|Posted - 01 Dec 2007 : 18:59:48 |
Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter - December 2007
Bobby Shepherd: Drums
Steve Pettit: Lead Vocals
Jay Woody: Bass
Will Rauser: Guitars
Mark Bussell: Webmaster, Computer Tech
Tammy Woody: Video Production, Wardrobe
Juli Rauser: Booking
George Sparks: Roadie
Welcome to the December installment of the Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter! As many of you have probably begun to notice, we are beginning to see the signs of the Christmas season. How do we know this? First of all, television commercials have already begun the advertising blitzes. While sitting with my daughter watching TV, a commercial ran for a particular brand of wireless phone service. It was an amusing commercial, but my 8 year old daughter turned to me and asked, "Why are they showing Christmas stuff now?" I thought that was a very interesting question, given my daughter's age, and I must admit I was caught a little off guard. Because I have grown up with this stuff happening every year, and because I work for a retail chain, I was used to seeing this cycle of advertising right around this time of year.
Anyway, I answered my child's question with, "Well, honey, people are getting ready to start purchasing gifts for Christmas, and the stores want to let people know where the deals are." Obviously, the answer is a little more complex than that, but she seemed satisfied with my answer. We continued to watch TV without any more questions on the subject. Yet, innocent though it was, her question stuck with me.
This particular installment of the editor's lead is not about Christmas advertising, or about greed, or about commercialization of the precious event of Christmas. I will leave those subjects to other preachers and detractors. Personally, I have never been that bothered by businesses taking advantage of the holiday season to push their wares. Allow me to draw you into another area, one that I think is much more nefarious to our society than whether or not we think there has been too much commercialization of Christmas.
Recently, I heard a story about a city in Colorado that has formed a "Diversity Task Force" to inform city officials of anyone putting up Christmas type decorations that do not fall within the proper diversity guidelines. Things such as colored lights and green tinsel are considered violations of the "diversity police". As I understand it, these guidelines only apply to city, state, and federal government buildings. Apparently, to place such items up in celebration of Christmas means that you are promoting a single religious holiday, to the exclusion of all other religious festivities that occur during this season. To me, and to many other clear thinking individuals, this is nothing more than a crock of excrement. It is an excuse and a camouflaged attempt to marginalize Christmas, and by extension Christianity. I believe that this is the undercurrent of such movements within American society. While many of our Christian preachers are railing at the over-commercializing of Christmas, and even railing against the "secular" symbols that have come to be associated with Christmas (such as Santa Clause, the Christmas tree, and such), I think many of them have missed the real danger in our society.
Allow me to switch gears and open up some Scripture. There's a very familiar story in the book of Daniel, chapter 6. Those of you who have been in church for a long time recognize this as the story of "Daniel in the lion's den." How does this line up with Christmas? Truth is, it doesn't. But there is a very interesting plot to this story that I find very synonymous with the undercurrent of today's society.
To summarize the story, we read of the Persian king, Darius, who appointed 120 rulers over various parts of the Medo-Persian kingdom. There were 3 administrators placed over those rulers - one of whom was the prophet Daniel. The Scripture tells us that the "satraps were made accountable to them, so that the king might not suffer loss." We are also told that Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and satraps that the king planned to place him over the whole kingdom.
Of course, this did not sit well with the other politicians of the day. And, as we can see, some things do not change. Politics is still politics. The other rulers tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of governmental affairs, but they were unable to do so. The Bible says that they "could find no corruption in him, because he was trust worthy and neither corrupt nor negligent." Okay, so maybe some things DO change...
The story takes an interesting twist. After a futile attempt to assail Daniel's character and integrity, they came up with a plan to use those very qualities against him. The other politicians said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."
Allow me to digress for a moment. Notice that these men didn't care one whit about Daniel's religion until they needed a way to indict him. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I believe that for the most part most people are not bothered about what a person's individual faith is. It is when you live up to that faith, in your character and actions, that you garner the notice of the world.
At any rate, we all know what happened to Daniel next. After the other rulers deceived the King Darius into signing into law that no prayers should be offered to any other god but the king, Daniel went home and prayed to his God anyway. And of course, the other rulers were right there to catch Daniel in the act. Of course, Daniel, being well aware of the new law, and of the conspiracy against him, didn't even try to hide his lifestyle of prayer. And as a result Daniel came into direct conflict with the law of the land. He even came into direct conflict with his loyalty to the King. And thus Daniel ended up having to be exposed to the penalty of that unrighteous law. Obviously, we all know that this story ends on a victorious note: God sealed the mouths of the lions and Daniel suffered no injury. When Daniel walked out of the lion's den unscathed and whole, the king rejoiced, the schemers knew they were in trouble, and the lions got a super-sized meal of satrap and family.
Again, what does any of this have to do with Christmas? Again, not a blasted thing. But, there is an undercurrent of thought here that parallels the modern treatment of Christians, particularly during this most hallowed of seasons.
The undercurrent of which I speak is this: I do not believe that the city authorities in Colorado give a rat's rear-end about diversity. They really could care less about the imaginary offense to other religions that Christmas poses. What they really want is to marginalize Christianity's influence upon American culture and society. Anything that has to do with Christianity represents a threat to people's personal agendas. Even things that are peripherally associated with Christmas (again, such as Santa, the Tree, and so on), and have been included traditionally are targets for assault and vilification. The reason that Christmas is under attack by certain segments of the population is that Christ is in it.
You see, Daniel's opponents had no problem with his religious affairs. If you will notice that the law drawn up to deceive the Persian king, and thereby prosecute Daniel, said that anyone who prays to any god during a certain period would be thrown into the lion's den. Any other religious sect would have fallen into a violation of the law. But that wasn't the necessary intent or target of the satrap's plot. I would also offer that, according to Scripture, nobody else felt as strongly about their religious conviction as Daniel did. If they had, you might have found other pagans in the lion's den with Daniel. Yet, Daniel was the only one prosecuted. It kind of makes me wonder if anyone else was as committed to their other faiths as Daniel was to his, but I digress once again.
What Daniel's opponents had a problem with was his accomplishments. He was showing them up. Because of Daniel's immovable faith and obedience to God, the real God, he was transformed into a human being of high integrity and unassailable character. That character was manifested even in the mundane things of life such as Daniel's service to the king of Persia. God elevated Daniel to a high position, even within a pagan society, and Daniel served as a reminder that a person can live above sin and corruption, and even non-believers will recognize that integrity. That kind of character is noticed, appreciated, and even at times rewarded. And so, it becomes necessary to attempt to marginalize all reminders of truth, integrity, and good character, by those who have been eclipsed by those qualities.
For the third time, what does this have to do with Christmas? In my personal opinion, Christmas celebrated and honored reminds the human race that we need a Savior. And if we need a Savior, then there must be something to be saved from. And being saved from something frees us to be something different. And when we act differently, we shine the light of truth upon those who lack that truth. Nobody likes to have their sin exposed, nor to be reminded that they need something. And so, it is preferred that it is better to marginalize someone's faith rather than face that truth.
Think about it. All Daniel's opponents had to do was admit that they were not living up to the rightful standard, and follow Daniel's exemplary example. But that would have required a change that none of them were willing to go through. Daniel represented a standard of living that they weren't willing to meet. I think Christmas, even with some of it's periphery traditions, are that reminder to a world that is becoming ever less tolerant of Godly standards.
Question for the band
Q: "Do you ever look back at the old material, and listen to it as a listener, or as a critic?"
Will: "I wish I could say that I look back onto our previous work without any bias, and just appreciate it for what it is, but I am afraid that I cannot. That is the goal though. Usually, I have to wait and not listen to it for a while. Since I rehearse the music all the time, I am constantly exposed to my work. I do know where the mistakes are, but sometimes stepping away from the work tends to obscure those mistakes, and makes them part of the personality of the work. Sometimes, a period of time away from the actual recording gives you a fresh perspective. I begin to realize that God has really done something with that work, and it has very little to do with my personal performance, good or bad.
Having said all of that, I am very proud of the work we've done as a band. I think we are getting better and better. But I rarely just listen to my own work. I am forced to study it because I have to perform it. But I cannot just enjoy it like a well written novel or a fine wine. Of course, I do like the material we've written. But, the critic in me does tend to rear it's ugly head from time to time."
Bob:"For me it's always as a listener. Often times I don't understand the magnitude of what God is doing at that moment, or as I like to say "just do it. You'll get it later." When doing a CD project, I am very critical and make sure that it is right to the best of "my" ability (not everyone else's abilities). I believe that once it is released to the public we can't get it back to make changes and it is out there forever.
I think that if it was left up to us we would keep going and making changes and rewriting and so on, because we are never totally satisfied with our work as musicians and writers. We always desire perfection and are usually our own worst critics.The key for me is to follow my spirit. When God says "It is finished", who am I to argue? Knowing when to get out of the way will allow God to do some big things in your life. peace...."
Jay:"I have to say, I do listen to the old material from time to time. And my answer is both. As a listener; mainly for the MINISTRY. But you have to admit there are some pretty slammin' licks on the first two albums. Bobby cuts up on the skins, Will with his melodic solos, Steve is just the man, solid bass, and well I was a lot younger then, [and] I still have a hard time believing it wasme hitting some of those notes [that] Bobby pulled out of me.
As a critic I always go back to re-examine myself to see what I can improve on, because, Hey, God deserves our very best! I guess that makes me a constructive-critic. Until next time..."
Guitar Points from Will
Another aspect of rhythm playing is using a series of separate chords to suggest a single chord. In other words, just because you play through a series of seemingly disjointed chords, doesn't mean that you aren't suggesting a single chord or tonality. One of the things that I love about rock and heavy metal is that you can use small, harmonically simple devices to suggest a more complex harmonic idea.
For example, in most metal, we utilize the pedal tone, or a tone that we "pedal", or use repetitively. In the exercise below, you can see how the lowest note acts as a pedal;
E5 B5/E A5/E E5
x x x x x x x x
Notice the slash chords(B5/E and A5/E)? All that means is that the "E" note is the pedal tone. Now, interestingly, sometimes we guitar players refer to more complex chords and harmonies in simpler terms, using the slash chords. Part of the reason why is because of the function, or context, of the chords or harmony in question.
For example, if we break down the "B5/E" chord it is spelled E(4)/B(1)-F#(5). I listed the "E" first, because it is the lowest note in our voicing here. But, if we rearranged the voicings to play off of the root, you could look at it as a Bsus4 chord (B-E-F#).
Now, if we were in the key of "E" (which, in this example, we are), we could look at the "B5/E" chord as a simpler, more concise "E" type chord. If we make "E" the root (or "1"), the chord would be spelled; E(1)-B(5)-F#(2, or 9). So, we have an "Esus2" or "E5add9". The low "E" that acts as a pedal tone separates the voicing.
If we take the same idea with the "A5/E", we generate; E(1)-A(4)-E(1). Not much harmonic information, but it does help create the sense of movement to the next chord. Also, the key implies that the "A"type chord is a major chord. (A Major= A-C#-E). But, since our example doesn't exactly define a certain key, you could imply an A minor type chord. (A minor= A-C[b3]-E).
Basically, the pedal tone allows you to imply the key center of a piece of music, and it ties all of the chords together to each other. Often, a pedal tone is a common tone between several chords. For example, here are several different chords that share a single tone;
Key of A
A E/A D/A F#m/A
Let's examine the chords, from the perspective of the key of A Major:
A = A(1)- C#(3) -E(5) A Major
E = E(5)- G#(M7)-B(9) A Major9
D = D(4)- F#(6) -A(1) A sus4add6
F#m= F#(6)-A(1) -C#(3) A 6
Now, notice that I have referred each one of the chords as if they were different voicings of some type of an "A" major chord. In truth, they are 4 different chords, but the "A" pedal tone ties them together harmonically. And, even though the "E" Major chord doesn't actually share the "A" note, it does fit if you add the chord on top of the "A" pedal tone, which creates an "A Major 9, no 3rd" chord.
Why does any of this matter? Because pedal tones help you to define larger, more complex chords, without actually having to play them fully. In Jazz and some Blues, and certainly Classical styling, full harmonies are played. Those same kind of harmonies are much harder to make sound pleasant with the amount of gain and distortion rock and metal players use. Plus, Metal and Rock stylings tend to play at much faster tempos than other idioms. The faster the tempos, the smaller amount of tones need to be played.
Let's look at another example, using pedal tones, but this time let's create chords that are not necessarily a part of the key. Sometimes, chords from another key are "borrowed" but are harmonically tied by the common tone in the bass register.
B5 Bm7 A7/B G/B sl.A/B
All of these smaller chords are really just simpler "cells" of the overall harmony of Bminor7 (Bm7). But because they're played in "slices", they hold their own identity within the overall harmony. It is the low "B" note that ties all of them together.
Pedal tones do not have to be the lowest note, either. You can use a pedal tone above the harmony. For example, instead of the low "B" mote in the last example, use the open "B" on the second string. Like so;
Allow notes to ring
B5 Bm7 A7(9) G5 A5
This example is more of a jangly, ringing style of chord progression, but the pedal tone is still the harmonic pivot of the sequence. Notice the ringing "B" note on the second string. That gives the mundane progression some variety and tension. With distortion, it also adds some harmonic complexity, without adding more fingers! I love the "sounds complex, but easy to play" mentality. Try adding common tones to otherwise separate chords and you will find a whole new world to explore with rhythm.
Lead Techniques from Will
In the past, I have showed you a variety of techniques to help you develop your lead playing. But the problem with that is, they're just mechanical techniques, not necessarily musical ideas. "Lead" guitar is somewhat of a misnomer, anyway. Even my own columns tend to make a distinction between "Lead" and "Rhythm". The purpose for those distinctions is to help divide and conquer certain aspects of playing the instrument. But it tends to over-emphasize one aspect over another. Truly, it would be like saying one half of a pair of scissors is more important than the other half. That just isn't so.
The one thing that is harder to teach is "melodic content" or "phrasing". Personally, I have always found that melodic phrasing to be very important to a guitarist's style than pure flash or speed. Obviously, I want to be a fast player, too, and I am in continual awe over players who seem to be able to play with such precision at ridiculous tempos. But, the human brain can only process a certain amount of speed before it just ignores the information. There has to be more than speed and technique to lead playing.
One of my heroes is Gary Moore. Rest assured, he can play quite fast. However, I found him to be quite an inspiration to me because, even in my early formative playing years, many of his leads that grabbed me weren't that difficult to play, yet they had the power and melodic content that made even me sound powerful.
Now, of course, there's plenty of Gary Moore solos that I cannot touch, even today. But even his fast passages are full of that same melodic feel. Moore doesn't play scales, he plays melodic phrases. I copped a lot of Gary Moore's feel when I was learning to play. Though, Edward Van Halen has always been, and always shall be, my number one favorite, Gary Moore gave me a different flavor to work with.
Several reasons for my high opinion of Moore is his vibrato. You know, that intense (or subtle) shaking of the string that simulates a human voice? Vibrato cannot be taught with scales. Yet it is a crucial lesson in lead guitar expression. I believe that your vibrato is probably the single most identifiable technique for any guitarist to master.
Vibrato is the reason I favor another great player (who, coincidentally, is a Gary Moore disciple), John Sykes. For those of you not familiar with that name, I refer you to the famous, multi-platinum album "Whitesnake". Some of you might be shaking your heads in disapproval, saying "80's Hair Band." But, listen to Sykes' solo in the song "Is This Love". In all actuality, that's not really a fast solo, but it is one of his best. And Sykes can burn with the best of them.
A third player, who is probably my second biggest influence, that has an outstanding vibrato is Neal Schon of Journey. Again, some of you might be shaking your heads in disgust, but Schon is in a class by himself. If there was ever a player who can balance technical ability with phrasing, it is Schon. And a lot of Schon's solos are very melodic, even when he plays fast lines. I defy some of our speed demon peers to try and play both fast AND melodic.
I realize that there is an awful lot of words, and no tabbed musical examples. Part of that is you really cannot tab out the examples of these great players. You have to listen! Plus, vibrato is a technique that you can easily do yourself. Try bending any note you want, hold it, and shake it. Try to stay even with your shake. Shake it slow or fast, but keep the tempo constant. Even shake it wide, then go in small intervals. The idea is to simulate the human voice. You want your lines to have that "singing" quality.
Vibrato is largely individual. All three of the players I listed above all have great vibrato, yet each one is individually identifiable. I can tell each one just by their vibrato. Believe me, it takes a tremendous amount of technique to develop the kind of control needed to have an identifiable vibrato. When practicing your pentatonic scales and your sweep picking, please include vibrato in your studies. It is what separates the good players from the great ones.
News and Events
- Jesus Joshua 24:15 is in downtime mode for the Holidays. As of right now, no events are scheduled. But that could change! Stay tuned to the JJ24:15 website and we'll keep you posted on the latest changes.
- If you have any questions for the band, or any single member of the band, send an email to Axeman2415 via the JJ24:15 website. Any questions are welcome, but the band reserves the right not to answer any of deeply personal or vulgar nature.
A Final Thought
As this is the final JJ24:15 Newsletter of the year, I wanted to take time to think about the past year. 2007 was a tremendous year for the band, in many ways, and not just musically. I suspect that '08 will be even more spectacular. However, pinpointing just a couple of things to describe is awfully difficult to achieve, particularly since some of those events are very deeply personal.
As we prepare to enter a new year, we all have hopes, dreams, resolutions, and possibilities. However, if there's one thing that I have learned from this past year is that we must all must make room for God to use us as He sees fit. We can make all of the plans in the world, but what will we really achieve if He is not in them? In all actuality, I am treating this backwards. We should be prepared to be a part of God's plans. There have been many instances this year where God directly stepped in and closed doors that we thought He opened. Ironically, we were the one's who prayed that His will be done. Well, did we really want His will or not? I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that God effects His will on our agendas when we ask that He do so.
I have been in observation of a lot of so-called Christian bands this past year. I say "so-called", not because I doubt that they are Christians, but I don't see much room for Christ to move through them. Many say they are called to do this band thing, but I cannot help but wonder if they are not instituting their own agendas, and tacking Jesus' name to it, to give what they do sanction. As long as you say "God called me to this...", who is going to argue with you? Then I see some of these same bands folding like a lawn chair at the first sign of defeat or heartache, and again I question if they were "called" at all. If God called you to it, do you not have an obligation to go where He sent you?
It may seem that I am going off track. But, as we look toward next year, many of us will have a new sense of direction. That is good. But if you are still following the old paths, then you're only going arrive at the same destinations. I would tell you that you cannot make plans without factoring God into the equation. For if you're called by God, then that means that He calls the shots.
"C'mon Dave, Gimme a break!"
|Posted - 04 Dec 2007 : 06:29:36 |
| Hmmm , veeeery interrresting !|
At what point does the undercurrent , become mainstream ?
but some of you need to be awakened and slapped silly - William D Rauser
|Posted - 04 Dec 2007 : 06:54:07 |
| When the rock no longer blocks the way?|
There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.
- Will Rogers
|Posted - 04 Dec 2007 : 13:13:12 |
| Personally, I think the undercurrent is hidden within the tides. Chances are, you'll only know the undercurrent is there when it sweeps you away....|
"C'mon Dave, Gimme a break!"
|Posted - 04 Dec 2007 : 17:51:36 |
| You see a similar scenario in the classroom environment where the student who performs poorly begins to diminish the importance of doing well and even negatively targets those of his peers who DO perform well. This is exactly why the recent schoolastic practice of rewarding all in the classroom equally regardless of how they perform has eroded the very foundation of educational excellence in this country... just an interesting parallel.|
President of the
Juan Valdez fanclub
|Posted - 04 Dec 2007 : 17:55:30 |
| I'm not so sure it's an undercurrent anymore. I believe it's becoming much more apparent to everyone that Christians amd Christianity are being singled out and systematically eliminated. As cities across the US are beginning to remove any hint of this country's former Christian basis, there are three Michigan cities that broadcast, by loudspeaker, the Islamic call to prayer. TV and Movies depict Christians in the most ridiculous and pitifull manner at every opportunity. Scientists use man's logic to invalidate any belief in the Spiritual relm. These are all in plain view, and even celebrated as progress in some circles.|
It may still be subtle, but it's not hidden by any means. The World will always think Christ and His Body are foolish. From The Fall until time passes, God and the Godly will always be seen as foreign to the unbelieving. What is different is "wierd", and wierd is usually ridiculed, or even feared.
That is why, we as Christians, true Christians, must study, be wise, and stand above reproach. When we fail, fail graciously. When we are failed, offer grace. When we argue amongst ourselves, be discrete. When we argue amongst the seeking, be well versed. When aproached by the unrepentant unbeliever, refuse to argue. When we see wrong, correct it. When we see need, minister. When we see despair, offer hope.
If we stand above the norm, we will be targets. Believe me, I know the tallest person out there will take a heat round or two. But we were warned of the costs of belief. The cost is our lives, sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally. This is our duty, and our responsibility. "Yes Cain, you are your brother's keeper."
In the end, I do not serve for the fame, fortune, and good looking girls. I don't even serve as the price of admission to Paradise. I serve because I can and it is the right thing to do.
And what I have found is, when you serve your neighbor in his need, he doesn't turn around and take pot shots at you.
If your dream is not worth your life, then you are dreaming too small.
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