Category Archives: creative process

“Acoustic Mass” demos

For awhile now, we’ve been working on an acoustic “mass setting” which, for those of you not familiar with liturgical traditions, are the sung parts of the liturgy – the Kyrie (“Lord, have mercy”), Gloria (“Glory to God in the highest”), Credo (The Apostles’ Creed), Sanctus/Benedictus (“Holy, holy, holy”), and Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the word / have mercy on us”).

So far we have three parts written, the Gloria, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei, and continue working on the other two.  We’ve also managed to find time amidst ministry and family to lay down rough demos of two sections (do you know how hard it is to find time to record when you have three kids under age 5?!). These are works in progress, and even though they are nowhere near as lovely as they’ll be once we add Gloria’s vocal, we wanted to share them and give you a glimpse of the creative process.

Agnus Dei by The Italics

Sanctus & Benedictus by The Italics

If these might be useful in your church context, feel free to use them – if you’d like chord charts, just leave a comment or shoot us an email.

P.S. the Sanctus features Brannon’s official banjo debut. Let us know what you think!

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Adventures in Songwriting: Agnus Dei

Not sure what got up my nose, but somehow I just sneezed out this Agnus Dei (at least it was about as easy, natural and satisfying as a sneeze). I am also working on a Gloria and a Sanctus & Benedictus to round out an acoustic mass for folkies. It’s nearly complete so stay tuned for additional videos.

I find that certain instruments inspire me to play differently, sing differently, find different melodies, etc, and sometimes the words just flow out and fall into place. This session, fiddling with my wife’s old 1960s Yamaha FG-150 acoustic (recently back from Dayton’s guitar doctor c. wright, although it’s going back to him soon to have that Baggs M1A pickup installed properly), is evidence of this… minor chords and aeolian melodies are not my default setting at all… but it kinda works with the Agnus Dei text. I hope you enjoy it! (Chord chart is included in the description on the youtube page.)

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singing softly, late at night

Hypothesis: it is inevitable that having children would impact the volume – and hence the style – of our music. The rock and roll days are past – not that we won’t or don’t still rock out on occasion (can one “rock” the melodica, I wonder?), but things do change.  Styles change. Bodies change. Preferences too. Rooms change. Conversations (we used to talk about theology and world cinema; now it has a lot to do with discipline and bodily functions). Kids induce and heighten all this…

When do you rehearse? Well, between getting the boys in bed and getting ourselves in bed, of course.  So what does an Italics rehearsal sound like? you ask…

…like muted melodies and hushed harmonies…whispered words and faint strumming (fingers; no picks! too loud!)…like conspirators plotting under the cover of darkness…like two lovers engaged in their most intimate act/art, trying desperately not to disturb the two by-products of that love sleeping down the hall…

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