Modern Drumset Techniques For Today's Worship Drummer

Bethany Coyle: Beginning//End EP

Bethany Coyle is a good friend and talented musician based in Edinburgh – I have the privilege of playing at her EP Launch in a few weeks. It’s a cracker of an EP with some really creative songwriting (and rhythmic stuff which means a lot of fun for me).

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‘Where The River Flows’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

And the 4th video from the EP – ‘Where The River Flows’. Here’s what the co-writer, my good friend Pete Crockett said about the song:

Here’s a song that myself and Allan McKinlay have written as a prophetic declaration for Scotland & Glasgow –

Bit about the track:
In the study of the Celtic saints I was struck by the prayer of Saint Mungo to the river community of the Glas-Cu “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of his word and the praising of his name”. Where the river flows is a transposition of Ezekiel 47 v9 “And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live”, and Revelation 22 It is designed as an inculturation of the divine river of life of the temple of heaven in Revelation, and the Clyde. Water metaphors are frequent throughout scripture, and are frequently associated with the giving of life, the choice of words in the verse is a further inculturation; 

God’s word will pour out like a river,
streams of living water, flowing from his throne.
Clean and pure as highland water,
pouring down from heaven, nourishing the earth.

As a subtle reference to Scotland, clean and pure as highland water, is both generic as ‘high-lands’ are not geographically specific, yet the highlands within a Scottish contextual playing will be presumed to be the Scottish Highlands. This is continued in the bridge where the repeated line everything shall live is accented with:

…In the highlands
…In the lowlands
…In the islands

Musically there is: a jig at the dynamic climax, ‘tribal’ drumming, blends of acoustic and electric drums, and clarsach & rhodes electric piano. It concludes with the clarsach and voices

‘Give Thanks To God’ – Scottish Worship EP: Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

Here’s the 3rd video from the Scottish Worship EP: ‘Give Thanks To God’. This is like a traditional metrical Psalm with a call and response from the leader and the congregation. Here’s what Pete Crockett, who co-wrote this song with Allan McKinlay, said about it:

Here’s a song myself and Allan have written based on psalm 136 and is intended to be a modern liturgical metric psalm.

I have used this form recently for prayer meetings where this liturgical form works well with the leader, or someone else singing/speaking a prayer and everyone else responding e.g.

Lord you have been so good to me
All – His never ending love is steadfast and sure
Where would I be Lord without you
All – Give thanks to God for he is good

It works completely acapella or with instruments

written by Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett

 

‘Open The Doors’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

This is a wonderful prophetic song co-written called ‘Open The Doors’ by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett from the recent release, ‘Scottish Worship EP.’ Hope you enjoy the drum section at 2:15!

‘I Wanna Know You’ – Allan McKinlay & Pete Crockett: Scottish Worship EP

I really hope you enjoy this Scottish ceilidh ‘anthem’ –  ‘I Wanna Know You’ – the first of 5 videos from the recent release ‘Scottish Worship EP‘! This was such great fun to play! Co-Written by Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett.

 

Scottish Worship EP: Live at Stanely House

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At the end of February I had the immense privilege and pleasure of playing on the recent live EP recording, ‘Scottish Worship: Live at Stanely House’ featuring five tracks co-written by two of Scotland’s best Christian songwriters, Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett. I thought I’d just write a short blog about the build up and the day itself.

one rehearsal and it’s go time:

Yes, it really was just the one rehearsal we had – due to scheduling conflicts and the lateness in getting everything together, we booked in a 3 hour rehearsal on the eve of the recording. Prior to that, individual parts and clicks were sent via Dropbox and we all learned in our own time. Fortunately, most of us all play together regularly, so we know each other’s style quite well. Still, the thought of cramming 8 people into the recording and for it all to go swimmingly well was nerve-racking, especially for me as the drummer to make sure I was dead on the ‘grid’ with the click.

a bit about the day itself:

We all arrived at various times throughout the morning. Pete, Allan, as well as Gus Stirrat (live engineer and mixer) and his crew had been since about 9am. I arrived with my family about 11am to set up drums. All the setting up finished about 1.30pm and we had a brief lunch and went straight to rehearsal, which went well, but at points was quite intense, as we were trying to make sure we all knew our parts. The other band members minus Dave (bass) and myself then recorded through all the tracks – so Gus would have a ‘clear’ version without drum bleed.

to the evening:

As we anxiously awaited the audience of about 40 to arrive, we all changed and hung about and had a bit of dinner. When the crowd got there, we let them know the plan of the night itself, that we would be doing 3 sets back to back, and were looking for folks to be themselves and to enjoy the night – though participation was required in one or two of the songs! We also made folks aware that there would be no words on any screens, but that they were pretty simple to pick up.

clicking in:

I had my kit set up, Octapad ready to go, notepad and pen to briefly make a note of anything from each take from the drums point of view. I started thumping on the kick, and we went straight into the first song, ‘I Wanna Know You.’ The first run through was pretty decent, although I think we started to find our flow and comfort zone from the second run, as we began to ‘go for it’ a bit more, although a few mistakes were made. By the 3rd set, I think we had settled in as much as we could considering the rush of everything and the intensity of the night. But it was the set that felt the most ‘relaxed’ and ‘fun’ – we were making more eye contact with each other and smiling (not that we hadn’t been beforehand!). We had nearly reached the end of what was a long but worthwhile day – we were all on the same side in that we were routing for each other to play the best we could. Most of all, we wanted to honour God. We also wanted to lead people well in worship, but also most of the folk who were there knew us already and were supportive of this project. That helped a lot! What also helped so much was Gus and his team being so gracious and kind towards us throughout the day.

packing up with an afterthought:

This was the most enjoyable recording experience I’ve had to date – lots of musicians, a live recording, a cool venue, and authentic Scottish sounds – what was not to like! I’m now really looking forward to the release of the EP itself! Would I do it like this again? Yes and no. If we had time to practice more and make it ‘tighter’ as a whole that would’ve been great. But did we all learn a lot from the experience? Most certainly!

My sincere thanks to Allan & Pete on collaborating for this project!

 

From the Archives: Interview with Author Tom Lennie about Revival & Worship (pt.2)

*This interview was originally from March 2012. Since then, Tom has released a fantastic new book on revival, ‘Scotland: Land of Many Revivals (Christian Focus Publications)’:

1) As a music reviewer, how do you think Contemporary Worship Music has changed over the past number of years?

I’m not sure there’s been a truly significant change in the essence of popular worship music in the past decade or so, to be honest. Pop/rock praise anthems, with punchy hook lines and congregationally singable choruses have been very much the order of the day in modern worship music for many years now, and that’s still the same today. British worship writers/musicians like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes remain hugely popular both sides of the Atlantic, as do American dudes like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. What changes over time is the number of new names in worship that are cropping up – the market is saturated with worship albums and mp3s, and so much of it is really good. My only issue is there’s often not much variability – much contemporary worship music sticks to a very similar, indistinct format.

I am impressed, though, with a number of fresh sounds in worship that are cropping up from time to time. I’m thinking, for example of that Northern Irish team, The Rend Collective Experiment. or that energetic group from Colorado, known as Gungor and led my Michael Gungor. Or the original, rootsy sound of Australian four-piece Sons Of Korah, who have yet to become widely recognised, but who’s impressive output focuses almost exclusively on the Psalms, into which biblical pieces they breathe wonderfully fresh and inspirational life.

2) You mentioned in Cross Rhythms that two of your all time favourites ‘Back Home’ by Caedmon’s Call and ‘Myself When I Am Real’ by Bebo Norman, is that still the case or have you changed from that?

I’m listening to Caedmon’s Call right now as I write – their Chronicles album!  Love that group. their combination of folk and rock with catchy melodies and great harmonies really appeals to me. And yeh, I still think Bebo Norman is great too. His songwriting skills are first-rate; in terms of both lyrical content, which is rich in spiritual depth, and in catchy hook-lines, which stay with you. He has a great voice, too. Among other favourites, I’d include the above-mentioned Sons Of Korah, Jadon Lavik and Canadian Steve Bell. Actually, one of the most beautiful, Spirit-led worship albums I know of is a very early recording by Rita Springer called ‘Love Covers’. It’s out of print these days, and very hard to come by, but the album contains a whole string of the most spiritually-sensitive piano-led worship songs I’ve ever heard. Love listening to that album (or I would do, if only my friend would return it to me!). Another worship beauty is ‘Divine Whisper’ by former Vineyard worship leader (now based in Seoul, South Korea), Scott Brenner. Gentle songs of adoration – utterly heaven-inspired. And then there’s Misty Edwards, one of Kansas City IHOP’s worship musicians. Her album ‘Relentless’ is powerful, prophetic and wonderfully engaging.

3) Any up and coming acts you think are ones to watch, or any good albums from old favourites (g.Stuart Townend, Graham Kendrick)?

Loads of up and coming musicians out there who are worth watching for, including some already mentioned above. One guy who’s been making a big mark on the Scottish music scene is Steph Macleod. Now well-know in his native land, but still undiscovered by many, Steph’s distinctly bluesy vocals and impressive songs are most noteworthy. Or how about Dutch worship musician, Kees Kraayenoord, almost completely unkown in the UK – his album ‘Speak The Word’s is full of ear-catching p&w sounds. Or again, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

You mention Graham Kendrick. Some of his output in the last ten or fifteen years has been excellent. He kinda went through a period in the late 80s and 90s when his music wasn’t too exciting. But then came ‘What Grace’ – with guest appearances from ‘youngsters’ Martin Smith and Matt Redman. A gorgeous album of diverse worship sounds. He’s done the same thing more recently with ‘Banquet released in 2011. Remarkably it’s his 30th album to date – which makes it all the more impressive that it sounds so fresh and interesting from start to finish. Another worship veteran, Robin Mark’s most recent recording ‘Fly’ is also worth checking out.

Review of Worship Albums in 2015: Part 2

My apologies for the lateness in this post, I originally wrote it before Christmas but my Macbook had some issues so I lost the document. Thank you to those who have read part 1 ! Also are my links to 2014’s album reviews, as well as 2013’s (part 1 & part 2):

July was a good month for album releases, as a good offering from Worship Central Director Tim Hughes was released, entitled ‘Pocketful of Faith.’ The album is based around Hughes’ move to Birmingham (see more here). The title track is particularly good, and there are other nice moments from tracks such as ‘Hope and Glory’ and ‘Symphony’. ‘The Way’ and The Cross Stands’ also feature as “singles” from Worship Central’s previous albums and sound pretty decent in the studio. Hughes has used a Nashville band for this, and the familiar Nathan Nockels produces.

I’ll pause here and make a slight critique
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Review of Worship Albums in 2015: Part 1

There have been a lot of new releases this year in mainstream Christian Worship this year. I’ve purchased quite a few and so I’d like to briefly review some of them, month-by-month through 2015. Click here for my review of 2013 (part 1 and part 2) and 2014’s albums. I’ll also mention at this point that the reviews are not based on lyrical content as such, but primarily musical. The reason for this is that I am reviewing from a musical perspective, and that I believe each album has Biblical, Gospel-centred lyrics. Secondly, I will not be reviewing Christmas albums: sorry!

Ratings:
5/5 – outstanding                           4.5/5 – exceptional                      4/5 – excellent

3.5/5 – very good                            3/5 – good                                     2.5/5 – average

2/5 – below average                       1.5/5 and below – poor

In January,
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Review of Worship Albums 2014

2014 was a pretty decent year for worship and CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) albums – here’s a brief look at what came out. In January Switchfoot released ‘Fading West’ – a really great album, and Casting Crowns put out ‘Thrive’. Elevation Worship’s latest offering ‘Only Kind Forever’ is decent. Nice drumming from Luke Anderson throughout, and the standout song is definitely ‘Grace So Glorious.’ ‘Blessed Assurance’ is also quite good and ‘Glory Is Yours’ is a nice upbeat number. There are some good songs here, although nothing that much different stylistically from their previous. 7/10.

In February, Bethel Music released TIDES LIVE, and in March came the remixes from Hillsong UNITED and Jesus Culture. Kari Jobe also released her album ‘Majestic: Live’ – a decent offering but all-too-similar to other releases to be honest. Planetshakers released ‘Endless Praise’, John Mark McMillan released ‘Borderlands’ and Rend Collective released ‘The Art of Celebration this month too. I quite enjoyed this album, with songs like ‘Joy’, ‘More Than Conquerors’ reminiscent of their early offerings, and ‘My Lighthouse’ being the ‘hit single’, but also songs like ‘Boldly I Approach’ standing out in quieter offerings. 7.5/10.

In April, Paul Baloche released ‘Live’ – a collection of some of his best material. Well produced but not anything different than his others. Like me, though, if you like Baloche, you will enjoy this. 6.5/10. Also this month came Francesca Battistelli’s ‘If We’re Honest’, which I personally enjoyed, and Phil Wickham’s ‘The Ascension.’ Bethel Music released another album, this time from their annual Women’s Conference, the title of this album ‘You Make Me Brave.’ I personally thoroughly enjoyed this, from the drumming to the production, to the all-female vocals. ‘You Make Me Brave’ and ‘Shepherd’ by Amanda Cook, ‘It Is Well’ by Kristene Di Marco and the big version of Jenn Johnson’s ‘Come To Me’ all sound lovely – as do the spontaneous moments. Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger’s ‘We Dance’ is a beautiful intimate track too. If you like Bethel you will like this album. Great mixture of joyful numbers and expressions of reverence. 8.5/10. Also this month was the next Passion album which, again, was a mixed bag for me. Kristian Standfill’s songs sound all-too-similar. My favourite tracks were Redman’s ‘Mercy’ and Christy Nockels ‘You Came To My Rescue.’ 5/10.

May saw the release of Crowder’s first solo album, ‘Neon Steeple’, which I personally enjoyed (7.5/10), and All Sons & Daughters self-titled studio album which I thoroughly enjoyed (9/10). In June, Leeland released a cool EP called ‘Christ Be All Around Me’ (also featured on AS&D album) and in July, Hillsong Worship (no longer called Hillsong Live) released ‘No Other Name.’ It’s a fairly enjoyable album, the title track will no longer be sung in Churches globally (as will ‘The Creed’), and marks what I think is a change for Hillsong. Gone are the ‘big’ moments (mostly) in this album and what arrives are a stream of mid-tempo songs with nice pad sounds and effects. Great to see them step out of the comfort zone and they always write quality songs. ‘Calvary’ is a nice song, as is ‘All Things New.’ Gungor and Tenth Avenue North also released albums this month. August saw the release of Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger’s solo album ‘The Undoing’, as well as Lincoln Brewster’s ‘Oxygen’ (a very “meh” album – overly commercialised and cheesy), Colton Dixon’s ‘Anchor’ and Jars of Clay’s 20th Anniversary release. In September, Lecrae released ‘Anomaly’, Desperation Band ‘Banner’ and Dustin Smith ‘Coming Alive’. Now this is a cracker. Powerful, fiery, prophetic and declarative, and at times vulnerable, its a great album full of a mix moments – definitely worth a listen. 8.5/10.

October saw the release of Planetshakers ‘This Is Our Time’, Kings Kaleidoscope’s ‘Becoming Who We Are’ (see Jesus Freak Hideout for a good review). Chris Tomlin also released ‘Love Ran Red’, yet another safe and unmemorable batch of songs. That doesn’t mean that its not good or that many won’t be sung in Churches, but there are few ‘wow’ moments or times where you feel Tomlin steps outside of his box, apart from maybe ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Boundary Lines’, which are both enjoyable. ‘I Will Boast’ and ‘The Table’ takes us back to 2002-era Tomlin and ‘At The Cross’ is good. 7/10. Also this month came Worship Central’s ‘Set Apart’. I was quite disappointed by this album, to be honest. I expected more creativity (since they say they are big on that), but found little of it – ‘The Way’ is a nice track but with an all-too-similar feel of “let’s do Avicii in the chorus”, but it is expected to be one of the tracks of the coming year. ‘Set Apart’ is also good, and ‘Awesome Is He’ – but apart from that, found myself asking when the strong tracks were to come. Nice spontaneous moment at the end, though. 5/10.

Nothing much more of note towards the tail end of the year, with the exception of Brooke Fraser who released ‘Brutal Romantic’ a great album with lots of wonderful moments – 8.5/10. Misty Edwards, who released ‘Little Bird’ and Andrew Peterson’s ‘After All These Years’. I’ve only listened to the latter and its an excellent collection of Peterson songs past and present. Passion also released a collection of songs.

Over and out! Here’s to 2015!