Category: Music


It is remarkable to reflect on the way in which God chose to create his universe. Everywhere we turn there is evidence of his lavish love and creativity; the boldness of a sunset… the beauty of a tulip… the brightness of the sun.

One particular area in which we see his creativity is in music. Music has the power to move people in a way that words fail to achieve. It can lift us to new heights, and take us on a journey to places unexpected.

At the 2004 TWIST Music Conference, Mike Raiter spoke of the power of the song. In referring to the wonderful Colin Buchanan concert the night before, he said that because of his gift of music, Colin could have taken our crowd anywhere. “But”, he observed, “aren’t we thankful that he took us to God!”

We know the power of music. We use it every week to proclaim God’s praises. Yet, we want to make sure we use this powerful tool to achieve the best possible outcomes.

That’s why it’s important our musicians are well trained. That’s why the TWIST Music Conference is such an important event for our musicians.

Registrations close Monday night, and the conference begins the Saturday after. Don’t miss out on stimulating teaching from Mike Raiter, terrific congregational music from some of Australia’s most gifted musos, and invaluable hands-on training in many great workshops.

Full details at www.twist.org.au. Don’t miss out!

When does style overtake substance? This is one of the perennial issues in youth ministry–especially in music. Read my latest column at sydneyanglicans.net

Here’s an excerpt:

Now I recognise that speaking this way does little to give me youth ministry street-cred (or whatever it’s called these days). I am at great risk of being labelled out-of-touch, over-the-hill, geriatric, or whatever term of endearment the younger folk might care to give me. But I wonder whether or not there are certain tempos and vocal styles that are incompatible with congregational singing, even for a group of people who are regular listeners of heavy metal?

Today it is reported that EMI has decided to drop the DRM (digital rights management) of songs on iTunes. In other words, songs by EMI will soon be downloadable from the Apple iTunes Store without any copy protection.

It is true that this will be popular for consumers. I, for one, hate being locked into one format for my downloadable songs. I worry that by buying a U2 song from iTunes that I’ll never be able to play my full collection of music on Windows Media Player, should I decide to churn players. I also worry that the resolution is too low on the downloadable songs, and would instead prefer a CD. This new move from EMI solves both problems, as the new downloads will be at double the current quality.

However, is the move to remove protection based on an optimistic view of society? Does it assume that people are generally good? Does it presume that people will not illegally copy music and give it to others? The problem for the record companies is that CDs already are unprotected, and this practice already goes on everywhere in brazen disobedience to the law. So, my guess is that this move recognises that people will continue to copy music no matter what ‘protection’ they provide. So, rather than try and restrict people from breaking the law, they will need to try a different approach.

Some copying of music is legitimate, for example, for personal backups of the media. Removing this restriction will mean the honest people will gain freedoms. Yet, it will also mean that the already rife practice of illegally distributing material will continue, since the bad guys will always work out a way to copy things.

I think it’s a very clever move from Steve Jobs from Apple, and also from EMI. It rewards honest customers, provides an incentive to buy from iTunes (the higher resolution) and gives up trying to restrict the lawbreakers. It is a mixture of a retrieval ethic (seeking the most loving outcome within the environment of an evil world) and clever marketing.

If on Monday 5th Feb you’re around a radio in Sydney (or a web browser anywhere) at around 10.30AM, have a listen to my interview with Joanne Traeger on FM 103.2. It will be streamed on the web from the FM 103.2 stream.

She’s going to chat with me specifically about the TWIST Music Conference in August, and the DVD we made from last year.

If you haven’t seen the DVD, here’s a sneak peak of the song ‘Never Alone’:

[youtube 9hTvwSMNBCo]

Buy the full DVD at www.twistconference.com

Check here after the interview for an update on how it went.

[PS. Sorry if you tuned in two Mondays ago and didn’t hear me… the original interview was delayed.  But fingers crossed for Monday!]

Kite Live from Sydney

As I sit at my desk, early on Sunday morning, putting the final touches on today’s sermon, I have just been taken back to an amazing night in November of last year. I just noticed on iTunes a new U2 track ‘Kite Live from Sydney’, and I immediately bought it because (amongst other reasons) it was recorded in Sydney on 11 November–the very night I heard it live with Mandy.

It brings memories back to me of an amazing night… an amazing experience! I’ve been a crazy U2 fan since my mate Dave Maegraith dragged me along to the movies to see ‘Rattle and Hum’ in 1988. I saw them live in the ‘Love comes to Town’ tour that followed in 1989.

Without taking anything away from the talent of Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam, it reminds me that the euphoria many people experience in religious contexts is not necessarily of divine origin. I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not saying that a powerful sense of emotion is guaranteed to be from God. I felt amazing that night in Nov 11, but it was from U2, not God. Although, God certainly did create Bono’s amazing voice and The Edge’s incredible guitar interpretation, and the driving bass of Adam, and the solid and powerful drums of Larry.

What a night! What a single. Grab it for yourselves from iTunes. And listen out for the tribute to Cate Blanchett… and the amazing digeridoo in the background…

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