Monday, March 4, 2019

Self-publishing my worship songs

I've talked about it forever, but this past weekend I decided to finally act.  I've setup a GitHub repository to which I intend to commit sheet music for the various Christian worship songs that I compose.  You can visit the project at:
I've added the music from my recent "Shepherd of My Soul" composition (which my worship team at Providence introduced to our congregation brilliantly this past weekend, I might add!), plus a few other songs.  I also have placeholders for several other tunes that I'm committing to self-publish here, too.

Those who know me well know that I can be pretty outspoken about copyrights and licensing and such, especially as regards music written (at least ostensibly) "for God" or "for the Church".  This is why every worship song I've written carries a Creative Commons license.  But while it's all well and good to say, "My songs I offer without restrictive licensing," it matters little if there are other barriers to sharing and re-use.  This self-publishing effort is a way for me to remove some more of those barriers.  I genuinely want folks to take and use these songs with minimal impediment if they find them worth taking and using, and I'm willing to put in the extra effort to encourage as much.

My goal is to keep for each song MuseScore files withat a minimumlead sheets for the songs, plus MusicXML and PDF exports of the same.  I could, of course, just use PDFs, but that would discourage getting corrections submitted by folks who are far better at musical transcription than I am.  It would also prevent easy transposition of the songs into alternate keys.  At the moment, you can load the score into MuseScore, select the whole score (Control-A), and then use the Notes > Transpose... menu to put the song in whatever key you wish.  It's that simple!  Someday I may also include links to recorded demos of the songs, specific hints for individual instruments, etc.

May God bless this tiny little human's effort to make His praise even more widespread.

Friday, March 1, 2019

"Feel Just Fine"

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable musical recording experiences I've ever been a part of began in June 2009, when friend and former bandmate Christopher Bunn emailed me to say that he had an opportunity to contribute a song for an independent film project to which he had personal connections and wanted to rope me into the process.  Naturally, I was all in!

We started with his demo of a song he'd written called "Feel Just Fine", and then iterated lyrically and musically across the miles (me in North Carolina, he in California, and the Internet in between) for about three months, passing around emailed suggestions and audio files and such.  I held the master recordings (as a Cakewalk Sonar project), and tracked all the instruments plus my own and my wife's background vocals.  Christopher was taking drops of the backing stuff from me, tracking his own lead vocals atop them, and then sending me back the vocal tracks.  All in all, the process ran incredibly smoothly, even for a time when "broadband Internet" wasn't anything like the blazing speeds we enjoy today.  We ended up keeping most of Christopher's original song, but dropped a verse that didn't fit as well thematically with the film and introduced a new bridge section that I wrote.

As I review my email history, it looks like it was December 2009 when we learned that the filmmakers were interested in our song, but it wouldn't be until several years later that we finally got to see the finished film, Rise of the Fellowship, and hear our song playing in full during the credit roll.  Some time after the film itself released, the producers released the film's soundtrack, and now you, too, can hear "Feel Just Fine".

Christopher Bunn - original song concept, lead vocals
C. Michael Pilato - arrangement, all instruments, background vocals
Amy Pilato - angelic background vocals
Christopher has his original demo of the song posted online, too.  Check it out at