Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Perspective: Creative Greatness

What does it really take to be a great songwriter?  Not just a good one, but a GREAT one.  I don't think the answer is the same for every songwriter.  Each of us has our own unique sounds and lyrical ideas, so it would be impossible for all of us to share the same idea of "greatness".  And let me be clear about the term "greatness".  I'm not looking at this through a "I wanna be gloriously famous and in the lime light for all of eternity" lens.  Greatness is not always seen by the public eye.
For me, being a great songwriter means looking through the eyes of someone else.  It means empathizing with what they might be feeling in their circumstances.  If it's pain, trying to understand it, crafting those emotions in to lyrics.  If it's joy, grabbing on to that, forming it in to a melody.

Much of the time we can become locked in to our own life experiences.  We forget that there is an entire world of creative inspiration right in front of us just waiting to be tapped in to.  So plug in!  Create a story line in your head, maybe even write it out, and then try to transfer it in to a song.  Use your creative muscles to break out of your usual box and try something different.

Here is a song I wrote back in 2009.  While the song sounds as though I'm singing from my own perspective, I actually wrote it with a dear friend in mind.  They were in the midst of a battle with their self image and the truth of who God created them to be.  I walked with them as a support beam, but it was hard to see them experiencing so much pain.  I imagined myself in their shoes, and composed this song.  Fast forward to today and I've found that this song rings truer now in my own heart than when I originally wrote it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Zach Trandum Presents: I'm So In Love With You

Just a couple years ago I composed this little ditty.  Coffee in hand, surrounded by the walls of our cozy little apartment, my 12 year old Mac working it's tail of to do pretty much anything.  This isn't even close to a finished product, but I came across it in my archives fairly recently and fell in love with the song all over again.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Comparison: Break Yourself

I love being a part of ground breaking events.  Being on the cusp of something new has always been exciting to me.
It was years ago, probably around 2004 or 05, that I ventured in to The Republic of Georgia with a small team of worshipers bent on bringing praise in to the atmosphere of the people of Georgia's homes and cities.  We literally had no other mission other than worshiping and loving on people.  We landed early in the morning and were amazed by the small crowd that showed up to greet us as we got off the plane.  The church we were partnered with had shown up in full force to welcome us to their home.  It was amazing!
As we ventured in to the next day, we were sent out in to the city to visit the homes of many of the church members.  This is where I learned a valuable lesson... When visiting a culture that welcomes guests with lots of food, take small bites.  I think I probably gained about ten pounds that day. I pretty much felt like Jabba the Hutt with legs.

Near the end of our trip, after seeing some of the countries most historic and holy sites, including what most historians believe to be the burial ground of Mathias, we were invited to hold an open worship concert at Tbilisi's national museum. This was a great honor since this type of event was pretty much unheard of.

The concert kicked off amazingly well!  We had a packed house!  We did a handful of our favorite songs, and then started in to a small set of jazz standards.  I was an aspiring jazz vocalist fresh out of high school, so this was an awesome opportunity to test my chops.  After a few more tunes we had 2 student musicians ask if they could join us for an improv jam session.  I was excited about this, at first... When the flute player started completely shredding an incredible solo, while playing piano at the same time, I pretty much decided that I would just go crawl in a hole and hide.  These two guys, who just came out of nowhere, were AMAZING musicians.  They hadn't even graduated high school yet! 

Though I was enjoying our time, I began comparing my own abilities to theirs, slowly sinking deeper in to a state of self conscious, depression and ineffectiveness.

Comparing yourself to others can destroy you when you look through the lens of self consciousness.  So don't do it!  I know that's easier said than done, I still battle with this concept and probably always will to some extent.  The difference is that now I recognize it when it happens.  So I'm shining a light on it for YOU!  Recognize it!!!  God did not design you to be like that other guitar player, singer, or drummer on the stage.  he didn't design you to speak or preach like that other pastor at the church that's bigger than yours.  There are skills you can sharpen, sure, but you will never be exactly like another, so begin practicing rest.  Rest in who God's created YOU to be.

I'm not the wisest dude on the planet, so I'm not going to give you a step by step instructional video on how to "be you".  Talk to God, get some wise council if you need it, but just start reprogramming your mind and heart to recognize that YOU were created uniquely by your father.  If you continue to live life by comparing your own gifts to others, you will only succeed in breaking yourself.

Friday, April 17, 2015

You and I: An Original Song by Zach Trandum (Featuring Sarah Trandum)

Tweet: Listen to a new acoustic worship song by Zach Trandum. Presenting 'You & I'. #Worship I have some pretty amazing people in my life.  God has richly blessed me with family and friends that have loved me enough to not only walk with me and rejoice in the good times, but to call me on my crap in the tougher times.  The single greatest, most amazing (and super hot) person in my life is my incredible wife, Sarah.  When I step back and look at the gift God gave me in her I am, quite literally, speechless.  And that's saying a lot because I like words lol.  This girl sharpens me, encourages me, challenges me, recharges me, along with so many other things.  And to top it off, just when I thought things couldn't get any better, she gave me a daughter.  Did I mention she's smoke'n hot? Cuz yeah, she is.  BONUS!!!!
Back in 2009, right when Sarah and I started dating, I was the worship pastor of a small church in Mount Vernon Washington.  Sarah would drive more than 2 hours to come visit me.  On one particular afternoon I was in the church neck deep in a songwriting session.  When she arrived I was getting ready to lay down a scratch track for my records.  Knowing that she's had quite a bit of musical experience and training herself, I asked Sarah to sing with me on the tune.  It took her all of 2 minutes to latch on to the melody, find the harmonies, and remember the lyrics.  I've been doing music for a long time and I still cant pick things up as fast as she does (kinda drives me nuts lol).
Well kids, this is the recording we did that day.  Nothing special at all about the production.  Its just the two of us singing live, worshiping God.  I sincerely hope you enjoy the tune!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Let the Music Thump You

If you could make worship music literally thump in your chest, I'm pretty sure this is what it would sound like.  One of the reasons I've fallen head over heals in love with Dubstep is because it is so insanely creative.  Hank Hill may label it as a bunch of toilet noises... But Dubstep has a musical quality that you just can't get anywhere else and now we're hearing more and more of it breaking in to Christian music. 

Whether you agree or not, these Christian Dubstep sounds are worth a listen. Let your ears drown in the thump. Tweet: Let your ears drown in the thump.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seasons of Songs: It's Not Time Yet

Ecclesiastes 3:1
Tweet: Ecclesiastes 3:1
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..."

I recently came across one of my old lyric books (I've got a pile of them boxed up...It can drive my wife crazy lol).  Not to toot my own horn, but I was rather blown away at some of the lyrics I've written just a few short years ago.  There was incredible insight and metaphorical poetry taking place that I didnt realize I had in me at the time.  Needless to say, I had to jump on those papers immediately and start crafting the words in to songs.  

Like a swordsmith preparing a new blade, I unsheathed my Ipad and went to work on the words, lines, and phrases contained in one of my notebooks.  I would love to tell you that one of the most amazing musical works I've ever created came out of that time but I would be lying.  A big, fat, nothing came out of it. As hard as I tried, as much thought as I put in to it, I just couldn't come up with anything that felt right and I was frustrated as to why I couldn't put the pieces together.  Why wasnt this working?

Well, I've developed a theory (though I'm not usually one to theorize anything at all).  

Just as we go through seasons in life, I believe certain worship songs can be marked for a specific season.  It may remain locked to you until that season starts.  Even as I'm writing this to you I can recall moments in my own life where I've poured back over old lyrics that had frustrated me before and suddenly sprung to life in that moment.

My point in all of this is to encourage you to not become discouraged.  The lyrics you write are important and may not show fruit for a while.  Continue to create!  When the right season comes and the door is opened that song will bust open from the depths of your chest like a wild river.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus

Monday, April 13, 2015

Psalms: Sandra McCracken

Via Relevant
Sandra McCracken is a singer, songwriter and producer from Nashville, TN. Over the course of eight critically acclaimed studio albums, Sandra has developed a body of work that encompasses hook-driven melodic pop, No Depression-style Americana, contemporary recastings of classic hymns, and even children's music as part of the Nashville alt-folk super-group Rain For Roots.