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Posted - 31 Dec 2007 :  23:21:49 Show Profile Reply with Quote

Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter - January 2008

The Band:
Bobby Shepherd: Drums
Steve Pettit: Lead Vocals
Jay Woody: Bass
Will Rauser: Guitars

The Crew:
Mark Bussell: Webmaster, Computer Tech
Tammy Woody: Video Production, Wardrobe
Juli Rauser: Booking
George Sparks: Roadie

Editor's Lead

Out With The Old, In With The New

Welcome to the January installment of the Jesus Joshua 24:15 Newsletter. For obvious reasons, I have chosen a title that reflects the time: A New Year. As a matter of fact, this Newsletter should reach your inbox on January 1st, 2008. So it is brand spanking new.

I have been reflecting on the thought of the New Year. The image is usually of an Old man (the past year) passing the baton to an infant (the New Year). Everything starts fresh. Everything begins anew. There is a sense that there is an absolute clean slate. What has passed is past. We can start over, we can focus on the future. The past is gone, never to be repeated, only remaining as a memory.

With this imagery in mind, it seems to be a good time to offer a thought or two on the spiritual concepts of newness. As I was preparing for this newsletter, a small portion of Scripture kept ringing in my head. I sought it out, and it is found in II Corinthians 5:17; "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!"

I would like everyone to observe some things that the Scripture doesn't say. The Scripture does not say, "If any man be in Christ, he is an improved individual," although, that does happen when a man comes to Christ. But that isn't the thrust of the passage. It certainly implies more than just an improvement. The Scripture doesn't say, "If any man be in Christ, he is still stuck in the same place he was, just more moral."

The Scripture says, "He is a new creation." Further, the passage clearly indicates that that which is old is gone. Just like the image of the New Year, the old is "passed away," never to return. Oswald Chambers writes: "Our Lord never 'patches up' our natural virtues, that is, our natural traits, qualities, or characteristics. '...put on the new man...'(Ephesians 4:24). In other words, see that your natural human life is putting on all that is in keeping with the new life. The life God places within us develops its own new virtues, not the virtues of the seed of Adam, but of Jesus Christ."

On a recent morning, one of my managers was giving instruction at our morning start-up meeting. Since I had not worked the previous morning (I had a scheduled day off), I was not aware of the previous workday's events. Apparently, the previous workday, which had a light workload, was beset with severe mechanical troubles, thus causing a 6 hour workload to be extended to a 9 and a half hour workload. Our manager, in the meeting I was now attending, referred to the previous day as a really bad day, "but now that day is past. This is a new day, and we expect to have better results." The old has gone, and the new has come.

I want to pass on to you something that I have been dwelling on. Way too many people are under the false notion that becoming a Christian somehow improves the old man. But the Scripture plainly suggests that something else is afoot. It says that we are New Creations", not refurbished old ones.

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, "Mere Christianity", these words; "For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became a man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game."

I realize that we are not exempt from mistakes, errors in judgment, petty fear, ignorance, emotional upheaval, and even at times, sin. I am certainly not perfect, by any means. But I think that there is a huge difference between being continuously perfected, and willful desertion and rebellion. Are we willing to let God continually turn us into sons (and daughters)? Do we really want to be transformed into new creatures, or just improved old ones?

Question for the band

Q:"Do you ever listen to what is current and try to incorporate that into your music?"

Will:The short answer? Well, no not really.

The long answer? I mean, we all have our ears to the ground, and we are aware that music is changing, some for the better, and some for the worse. But, I must admit that I really don't keep up with what is fashionable.

And, maybe because I am older, I just do not have the time, money, or the interest to concern myself with the trends. There used to be a time when I could tell you who played what in what band, how long they played there, how many albums they played on, etc. But, it has been a really long time since I could do that.

But, to be honest, even if we did keep up with what's current, it really wouldn't have an effect on what we do. I mean, yeah, Jay and I do some drop tuning (although, we've only really done Drop D, half-step down), and maybe Bob will incorporate some thrashier ideas to his drum parts. And Steve can sound very sinister with his vocals at times (which can, by the way, send chills up and down my spine). But, none of that is really new, is it? It doesn't affect our writing, because we do not write with our peers in mind. We write what is best suited for us. We do not feel any obligation to imitate current trends.

I also have to say that since we are not exactly impressed with most of what passes for music these days. Technical issues aside, and with a few exceptions, there's a lot of crap that enters the music arena. I won't mention names, because that is largely a matter of opinion. I like some things that I hear, and there are always new artists pushing the boundaries, but I don't feel that I am missing much. Some may call me "closed minded", but these are the same people who call my influences "80's" music, and dismiss it as crap.

And all of this can be wrapped up in the fact that we allow the Holy Spirit to produce in us the music that is written. That may sound like a cop out answer, but it is a reality. If we wrote out of ourselves, it really wouldn't amount to much for the Kingdom, would it? I can write tons of riffs. So can Jay. Bob just oozes with music, and Steve can write plenty. We all can write, and I think we could compete on the big levels. But that isn't really our call in Jesus Joshua 24:15.

That isn't to say that we aren't influenced musically by what is current. But, we are not the sum of our influences. God is doing a new thing in us all of the time. So, I couldn't tell you which way the next CD will go, because I have no clue. I only know it will continue getting better.

Guitar Points from Will

The Infamous b5 Tritone

I have been spending a lot of time with rhythm guitar. Mostly, as I have stated before, because rhythm is 98% of your set, so you should make an effort to generate interest in your song, not just your solos. One of the best (and easiest) ways to spice up a rhythm part is with the b5 interval. Now, we spent some time with intervals several months back. I would like to refer back to some of that as we look at this interesting musical phenomenon.

The b5, or "diminished 5th", interval is also called the "tritone interval". The b5 divides the Octave exactly in half. We shall use the Key of C Major for reference. I am now going to refer to the 12 tone Chromatic scale, so that we can see where this interval is located.


|-----6-half-steps----|----6-half-steps----| 1--b2--2--b3--3--4--|b5|--5--#5--6--b7--7--1 C--Db--D--Eb--E--F--|Gb|--G--G#--A--Bb--B--C

As you can see, there are 6 half-steps from the root(1) to the b5, and 6 half-steps from the b5 to the octave(1), which is the same as the root.

You might say, "Okay, so how is this important?" Well, knowing where the interval falls, and how it is structured helps you understand other chordal structures, particularly jazzier type chords. I realize we aren't dealing with that now, but trust me, it is important.

Now let's apply this neat little interval to our rhythm playing. The b5 interval has a reputation for being rather sinister sounding. This fact has not been lost on many a metal band. The usage is so common in metal riffs, and that is a testament to the versatility of this little interval. Let's make a very common type of rhythm riff using the b5.

C5 Cb5 C5 Cb5 E|--------------------------|| B|--------------------------|| G|--------------------------|| D|-----5-----4-----5-----4--|| A|-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3--|| E|--------------------------||

Notice that we are going back and forth between the C5 and the Cb5? Sounds cool, doesn't it? Add some chunky palm-muting for extra heaviness, and you now have a cool rhythm riff. You can also invert the b5 interval to create less predictable parts.


C5/G C5add9/G Cb5/Gb Cb5add9 E|---------------------|----------------------|| B|---------------------|----------------------|| G|-5--5-----7-----5----|-5--5-----7-----5-----|| D|-5-----5-----5-----5-|-4-----4-----4-----4--|| A|---------------------|----------------------|| E|---------------------|----------------------||

Now, before we continue, allow me to alleviate some potential confusion. The above examples switch from a C5 to a Cb5. That second chord is not a Cb chord (theoretically, there is no "Cb"). it is a C, with a lowered 5th(b5). However, there is such a thing as a "Bb5" (a Bb power chord, spelled Bb-F-Bb), which is different from a Bbb5(which is a Bb with a diminished 5th interval, spelled Bb-E-Bb). In the case where nomenclature becomes confusing, we would simply rewrite the chords like so...Bb#4 (That's a Bb with a #4 interval, which is exactly the same as a b5). There are other chords that require a rewrite to clear up the potential confusion of playing the wrong chord. Just to be clear, the "b5" and the "#4" are the exact same note, they just happen to function as different names, depending on musical context.

An interesting thing occurs when using intervals like this. In example 3, we used single notes to develop the harmony a little more. But what if we played a note outside the C type chord, in the lowest position, to change the harmony? The b5 interval will still sound the same, but the bass notes moving underneath would give it a sense of movement.


C5 C5add9 Cb5 Cb5add9 E|---------------------|---------------------|| B|---------------------|---------------------|| G|-5--5-----7-----5----|-5--5-----7-----5----|| D|-5-----5-----5-----5-|-4-----4-----4-----4-|| A|-3-------------------|-3-------------------|| E|---------------------|---------------------||

Am7 Amadd11 D7 E|----------------------|---------------------|| B|----------------------|---------------------|| G|-5--5-----7-----5-----|-5--5-----7-----5----|| D|-5-----5-----5------5-|-4-----4-----4-----4-|| A|-0--------------------|-5-------------------|| E|----------------------|---------------------||

Notice the moving bass line under the tritone riff. Now, the names of the chords change to reflect the actual harmony, but the b5 interval acts as a "pedal tone", which we discussed last month. Next month, a little deeper look into the tritone interval. Until then, experiment with the idea. You might just write that next big riff!

Lead Techniques from Will

Last month, I spoke to you about vibrato. Well, how is it taught? Personally, I think it can only be taught by listening to players phrase. Vibrato is as individual to a player as a fingerprint. So, while I can make suggestions to develop vibrato, I cannot teach how to really do it. {i]You have to do it.

However, I shall attempt to give some guidelines. Vibrato can be though of as the punctuation of a musical phrase. I like to use subtle vibrato whenever I hold notes for any length of time. I really like to add vibrato when I do pinch harmonics (a future column). To me, solos without good vibrato just lack authority, punch, and emotional content. So, here is my attempt to instruct on the concept of the vibrato.

Let's just take one phrase.

b. vib.---release bend E|-15(17)--------(17)15----|| B|-------------------------|| G|-------------------------|| D|-------------------------|| A|-------------------------|| E|-------------------------||

We bend the G note up to an A, and hold it. While holding the bent note, slightly release pressure until the note goes slightly flat. Then increase pressure to raise the pitch of the note to where you bent it. Then release the bend altogether. After the bend is released, wiggle your finger up and down slightly to create another vibrato. Using your wrist to create a fulcrum, you can increase or decrease the intensity of the vibrato.

Another way to look at vibrato is to bend and release in very quick and wide increases and decreases of pitch.

b. r. b. r. b, E|-15(17)(15)(17)(15)(17)--|| B|-------------------------|| G|-------------------------|| D|-------------------------|| A|-------------------------|| E|-------------------------||

Pick only the first note, bend, release, bend, release, and do it as fast as possible. This is called a wide vibrato, whereas the other was more of a subtle vibrato. Pretty soon, with continuous practice, you will be doing vibrato quite naturally. Use it as part of a phrase the way a singer does as they hold a note. To me, this is more important than playing fast. Take time to really develop your vibrato.

News and Events

  • As we are getting ready to fill our calendar, we have a few potential shows lined up - however nothing is in stone at this time. Those shows are TBA.

  • 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.

  • Check out Jesus Joshua 24:15's Myspace site:

  • You can also check out Will's Myspace

  • Happy New Year from the members and Crew of Jesus Joshua 24:15! I trust that you will not let this year go by without considering God's will for your life.

A Final Thought

My final thoughts lay in the fact that we know nothing of the coming year. We all have hopes for what this year will bring. I trust that those hopes will be fulfilled for all of you. However, I must point out that last year at this time, many had hopes for 2007, and they were soaked in tragedy and despair. There is no security in anything outside of God's plan.

I am not trying to be morbid or depressing. A new year is certainly a time for celebration. It is a time for hope and positive outlook. But we must temper our celebration with the idea that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I am not suggesting we should dwell on the negative and the anxious. I am suggesting that we keep our perspective intact.

I submit that the only security we have is in the hands of Almighty God. Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart I[/i] have overcome the world." Despite what may happen in the coming year, let's remember that Christ is already there, in control, and has direction for each of us.

"C'mon Dave, Gimme a break!"

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