music I'm a HUGE fan of, has been working on some orchestral adaptations of my music - basically turning it into film music. We are toying with the idea of a future CD collaboration combining my piano music with his wonderful orchestral touch.

Here's a sneak peak of a "rough" draft.

The Vigil - The Film Version

Be patient, the "orchestra" comes in about a minute into the song. CRANK it UP for best enjoyment. It takes the song to another world. I love it.


Starry Starry Night at Oakway Center...

Ah, one of my favorite things about Summer time! Playing piano at Oakway Center in Eugene!

I just had another gig there tonight, playing out in the courtyard, out under the sun and later the stars of twilight! I so enjoy playing there.

Tonight was interesting, because as it turned out, they double-booked the evening. So not only was I booked, a "Youth Arts" jazz band was booked, too. So I played from 6-7, then the kids band played some classic jazz, then I was back on the piano performing from 8:15-9:15.

It was quite interesting because as it neared the time for the Youth Band to come on, I almost felt like I was opening for them. LOTS of parents had shown up so there were a couple hundred people sitting on the grass there in the courtyard. And there was little ol' me playing the piano while these kids were getting all set up right next to me.

And then 7pm came, and the band kicked into their set. I headed off to the side to visit with my good friend, Matt Haverly, who is also my Cellist. Well, he's not really "my" cellist, but he's the only cellist I know, and a really good one too, so I like to think of him as "my cellist" anyway.
:) Matt and I have done a couple of performances together and I expect to do more in the future.

And while I was visiting with my good friend, the cellist, I had mint chocolate chip ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm. I should have gotten a smaller size, as it turned out.

And then, after about 8:15, I starting playing the piano again until the dark of night set in.

What a very nice evening. :)

If you're in the Eugene area, you should come out sometime when I'm playing there. It's a great place. I absolutely LOVE the vibe there.



Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another Great Weekend with the Fam....

Last weekend, Julie and I took the kids to Sahalie Falls just up the McKenzie River. We've taken Nathan up there a few times before, but this was really Noelle's first trip.

There's some great hiking there, and it's all pretty easy hiking too, which makes it perfect for the kids. The trail goes about a half-mile upriver, crosses it, then comes about three quarters of a mile down the opposite side before crossing back over in a loop. To the right is a picture I took from the backside of the trail. You can see a man standing at the top of the falls. You can walk to the top and just sit there, literally two feet from the water as it cascades over the edge.

In fact, in the picture to the left, you can see Nathan's smiling face with the top of the waterfall directly behind him.

I was so proud of little Noelle! She has just turned two and she pretty much walked the entire trail without any complaints. In fact, she only complained if we tried to carry her! That was, by far, the most Noelle has ever walked at a time. She's a born hiker!

Noelle enjoyed the flowers, too. A funny thing about Noelle, though, we discovered this weekend that she hasn't quite figured out the concept of "smelling the flowers" yet. As you can see just below, when you ask her to "smell" the flowers, she tries to eat them!

The trail was so wonderful! The flowers were out in bloom. And after only about an eighth of a mile up the trail, we suddenly caught the smell of wild huckleberries! They were everywhere, and the smell was as sweet as could be.

It was truly a delightful day.

What a blessing it is to be able to spend quality time with my family AND enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest!

Friday, July 08, 2005

My Day at The Oregon Garden...

A couple years ago this sign popped up alongside I-5 just north of Salem, OR advertising "The Oregon Garden." I've been curious about it all this time and finally, last weekend, I took my family there.

All I can say is, Wow! This place is truly an Oregon treasure! It's a HUGE garden on 80 acres of land and it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

I only wished I lived closer so I could visit it more often. I think I'd go there a lot, just to chill out, enjoy the sun, and take in the inspiration. I liked The Oregon Garden so much I am thinking of approaching them about doing a thematic piano CD for them inspired by the place.

Take a look - you'll find their web site at .

The photos on the web site, while beautiful, are really two-dimensional compared to the real thing. This place is like the Oregon version of Eden.

If you live in Oregon, take your family to visit and support the place. It's $8 admission for adults (kids are free), but it's totally worth the price.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

New Review of Overcome....

This review of my latest CD, Overcome, just came in from Wind and Wire magazine. It's a great review, in the sense that it tells me that I accomplished what I set out to with this album....

CD review by Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire Magazine

For me, reviewing deeply personal albums (i.e., albums that artists record which are intensely personal in nature) is never easy. I have to be sure I can evaluate the music on its own terms, but I also try to take into account what the artist is going through by making music that has its inception in a particularly moving event or person in his/her life. In the case of Overcome, the task is doubly daunting, since David Nevue's excellent album is basically the musical version of the grieving process over his beloved father's death. Having lost my own father, I also had to filter out as much of my grief as possible. With all that out of the way, I can happily report (although happily is a poor choice of words, I suppose) that Overcome is one of the better piano releases of recent memory. Carefully and artistically nuanced, the artist balances dramatic and powerful pieces with subdued tone poems that are emotionally more ambiguous, as well as including some interpretations of hymns and songs of worship. The overall effect of the CD blends reflection and introspection with occasions where Nevue's pain and loss come through via more dramatic and forceful melodies and playing. Nothing here is particularly light or cheery, of course, although per the liner notes, Nevue has reached not just an acceptance of his father's death, but a degree of triumph since, in his words, "I also want to emphasize that the focus of this album is NOT sadness or sorrow, but rather, the process of passing through it."

The album opens with the uptempo but darkly tinted title track and through the remaining fifteen tracks crosses through moments of quiet somberness ("winter walk"), gentle nostalgia ( the hymn "take my life and let it be"), delicate George Winston-like melodicism ("treasure falls"), dramatic intensity ("the vigil"), warm yet sad new age sensibility ("words left unsaid"), gospel-ish low-key spirituality ("the old country church") and closes with peaceful serenity and a dash of joy ("it is well with my soul").

Technically, as with other David Nevue recordings I've heard, engineering and production are excellent. The piano sounds rich and clear, with particular attention to the high end, in my opinion. Artistically, while I didn't "like" Overcome as much as Nevue's previous effort, Sweet Dreams and Starlight, I think it's an excellent album and certainly one I can recommend, provided the listener can handle the emotional weight of the album's concept and intent. It's not an easy listen sometimes, but not because of any fault of the music, but rather the unflinching gaze that the artist has trained on his own inner self. Baring one's soul seldom comes easy, but in David Nevue's case, he has done so with grace and beauty and also uncompromising integrity and honesty. Overcome is a boldly personal musical statement from an artist of talent and vision.