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Track Listing:

  1. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  2. Just As I Am
  3. On Jordan’s Stormy Banks
  4. It Is Well With My Soul
  5. Just When I Need Him Most
  6. Faith of Our Fathers
  7. Moment By Moment
  8. He Leadeth Me
  9. O Master Let Me Walk With Thee
  10. I Surrender All

SoundCloud Album:

YouTube playlist:

After Acoustic Hymns Vol. 3 was released, I sat down and penciled out FOUR more Hymns albums (Vol. 4, 5, 6, and 7).

I knew the first tune had to be a real “grabber”, so I chose the gorgeous hymn: Great Is Thy Faithfulness.
I like the sheer majesty of this hymn and I hope I did it justice.

The rest of the hymns fell together in their own manner and I’m 100% happy with how they turned out.

Special shoutout to “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks”. I really wanna get done with all of the solo piano albums so that I can possibly start creating some orchestral hymns albums and THIS SONG will be on it. This song DEMANDS a big batch of instruments banging it out. I love singing this song (and leading worship with this song) at church. Neat tune!

Special ADDITIONAL SHOUT OUT to “Moment by Moment”. Okay folks…there’s a real story here. So…back in the day, when my kids were growing up, we had KidPhonics software on a bunch of windows computers in the basement (we basically almost had a one room schoolhouse down there…heh heh). ANYWAY…there was this amazing song in the software (actually there were multiple amazing songs on the original KidPhonics software disk…but I’m just gonna draw your attention to ONE of them) called “Are You Listening”. You can hear it in all its glory here: Listen carefully to that intro. Sounds kind of like the turnaround in Moment by Moment, no? That’s because I TOTALLY ripped off that little I chord up to IV chord back to I chord down to V chord. Yup. Stolen. There was another song on that software disc called “Give Me Five” which you can hear here (HEAR HEAR!!): Check it out…THAT SONG IS IN 5/4 time (which is very NOT standard!). So they were using a 5/4 song to teach kids about phonics. Whomever the musicians were on the KidPhonics software discs: bravo, I say, bravo.

I’m a real stickler for having a “flow” or “pacing” of the album and I like how that turned out too where the more energetic hymns are sprinkled through there but the album ends on two softer hymns (“O Master Let Me Walk With Thee”, and “I Surrender All”) which is also exactly what I wanted.

Once all 7 Volumes of Hymns albums are done, I will probably build some YouTube videos where I do compilations of, say, the faster tempo hymns from multiple albums on one video, maybe the mid-tempo hymns from multiple albums on another video and the slower, more contemplative hymns from multiple albums on yet another video.

I continued to come up with little “turnarounds” or intros or whatever you wanna call the little 2-3 measure doo-dads that I use to glue the different verses together. I also continued with the general arrangement style of: start with the chorus most times (high on the keyboard register) and then have a little turnaround and then start the 1st verse and do it somewhat “minimal” (not a huge bunch of notes or large chords or anything). Then as the song builds, go up to the upper register on the keyboard again and play the next verse/chorus, then drop back down to the normal middle register of the keyboard for the 3rd or last verse and usually throw in a key change to make things interesting. Finally build the ending up to the higher register at the top of the keys and resolve the chord. Then as the last chord is fading away, I usually echo the chorus line waaaay up at the top of the keyboard very faintly. That’s my little “bye fer now…remember this tune in yer head” thing.

I made a really small tweak to the Vintage Compressor setting where I amplified the overall volume level up to +4 dB. This is probably the HIGHEST I will go (in my attempt to get a nice hot signal but not have obvious compression artifacts and/or a dampening of my overall dynamics). Yeah…mastering is an art, and I probably haven’t “mastered” it yet (see what I did there?!). See the screenshot of my Logic Pro X settings down below. Apple came out with a really cool Mastering toolkit in the most recent revision of Logic Pro X, but I chose NOT to use it because I didn’t like what it brought out in the mid-range of the grand piano sound that I used. If I had had more time, I could have possibly come up with a suitable use of the new mastering toolkit thingey. We’ll see on future albums I suppose.

So I decided to continue using the “Hamburg” preset on the Yamaha CP88 keyboard. This is a gorgeous sample of a 9 foot Steinway grand piano that Yamaha sampled in Hamburg, Germany. They cannot use the “Steinway” name due to copyright issues. But yes folks, this is a true Steinway in all its glorious “woodiness”, nice bold bass notes and slightly tinkly highs. Perhaps what I like MOST about this particular preset on the CP88 is that it is, to my ears, the most CLEAR grand piano on the entire CP88 in the ENTIRE range of the keyboard. In other words, there are ZERO spots on the keyboard where the grand piano sound gets muddy or unclear or lost. I really feel I can “speak” adequately with this particular preset when compared to the other grand pianos on the CP88.

Things I would do differently: allllllmost nothing. I started this album in mid-July 2023 and finished it on 11/29/2023, just a little over 4 months of work. I WILL say that some of the songs maybe are a tad too “bangy” (since I kind of want these hymns albums to be suitable for having on in the background and I worry that the “bangier” tunes will possibly jar the listener out of their reverie…but hey…it’s who I am and how I play…so what can I say?). Some of the arrangements might be a tad too simplistic, but then again, each time I attempt to get “busy” with the arrangement, God nudges me to simplify. This was especially true on the last track “I Surrender All”. Just had to keep simplifying that tune to get it to “feel right”.

Hoping this blesses you! I was very blessed in the arranging/recording process. I love these hymns!

A quick discussion of my “process”:

  1. Once I have the track list mostly set in stone for a given album, I then just start with the first song and attack each song in order.
  2. I play through the Hymn as though I was leading worship with it. In other words, much simpler, not a true arrangement yet.
  3. I then begin working out the overall structure of the arrangement such as:
    • Build the Intro
    • Determine how/where I’ll play the 1st verse/chorus.
    • Work up any “turnarounds” or other mechanisms to get me from each verse/chorus to the next one.
    • Work through a transition to get to the higher end of the keyboard for 2nd or 3rd verse.
    • Figure out the last verse/chorus (how big is it going to be, will there be a key change, etc.).
    • Build the final turnaround/transition up to the high end of the keyboard for the last flourish and then last chord at the bottom of keyboard.
    • Determine whether to do the “whisper” thing (play the chorus line one laaaast time at the very top of the keyboard).
  4. Here is where things can get tortuous. I then play the song over and over to nail down ALL of Bullet 3 above and this can require playing the hymn probably between 30-50 times until I’m ready to record it.
  5. Recording the song in Logic Pro X takes anywhere from 2-5 hours.
    • By the by: these songs are ONE SINGLE TAKE. Now sure…it might take 2 or more hours to finally get it right, but if I make a single mistake anywhere during the song, I stop, hit undo, rewind, hit Record, and start again. Yeah it can get mind-numbingly crazy depending on how many times it takes…but that’s my process. I don’t want to “stitch” together various parts of the song from multiple takes. I just want one performance that nails it.
    • On the entire album, I think I may have fixed maaaaaybe 5 notes total. And these are usually accidental notes I brushed with a finger on the way to another note or something. As I’m playing through the song if I hit one of these and it’s a single slurred note and it doesn’t ruin the rest of the song, I’ll keep going, get to the end, hit Stop Recording and then go back and remove THAT ONE accidental note (they’re usually very quiet). Like I said, maybe had 5 of those on the entire album…so that’s a pretty low amount of fixing anything. I’m also doing it this way because it forces me to be able to perform these arrangements live in concert some day (we shall see).
  6. Until I get halfway done (5 songs done), I typically listen to the initial songs on SoundCloud only while working and/or surfing the internet at night.
  7. Once 5 songs are done and usually every song thereafter, I burn a CD and then I listen to the album as its coming together while in the car driving to work and/or around town. As I complete each next song, I burn a fresh CD and keep listening. Are you getting the message on how much I INUNDATE myself in these tunes? I want them to be as well rounded and perfect as I can make them.
  8. I’m writing this on 11/29/2023 and TODAY I burned the ENTIRE CD (all 10 songs) and listened to it around town and LOVED IT! YES! Everything sounds exactly like I wanted it to. So if I’m happy, here’s hoping YOU’LL be happy and blessed with it.
  9. Almost forgot: once I’m completely satisfied, I upload the songs and the artwork to CD Baby (which is my “pipeline” to get the music onto the streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, etc.). It then takes 1-2 weeks for this album to show up in the streaming services.
  10. CD Baby then somehow creates the YouTube videos, but they are fairly boring in that they just have the album cover as the “video”. I typically replace the CD Baby generated videos with videos of my own (usually with video shot in Idaho or Washington of places I’ve been that I happen to love).
  11. OH! The album cover was shot by my wife, Kathy Selby on an iPhone 13 standard model when she was in her little kayak on Deer Creek Reservoir in North Central Idaho. In the spring of 2024, I will probably try to get some video on Deer Creek Res and use it for these songs. It’s a gorgeous place (with plenty of trout!).
  12. I shall now take a slight break from solo piano hymns albums to work on a vocal album of children’s hymns (for the beebies!!). I found a way to record these children’s hymns such that the vocal is breathy and reverby and really “sing-along-able” for the children in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) International. Then it’s ON TO ACOUSTIC HYMNS VOLUMES 5, 6, and 7!! Yee haw!

Logic Pro X settings (click to enlarge):