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  1. #81

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by cjmdsax View Post
    At my church, sax as a standalone accompanying instrument is a past thing. You'll see it in a horn line, which happens maybe once a month. The reason is that the music sticks pretty closely to a certain form of the latest songs coming out, and none of that music has sax. It's mostly guitar driven. So, in the mind of the music director, if he doesn't hear it on the original recordings, he pretty much doesn't do it.

    At least I can play keyboards, so I can still make music that way.

    There is a bit of a negative undercurrent at our church concerning the sax but that's mostly among the older generation. Guess they haven't gotten over the lifestyles of some of the jazz players of their era enough to see that is isn't the instrument, it's the player.

    However, now that the sax heydays of the 80's and 90's are done (at least as far as a lot of christian pop and worship music goes) the sax seems less well accepted even among some of the younger crowd. I find this interesting since, at our church, it was a must-have not too long ago.
    actually, i've noticed the same thing in my church. and there are very seldom any instrumental solos, if at all. for that matter, there aren't any vocal improv's. almost always by the book.

    that may be more of the staff worship leader's style than anything else. the previous WL had a much more energetic, entertaining style that allowed for solos/improv (and it was much more engaging and lively IMO). with the new WL (maybe 2-3yrs now), the sax player has stopped playing. the band does a lot of contemporary christian music.

  2. #82

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by hakukani View Post
    All the Bible verses concern making music, not listening to it. Everyone is commanded to make music, in my reading.
    then sing, jerk
    ...my eyes have seen your salvation, that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

  3. #83
    SOTW Administrator hakukani's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by clhuff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hakukani View Post
    All the Bible verses concern making music, not listening to it. Everyone is commanded to make music, in my reading.
    then sing, jerk
    Every day, every way.

    "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that
    needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
    II Timothy 2:15

    How does one tell whether their music is having an uplifting effect or an entertaining effect?

    The answer is obvious.
    You can't tell. Therefore, all Christians must participate in the music making. The entire congregation must participate in the praising, not just a select few.


    "I want to learn to swim. There -- out to sea -- I have heard tell of a magnificent island.
    You seem reluctant. Do you want to bargain about it?
    No, I truly want to learn. I truly want to go. However, I have to take my ton of cabbage.
    What cabbage?
    The food which I will need when I am on the other island.
    There is better food there.
    I don’t know what you mean. I cannot be sure. I must take my cabbage.
    You cannot swim with a ton of cabbage.
    Then I cannot go."
    Sound guy theory of relativity: E=mc^2 (+or- 3dB)
    Sax player theory of relativity: E=mc^2 (+or- .010" at the tip)
    "Free jazz is the vegemite of the musical world. It's an acquired taste."-J. Jacques

  4. #84
    Forum Contributor 2009 DesertCreature's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by cjmdsax View Post
    At my church, sax as a standalone accompanying instrument is a past thing. You'll see it in a horn line, which happens maybe once a month. The reason is that the music sticks pretty closely to a certain form of the latest songs coming out, and none of that music has sax. It's mostly guitar driven. So, in the mind of the music director, if he doesn't hear it on the original recordings, he pretty much doesn't do it.

    At least I can play keyboards, so I can still make music that way.

    ...

    However, now that the sax heydays of the 80's and 90's are done (at least as far as a lot of christian pop and worship music goes) the sax seems less well accepted even among some of the younger crowd. I find this interesting since, at our church, it was a must-have not too long ago.
    Nice post. You bring up a couple of very good points. However, I think the essense of these issues is not Christian-music specific, but to the use of sax in contemporary pop/rock in general. Contemporary Christian Music is both leading and following the direction of pop/rock.

    In the first instance, it gets down to a bands approach to playing covers. Even original artists interpret their own stuff differently, so "whether the sax" as a stand-alone has more to do with what's there potentially in the music, not the instrumentation used in original recording. Of course the brass line works easily and is golden if you can get it. [But in your specific case its useless to go against the music leader.]

    On your second point concerning acceptance of the sax among youth, I suspect it is #1 due to lack of exposure in the music teens are listening to today rather than a generational prejudice against sax, and #2 largely an America-only phenomenon. Not that I'm well-traveled but I get the general impression that the sax is well accepted in pop/rock audiences outside the USA, whether stand-alone or in a brass line.

    At the risk of hijacking this thread (sorry - ), I do fear that the sax may be going the way of the trumpet in terms of popularity among American youth. We're not there yet, but I can see it coming. Hopefully I'm just paranoid. But in case I'm not, I think there are two general perceptions responsible for moving public perception of the sax into obsolescence -

    sax = jazz;
    sax playing = soloing.

    Personally, I think the future of sax is outside of jazz (as much as it pains me to say that) and its successful employment in accompaniment rather than soling. This means doing the very thing that your music leader doesn't envision, putting the sax stand-alone into a contemporary pop/rock set, and the sax player (or arranger) figuring out how to selectively add something unique and enhancing to the music.
    So what, I'm the bass player.

  5. #85

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by hakukani View Post
    I feel that a capella singing is the most beautiful and spiritual singing, regardless of whether it's done as a Gregorian chant, Fasola singing, Muslim chants, Sufi Dervish chants, or Tibetan harmonic chant.

    My fear in having praise bands is that the music becomes entertainment for the non-musician. How does one tell whether their music is having an uplifting effect or an entertaining effect?
    with all the different tastes, preferences and ideas about music, it must be hard to dodge bullets being a worship leader in church.

    personally, i don't like performing a-capella (i can tolerate it for a short time). the instuments add something special for me.

    as for entertainment vs uplift, i think both are valid anyway. the only time the music in church doesn't function is when the non-musician can't relate or isn't given appropriate time to participate, but that gets back to "different tastes, preferences and ideas about music".
    i've spoken with 'church musicians' concerned about this, worrying about being 'spiritual' enough during performance, as if "being entertaining" is somehow offensive to God or bad for the body. however, the most engaging and uplifting churches i've been in have some hopping, rockin, groovin, etc worship that is, by itself, quite entertaining. even the songs/performances meant as solos(non-audience participation) minister. some folks may look at that as a non-value to their worship, but i and many others value it as ministry. (that's how david ministered to saul.).

  6. #86
    cjmdsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertCreature View Post

    Nice post. You bring up a couple of very good points. However, I think the essense of these issues is not Christian-music specific, but to the use of sax in contemporary pop/rock in general.
    Yeah, the scene has changed.

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertCreature View Post
    Contemporary Christian Music is both leading and following the direction of pop/rock.

    In the first instance, it gets down to a bands approach to playing covers. Even original artists interpret their own stuff differently, so "whether the sax" as a stand-alone has more to do with what's there potentially in the music, not the instrumentation used in original recording. Of course the brass line works easily and is golden if you can get it. [But in your specific case its useless to go against the music leader.]
    What's there potentially always includes a sax . But seriously, electric guitar now fills that role. If there are fills to be made or little solos to be played it's almost always on guitar. Another consideration is that the rhythm section, including the electric guitarist, are hired guns and are very good at what they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertCreature View Post
    On your second point concerning acceptance of the sax among youth, I suspect it is #1 due to lack of exposure in the music teens are listening to today rather than a generational prejudice against sax, and #2 largely an America-only phenomenon. Not that I'm well-traveled but I get the general impression that the sax is well accepted in pop/rock audiences outside the USA, whether stand-alone or in a brass line.

    At the risk of hijacking this thread (sorry - ), I do fear that the sax may be going the way of the trumpet in terms of popularity among American youth. We're not there yet, but I can see it coming. Hopefully I'm just paranoid. But in case I'm not, I think there are two general perceptions responsible for moving public perception of the sax into obsolescence -

    sax = jazz;
    sax playing = soloing.
    To be more specific, he basically said the sax sounds too much like being in a bar. In this case it was tenor sax. A switch to soprano cured it, but even soprano is out of vogue due to overexposure to Mr. G. This from the same guy who had to have a sax 5 - 10 years ago. Not sure if that's his opinion or if he's echoing the opinions of others. So guitar, which is more likely to be heard in a bar, doesn't remind people of that while the sax does? Strange cultural shift.

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertCreature View Post
    Personally, I think the future of sax is outside of jazz (as much as it pains me to say that) and its successful employment in accompaniment rather than soling. This means doing the very thing that your music leader doesn't envision, putting the sax stand-alone into a contemporary pop/rock set, and the sax player (or arranger) figuring out how to selectively add something unique and enhancing to the music.
    A lot of my sax playing career has been outside of jazz. There are still current styles that use it. R&B, Black Gospel, Rap (once in a while), Blues, probably others, but its mostly new tunes in those older forms. There still seems to be some life and interest in these styles. I'd like to see more of that in our church. Or just more open-mindedness.

  7. #87
    cjmdsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by hakukani View Post
    How does one tell whether their music is having an uplifting effect or an entertaining effect?

    The answer is obvious.
    You can't tell. Therefore, all Christians must participate in the music making. The entire congregation must participate in the praising, not just a select few.
    Definitely. Some can do it with instruments, some with singing, some just make a joyful noise. And it can all be done together. A capella is very cool though. It's nice to actually hear everyone's voices once in a while. As an instrumentalist, I regard the voice as THE primary instrument. The rest can enhance it, but can never completely replace it. IMO.

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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Yes, there is. Your congregation thinks narrowly like many Fundamentalists. The choice is yours: Stay and worship and play elsewhere or leave, period and play elsewhere. The Constitution guarantees you that right.

  9. #89

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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by djcuba908 View Post
    I'm pretty sure at one point or another, every intrument that has been introduced into church was considered "from the devil" at one point or another. My father in law, who is the senior pastor at my church (River of Life Church in Doyelstown, PA) played the drums in a rock band in Baltimore growing up with his brothers. After becoming a Christian as a teenager (in the 70's), he was invited to play drums at his uncle's church, and was told that he was going to hell, and to stay away from the church because they didn't want him around their young women. He is now a professionally trained musician with dual degrees from college in Pastoral Ministries and Music, and our worship team is AWESOME.

    As for the sax having a place in Christian music, dude it's everywhere! Clint Brown, solo artist, band leader, and pastor at Faith World ministries in Orlando has a horn section with sax. Countless other worship ministries do. If you give me your email address I will send you two awesome worship songs with sax on them. One is by Michael Flowers and the other is by Free Chapel ministries.
    He was always a Christian, even before. I hope he is making money and he should still play his gigs. Remember that jazz, blues, r/r, r/b came right out of these same churches. I just head blues on WBGO-FM-right out of the Pentecostal church was the meter.

  10. #90

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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    guys, praise your god, like i do and enjoy "the devil"s music." life is too short.

  11. #91
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    I was trying to see if I had already weighed in on this conversation since church playing is what I do. But I don't see where I did so here ya' go:

    Quote Originally Posted by hakukani View Post
    How does one tell whether their music is having an uplifting effect or an entertaining effect?

    The answer is obvious.
    You can't tell. Therefore, all Christians must participate in the music making. The entire congregation must participate in the praising, not just a select few.
    Yep. You can tell. At least I can.

    On a purely measurable level, our playing in church adds excitement and something different most churches like mine don't have. It's easy to see the energy that gets added to the service.

    And on a spiritual level, when we raise up worthy praise to the Lord, that spirit spreads and the whole service can sometimes take on a more intense feeling and helpfully brings people closer to the Lord. There's a lady at our church that sometimes sings with her husband. Her singing effects me this way. I believe and hope that our playing does the same for others. And I know it does because some tell me it does. This is my goal when I arrange music, lead our orchestra or play my sax. I believe it is a fundamental purpose for me being in this world. So yes, I try my best to measure it.
    Good Luck,

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  12. #92
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by keithsy View Post
    guys, praise your god, like i do and enjoy "the devil"s music." life is too short.
    Devil's music?

    An old writer noted for having bad knees once wrote that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

    Respectfully, if there is such a thing as "Devil's music" it probably has to do with a certain parable that talks about how unwashed hands will never defile us, but there's things that can come from our hearts that can. If you're interested, just Google "parable unwashed hands".

    Just like with any good performance, for a worship service you should know your audience and choose music that will reach them, whether it's Christian hip-hop or old southern gospel. There is no "bad" music type for worship as long as it has the Christian message you want to give and it can reach the audience you are performing for.
    Good Luck,

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  13. #93
    Forum Contributor 2009 saxguy007's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    I think it's safe to say that the OP's experience is probably not common these days, fortunately. Much of the rest of Christianity has moved on. If I recall an old sermon correctly, Charles Wesley based much of the foundational hymns of the Methodist church on "contemporary" tavern song melodies, to make them accessible!

    I agree with a previous post that pointed out that contemporary Christian music is largely following the wake of modern top-40 in its tone, vocal stylings, guitar and keyboard stylings and production etc, only with Christian-themed lryics.

    This is why I largely can't stand it, even though I am a purveyor of it on Sunday mornings myself. Aside from Israel Houghton, Lincoln Brewster, Tommy Walker, and a few others, it's usually chinga-guitar-heavy wall of strumming with no groove. Precious little space for fills.

    My church meets out of a high school (though we bought a two-story office building recently, and are working to convert part of it into a sanctuary, and we do two contemporary services (i.e. drum set with electric guitar/bass/keys and 3-4 singers and worship leader out front). For some context, my church is affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church and has a very cerebral "keep it real" approach to Christianity and the bible, IMHO. Our doctrine focuses on essential theological principles of who Jesus was and why it matters, but lets congregants draw their own conclusions as to whether the earth is only 6000 years old, or whether one should rely on Genesis for spiritual more than historical truth, for example. The thought that any one particular instrument would be evil would strike people at my church as absurd.

    For years, we musician volunteers were given some latitude, and a core of us jazz and funk-heads would play jazzified arrangements of hymns and even a couple jazz-fusion originals during offeratory. I received a lot of positive feedback from congregants after services back then, and I played a lot of solos. Then my church hired a full-time music minister who is a singer/guitarist (veteran of bar bands), and he prefers the Chris Tomlin/Jeremy Camp thing. This is supposedly because our volunteer core does not have a drummer/bassist and vocalists who could credibly cover non-White artist, gospel-tinged songs (despite diversity in our congregation). The transition has killed much of my enjoyment of participating, to be honest, and helped drive the other jazz/funk players to other churches.

    However, this musical fare WORKS, because it's accessible, and the congregation sings praise right along. So I set aside my own preferences, and play to the best of my ability and where I can add something, because I believe there is a God out there who gave me skill and aesthetics, and I need to give back. I think about all the others at my church who give of their time watching the kids, or turning a high-school into a church for 5 hours a week, even if what they do is not glamorous.

    I have found that the most effective way to work with the pocket-less strum-heavy guitar music is to actually do HORN SECTION. My church has a trombonist and a trumpet player. So, I spend time arranging three-horn (trumpet, tenor sax, bone) arrangements for contemporary worship songs, which seldom have horns originally. Essentially I "Chicago-ify" the music, where I can add three-part harmonies, and longer tones to fill out the sound, with an occasional hit or lick here and there.

    So, to answer the OP- that is how I get it done for Him. Honestly, the notes I play from the parts I write are something that a skilled high school player could get done. I seldom get to leverage what skill I might have in improvising. I just leave that for the saturday nites.

    I would just add to this delightfully civilized discussion that I think the real issue is MOTIVATION for being up there on the stage on a Sunday morning. When one is a skilled vocalist or a prominent instrumentalist, there can be a fine line between making it about "ME" versus making it about Him. This is why I eschew much of gospel music, because it seems so over the top "Look at me and how many notes in this melisma I can sing over a single syllable of lyric!"

    Finally, I worship not by going into emotional convulsions, but by concentrating and being ACCURATE and very harmonically "inside" in whatever fills I might do, and by keeping my other horn guys on track and tight. I believe that worship music (or praise music), when done without hiccups, greases the skids toward a sublime spiritual experience and connection to God. Clams or blemishes, or wrong chords, or worst of all getting the beat turned around etc. cause a mental distraction for congregants.

    Hope this helps.

    EDIT: "The Heart of the Artist" by Rory Noland is a great book on the perils of being a worship leader/musician http://www.heartoftheartist.org/
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  14. #94

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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Of course there is a place for sax in christian music. Why, just 3 hours ago I got a call from the local organist, asking if I would like to play in church on halloween (two services). And this will be the third time I play there, and I never heard anything but praise (pun intended). Although, what they say behind ones back you can never be sure of :P

    Jokes aside, there are some christian traditions, as stated earlier, that don't allow instruments of any kind in church, and you might bump into one or two people who thinks of some instruments as "instruments of the devil".
    Guess what I play...

  15. #95

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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Quote Originally Posted by keithsy View Post
    life is too short.
    I second that :/
    Guess what I play...

  16. #96

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    saxguy007,
    i feel the same about the modern "poppy" stuff. so filled up with closed, full voicings of guitar strumming blandness and/or grating over-singing that 27-note syllable. and lack of stimulating solo/fill/riffs (for me anyway). i guess it works for someone, though, or it wouldn't be "pop". but sometimes i think pop is made that way for record sales and possibly introducing new releases - not necessarily because it's better sounding than the previous stuff.

    anyway, i don't play in the band - i just listen/sing in the congregation.

    i've thought about approaching the admin and asking for some kind of music nights for other musicians to play and be heard. keeping it acceptable, of course, for the church. i guess that'd be harder if you didn't have your own building.
    if you could hear what i hear, you'd like it a lot better than what i play.

  17. #97
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    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    All you guys have good points for more examples of the sax in the church go to you tube man those are some playing dudes escpecially Greg Veli I may have misspelled last name but just check it all it will answer all your ?lastly, there are people in congregations that think they are holy than Jesus himself but they too may not make it in the kingdom, hey brothe blow that horn for the one who give you the gift!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #98

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    Before I moved to the DFW area, I lived in Amarillo, TX. I played my saxophone in the praise band and with the youth band. The saxophone definately has a place in modern worship. I love playing my saxophone for the Lord, I am still looking for a church to play at down here. I can't believe some ignorant fool would say that the saxophone is the devil's instrument. That guy would've had a heart attack if he came to my old church and heard me playing lead with the distorted electric guitar and jazzing up songs.

  19. #99

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    What exactly is the problem with some pastors/christians whatever in regard to the sax? I mean, is it some sort of historical or theological objection?

    Thanks

  20. #100

    Default Re: The Saxophone in Christian Music?

    The assistant band director at my high school who was also the jazz band director, got stuck by some lady on a plane that, when he told her he taught jazz band, started telling him all about how jazz music was from the devil and how he needed to turn from his demonic ways and turn his life around and teach music that God would approve of.

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