Posted In: Published Music
The wait is over! Many have asked, How (or when) can I get the sheet music for the songs on your Wondrous Love CD? I’m pleased to announce that all of the songs from Wondrous Love have been published by Alfred Music Publishing in two Sacred Performer Collections: Wondrous Hymns, Books 1 & 2.
Wondrous Hymns, Book 1:
8 Contemporary Arrangements of Traditional Hymns of Hope
Publisher’s description: Arranger James Koerts thoughtfully created these fresh renditions of traditional hymns. His contemporary arranging style, which blends syncopated rhythms and unexpected key changes, is sure to encourage inspired performances. Titles: Amazing Grace * Day by Day * He Leadeth Me * Jesus Is All the World to Me * Love Lifted Me * My Redeemer * Only Trust Him * ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.
Wondrous Hymns, Book 2:
8 Contemporary Arrangements of Traditional Hymns of Power
Publisher’s description: Arranger James Koerts thoughtfully created these fresh renditions of traditional hymns. His contemporary arranging style, which blends syncopated rhythms and unexpected key changes, is sure to encourage inspired performances. Titles: Crown Him with Many Crowns * Holy, Holy, Holy * I Sing the Mighty Power of God * I Stand Amazed in the Presence * It Is Well with My Soul * Our Great Savior * The Solid Rock * What Wondrous Love Is This?
Also, check out these collections:
At the time of this writing, it’s been a little over a year since the release of my piano and orchestra CD, Wondrous Love. I could never adequately describe to you what a joy it was to be given the unique privilege to work with such talented musicians in the production of this project. It just seems like yesterday that we were in the studio recording with the orchestra, then laying down the piano tracks, and then proceeding with the mixing process that followed.
I’m grateful for the positive “buzz” this project has created too. It seems a lot of people have been looking for something different and fresh, and by all accounts, that’s what Wondrous Love is.
Here are a few updates regarding this project:
- You can still purchase Wondrous Love from this site, as well as from other retailers. We still have plenty in stock, so place your order today!
- We have special wholesale pricing for bookstores and retailers. Please contact me about more information.
- You can download digital copies of the CD for $9.99 at Bandcamp (where you can also get a free track) and SacredAudio.
- Many people have asked if and when the sheet music from this project will be available. I can partially let the cat out of the bag, but not completely. The manuscripts have been picked up by a major publisher, and are scheduled to be released sometime this year. However, I don’t want to give you too many details until I have signed a contract, which I anticipate will happen any day now.
- A couple of people have asked about the orchestrations. These are available for purchase; please contact me if you’re interested.
Thanks for your support and continued interest in my ministry. May Christ be glorified through our music!
Recording the piano tracks was probably the most challenging aspect of the recording process. Though I did study as a pianist in college, I found my career leading me in a slightly different path, focusing more on the organization, development, and implementation of corporate church worship, as well as leading various musical groups, with a primary focus on the choir. Through the years I have used my skills as a pianist primarily as a spring-board to facilitate the writing of vocal and instrumental music. And while I often hear the compliment (or criticism—I can never tell) that my songs sound like they were written by a pianist, I felt like I had little time to actively develop my skill of piano playing.
So the obvious challenge was to rise to a new level, and actually become a “performer.” That means I actually had to practice my songs (cherish the thought!). It was a good discipline, and it paid off in the studio. I obviously don’t think I performed perfectly, but I am overall pleased with the final product. We tend to be our own worst critics, so I know where the flaws are (maybe you do too), but this was an opportunity for growth, and I viewed it as such.
The piano I recorded on was a Yamaha C7. From the get-go, you need to know that I’m a huge Yamaha piano fan. Even more than a Steinway. (I probably just lost some readers there.) I’m simply enamored with the touch of the instrument, as well as the sound. (And, I’m told by those who know more than I do that Yamaha incorporates the earlier, now public domain technology of Steinways. So we’re in good company.) I’m really not sure how to explain this, but there’s something about playing on a superior instrument (unlike the typical instruments in our churches or homes) that really inspire creativity. I actually play better on a great instrument. Some of you would probably be surprised to know this, but I write the majority of my music on a Yamaha Clavinova. While it’s a great keyboard (and a Yamaha), it pales in comparison to what it would be like to write on an acoustic piano. (I once heard of a song-writer who said that writing music on a keyboard is like kissing your wife through a screen door… it’s not quite the same.)
The other major challenge involved keeping in time with the orchestra tracks. I know of some musicians who take time (sometimes months) to rehearse with the orchestra tracks before they record the piano tracks. That’s a great idea, if you have the time. But as I was recording in Indiana (and home is Georgia), we needed to complete the majority of the project in the space of five days. That meant I had to be flexible and adapt to subtle tempo nuances that don’t exist when it’s just you at the keyboard. Although we had what’s known as a “click track” (which in essence is the result of a musician playing a clicking sound from a keyboard while the orchestra played), it still was a challenge to stay on the beat. Further, for difficult spots, I had to be willing to do multiple takes just to get it right. Then there were the times when I just felt like the music would need to be adapted for special considerations. (For example, the piano part in “Amazing Grace” was highly improvised, the piano near the end of “I Stand Amazed” was added to provide a more vigorously percussive element to the brass section, and the run at the end of “I Sing the Mighty Power” never did fit with the orchestra’s run, so I just played three eighth notes. These are just a few examples.)
This was a genuinely rewarding experience, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it. It is thrilling to see how God is using this music for His kingdom.
Here I am playing through a song while listening to the orchestra tracks in my head-set. Isn’t that a pretty cool grey board behind the music? That was a cork board that allowed you to pin up your music, should you have a lot of pages. I believe it’s an official accessory found on the Yamaha website.
Exciting news here at Koerts Music. All the tracks to my recent recording project, “Wondrous Love,” are now available for download. Here are some features you can expect:
- Enjoy full-length previews. Don’t waste time listening to a thirty or sixty second clip. Preview each track of “Wondrous Love” in its entirety.
- Purchase individual tracks for $.99 each, or the entire album for $9.99. (Available in various formats.)
- Download a free track! (No. 14, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” is available completely free.)
- Easily share this CD page with your friends and family through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and many others.
Visit us at: http://koertsmusic.bandcamp.com
There are so many different things involved in a project of this size that I’m sure I’ll forget something. Making a recording was an amazing experience, and it really seemed like a whirlwind.
When I arrived at the Indianapolis airport, I was greeted by Mac and Beth Lynch, and Tim Fisher. Mac served in more of a producer role, as he had the inside knowledge of the studio, etc. Also, being the orchestrator, he assisted with the organization of the orchestrations as well as many other areas along with Beth. Tim, also a regular at this studio, had the responsibility of directing the orchestra—and he did so masterfully. Over a brief lunch at Applebee’s we discussed how things would work this week, the in’s and out’s of the studio, and how the orchestra worked. We then went directly to the studio to record for the next eight hours.
This was one of the most fascinating aspects of the project. Hearing a full orchestra live, recording my music, is really a difficult experience to describe. Suffice it to say, it was exhilarating.
The instrumentalists—who had never seen my music before—received the music, and they sight-read each piece, almost perfectly. After we would run-through a song, Tim would discuss with me how it went, and together we would make any last minute feasible adjustments necessary to interpret the song the way I had intended. Then we would record it. Mac, Beth and I, along with the engineers would listen carefully and critically to determine how each recording went. Here’s the neat thing: if a mistake was made (or, more accurately, if a mistake was caught), we didn’t need to record the whole song over again. With the technology in the studio, you can just “punch in” at most any location in the music. (Yes, I know. Gone are the days of striving for an “excellent” performance. Yes, a studio even makes me sound good!) So if a French Horn played a wrong note, or a flute forgot to come in, or even if a percussionist dropped his mallet or a chair squeaked, we would only need to back up a few measures in the music and begin recording again. (This is a very complex process that I am not nearly qualified to explain; I’m just attempting to share it in terms that make sense to me.)
We weren’t sure we’d get to finish all the songs. In fact, a song that we thought we might not be able to record the orchestra for was Amazing Grace. After listening to it for several months now, I really can’t imagine it without the orchestration, so I’m grateful we were able to include it. By God’s grace, we finished early that night.
The next day I would record the piano tracks. Was I ready? Had I prepared well enough? How responsive was the instrument I was playing? More about that later.
Here’s a fun picture I took while at the studio:
The Decision Making Process
When it became a reality that I was given the rare opportunity to record a piano CD, I had a lot of decisions to make. What songs should I record? Where should I record? Should I record just piano, or should it be piano and orchestra? If I used orchestra, who would orchestrate the songs? Now, you have to understand something about me. It is difficult for me to make decisions. In fact, I’m not sure of the scientific validity of this, but it seems that my brain begins to seize up with the more options I’m given. My wife doesn’t enjoy making decisions either, so it has become a source of humor in our family. (You should see us at a fast food drive through window!) It became obvious that a project of this undertaking would require a lot of prayer and advice from colleagues and friends who were familiar with the process.
Helpful to the decision making process was the fact that my church family was very supportive of my talents. I have often heard someone say “I would love to have a CD of your piano playing.” So I knew that whatever music was on this project, it would have to be a sampling of what I do on a regular basis in our church. I viewed it as an opportunity to—in a sense—extend the work of the church to people’s homes and cars. My desire is that the music in the church emphasize the message; either the message of the song, or the message preached by our pastor.
Beginning the song selection process was one of the most difficult aspects of the project. I didn’t have an arsenal of songs waiting to be recorded. In fact, I had written very little for piano in the past, and what I had written I wasn’t very pleased with. (That’s one of the joys of composing and arranging: After you set it down for awhile—days, months, or years—when you return to it, you usually see several changes and adjustments that you would make. I suppose that is evidence that we are continually growing in our skill. Still, some of my earlier songs make me groan when I see them!) I decided to keep two from my college days (“I Sing the Mighty Power of God”, with some major changes, and “My Redeemer”). Then I just began arranging songs, one by one. I would usually spend an evening hammering out a song. Songs that “came quickly” to me I was able to write in a few hours. Other songs took a few evenings to finish. I asked my wife what song she wanted on the project, and she said “Day by Day” (track 5). I dedicated “Our Great Savior” (track 3) to my son, because the mood (joyful and flamboyant) fit him well. In addition, I dedicated “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” (track 4) to my daughter, because the mood (tenderly and precious) also fit her well.
I then decided that I wanted to have some instrumentation. Since I have very little experience with this, I asked an orchestrator to be involved in the process. After viewing some of my arrangements, he suggested I consider having a few of the songs fully orchestrated, as they seemed to lend themselves well to full instrumentation. Easily persuaded, I agreed. But I still wanted to maintain quite a bit of variety; the goal was to have a few solo piano tracks, a few tracks with an instrumental obbligato, a few tracks with instrumental ensembles, and a few tracks with full orchestra. Hand in glove with this decision was the decision to record in Indianapolis at Aire Borne Studios. My orchestrator was familiar with their personnel, and had worked extensively with them in the past. The project was beginning to take shape.
Last November I was given the tremendous opportunity to record an instrumental CD. This collection of inspirational Christian favorites will encourage you as you listen to a mix of piano, ensemble, and full orchestral selections.
This CD is now available for purchase at koertsmusic.com.