Christian artist Chris Sligh sings his song “Vessel” on the Crystal Cathedral’s Hour of Power TV show.
by Don Chapman
Back when Chris Sligh was working on his debut album he talked uber-producer Brown Bannister into using me to orchestrate some of the songs (which is a miracle in itself – producers don’t do that sort of thing.) Read about the experience at my blog.
Chris decided fairly late to use a song he had written many years ago in college: the ballad “Vessel.” He wanted it to be simple – just an acoustic guitar and a string quartet.
I hadn’t thought about string quartets since college and Googled the term for a refresher course. Famous composers of the past often wrote string quartets as a sort of exercise of their compositional abilities. Since you only have 4 instruments to work with, as well as limited harmonic color, you had better write some good lines to make a string quartet piece interesting.
Chris played some pads over the track to give me an idea of what he wanted and I started working. I really slaved away on this thing, trying to make each instrument move independently and interestingly, almost like a Bach fugue.
There are several ways to listen to music. The most natural is to simply enjoy it and let it wash over you. Another way is to listen to the arrangement… the keyboards… the drums… the guitars… the strings… and pick out what each part is doing.
Try that with “Vessel” – and notice how the strings weave in and out, creating a unified whole out of independent lines. The above video is of Chris performing the song live on TV, and you can download the MP3 or his entire CD below from the Amazon links.