I hope you enjoy the promotional video clip below featuring An Unseen World. This is one of my orchestral compositions for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project with award-winning New York Times journalist, and best-selling author Ian Urbina.
The Outlaw Ocean Suite EP has eight tracks (four with journalism audio and music, and four music only). This new release is streaming everywhere including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Pandora. Here is some of the story behind the music…
When God stirred my heart to begin composing instrumental music twenty-one years ago, I wanted to be surrendered, and to listen. This meant moving forward by faith, obeying His voice, asking Him for inspiration, and trusting Him with the results.
Johann Sebastian Bach is my favorite composer. I played a lot of his timeless pieces (composed three hundred years ago) during my twelve years of piano lessons, and high school recitals. Bach’s quote about music may be my favorite too. He said, “All music should be unto the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” I didn’t know what the future held, but I began to see that writing instrumental music would be an adventure.
In February 2020 Ian Urbina emailed me to introduce himself and share he was a big fan of my music. He also invited me to be part of a project he had been working on. Ian’s invitation was for me to compose some pieces for The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, which combines music and journalism. This was very exciting for me, and I was inspired and challenged to use my learning from the Berklee School of Music film scoring program to write orchestral pieces for the project.
Composing what became The Outlaw Ocean Suite EP in August-September 2020 was a fantastic musical and spiritual experience for me. Because music is such a universal language, my heart is for listeners to have their own unique encounter with what I create. And hopefully to be inspired in their life. When I write music there is a sense that the melodies are coming down from heaven. Sometimes this happens quickly, and sometimes very slowly. The process is similar each time, but never the same. The only consistent ingredient is the feeling I have when the music is revealed. Here are some thoughts I had as these tracks came together…
An Unseen World. My commitment to Ian and his team was to write three to five pieces. With three completed, I could have stopped, but there was a nudge to attempt a fourth piece. This became An Unseen World, which is an epic theme song for the whole project. It is filled with drama, tension, rhythm, and haunting beauty. The full orchestra contributes to the musical journey, which expresses these attributes of life on earth. When life brings moments of drama, tension, beauty, and rhythm (finding my stride) into my story, God is faithful. He surrounds me with His love as I trust in Him, and helps me receive His gift of peace (Psalm 32:10, John 14:27, NIV).
Beauty Beneath. As I read Ian’s book I realized The Outlaw Ocean captures “an unseen world” most of us are not familiar with. I wanted to contrast the illegal and harmful things happening on the world’s oceans with music about the innocent beauty of all the sea life under the surface. For me the melodies reflect the beauty of God’s creation, and a more intimate beauty He offers through His grace and love toward us (Psalm 8, Romans 8, MSG).
Sailing Too Close to the Wind. This seafaring phrase means being on the verge of doing something illegal or improper. It applies to literally sailing too close to the wind (in its direction), but can also refer to taking an ill advised risk with a life decision. The music expresses adventure on the high seas, and the pursuit of ocean outlaws. I was not aware of all the injustice and illegal activity happening on The Outlaw Ocean every day, including lives being enslaved at sea, ships breaking international fishing laws, and worse. Spiritually this track represents my faith adventure with God, and the risk of trusting Him when something seems impossible (Luke 1:37, Philippians 4:6-9, MSG). As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Chronicles of Narnia, “Aslan is not a tame lion… He isn’t safe, but He is good.”
Lost on the Seven Seas. This piece is a sad and mournful tribute to lives being abused or killed at sea because of the injustices happening on The Outlaw Ocean. Pain and suffering are part of life, sometimes preventable and sometimes out of my control. These are difficult times when they happen to me personally, those I love, or even a stranger, when circumstances pierce my heart and prompt me to pray. I describe my life and music journey as a God-Story because I cannot imagine life without Him. I have seen Him come through for me, and I have experienced His silence when I longed to know His presence. He always lets me know He is there even when it doesn’t feel like it. The sadness of this composition implies God’s care for the brokenhearted. It also symbolizes hearts who are rejecting God consciously or unconsciously, even though He loves them and is reaching out to them (Psalm 34:18, John 3:16, NIV).
Which track is your favorite or speaks the most to you?