Tune my heart.
Have you ever tried to tune an instrument? I’m awful at it. I don’t have a great ear. So I have to use a bunch of different methods when tuning my guitar.
One of those is harmonics, where you place your finger at either 1/2 or 1/3 the interval of the string length without pressing it down against a fret. When you pluck the string, it rings out the true pitch of the string. You then use that method to match the pitches of each of the strings and bada-boom bada-bing, you’re guitar is in tune.
That’s what this arrangement is – the process of tuning your heart.
“Tune my heart” only appears once in the hymn and it’s in the very first line. When I started to arrange this around that idea, I realized that the same harmonic notes I use to tune my guitar are in the first line of the hymn, just played in a different order. So while you might think I started the hymn that way because it sounds nice, the real reason is that it represents tuning up and getting ready to play.
Now, have you ever heard two notes that are out of tune? If you’ve ever listened to another one of my arrangements, or a sixth grade violin recital, then you absolutely have.
When two notes are out of tune, there’s dissonance. It sounds like a wave (unintentional pun, since they are quite literally sound waves). The further away from being in tune, the more waves you get. As they approach becoming in tune, the waves start to slow down until finally they stop and the notes become one.
And that’s when a musical phenomenon happens.
When you play a perfectly in tune instrument, you’re actually playing more notes than you think you are. They’re called overtones and every instrument has them. Some more than others. It’s the sound of the wood or brass or strings that have their own unique signature. This is why no two instruments sound exactly alike.
Really nice and expensive instruments are capable of harnessing those overtones because of the way they’re made and the materials that are used. As wood ages, more of those tones come out. That’s why old guitars and violins are so highly sought after. It’s sometimes hard to put your finger on why an instrument sounds so much better than another, but that’s the reason. It’s the tones of the instrument that you can’t necessarily hear, but you can definitely feel. It’s why when you strum a perfectly in-tune guitar, it feels bigger than life.
But all of this only occurs when you are in tune.
When I think of tuning my heart – or being in tune with the spirit – that’s what I think of. It’s all about getting rid of the dissonance and being able to feel and hear things that you otherwise can’t.
In the arrangement, I’m using a polyphonic octave generator guitar pedal. It’s the same pedal I used to get the organ sound in We’ll Bring the World it’s Truth. It takes whatever note I play a multiplies is up and down by two octaves, plus the original note. So while I’m only picking one note, I’m actually playing five. It seemed appropriate to use it on this one to get that bigger than life feeling.
NOTE: This means there are more frequencies being played than your little iphone speaker can let you hear. So put on some headphones or listen to it through some good speakers in order to hear all the notes being played.
I had to use the guitar pedal because ultimately, I’m out of tune. We all are. That’s the point of this hymn. We’re not perfect.
But just like instruments, we need to be constantly tuning ourselves. I’m not that great at it. I wish I was better. But the times that I do, I can feel the spirit more in my life and I realize that I’m not the only note.
Also…….. This arrangement is my little ode to Mack Wilberg. All of my favorite hymn arrangements inevitably have his name on them. Good grief that man knows how to make you have lots and lots of feelings.
Randall HendersonPosted at 12:28h, 03 October
Another amazing job. You’re pretty good (read: unbelievably awesome) at causing those feelings in people too, or in me at least. Thanks much, I really enjoyed that.
ColinPosted at 12:56h, 03 October
Beautiful! Well worth the wait my friend. Perfect way to start Conference weekend. Thanks for sharing!
BeckyPosted at 14:12h, 03 October
Thank you for yet another beautiful arrangement!
TimothyPosted at 16:47h, 03 October
I love what you do soo much! I enjoy listening to your pieces! I one semester of Guitar last year and I was not expecting very much at first but as we got into the year I found myself really enjoying playing and I started practicing as much as I could with what ever cord and notes i knew and it has deffinantly opened up my ears. I seriously enjoy guitar so much it has opened up so much to me and I am trying to one of your pieces “If you could hie to Kolob” I really enjoy that piece so much it is so bueatiful. I love it when it gets into the triplet phrase, it is so very bold and strong just as God and it’s awesome! Anyway I just wanted to say I appreciate what you do and you can know that I always enjoy listening to the music you produced. I can you put your whole heart and mind into this. Thank you! For helping by putting in your effort one hymn at a time
Ben HowingtonPosted at 17:26h, 03 October
Thanks, Timothy! Sounds like you’re getting hooked on the guitar. Stick with it.
BenPosted at 15:33h, 05 October
Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s inspiring.
myronPosted at 23:28h, 05 October
Hey, Brother Ben, I would like to really commend you for what you do. I really enjoy listening to your music so much. I don’t remember how I found about your website, but all I remember was looking for hymns played in guitar and then … the site pop up ! I’m grateful to have found it. I always look up to your new pieces. More power. :)
Blackpearl21Posted at 17:32h, 07 October
Hi Ben, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, is an all time favorite of mine. I can relate to trying to be in tune with the spirit. It’s not always easy to do this and it’s not always easy to do the right thing. We do the best we can if we’re trying to live the gospel. Right? I believe this song conveys that message and is probably the reason why I like it so much. Anyway, your arrangement for this hymn is wonderful. I’m new to your website and I enjoy getting a new perspective on the hymns you present here. I wonder what you would do with the hymns How great thou art or I stand all amazed? Food for thought, maybe? I look forward to your future updates and catching up on past updates. Thank you for sharing your gift of music.
SheriPosted at 06:17h, 09 October
This one gave me goosebumps…like many other arrangements you have done. Thank you for doing what you do.
Jordan AllenPosted at 07:13h, 23 October
One of my favorites…for so many reasons. And your words were just as inspiring as your music. Well done, my friend.
AgustinPosted at 21:57h, 23 November
Hi Ben! I have bee following your music for a while now. I love how you put up tabs for us with the music notes to learn how to play. And I thank you for that. I would really like to know your set up for this video. I really like the sound and I would like to know what you did to make that rich sound! I’m a beginner at this stuff and I would really like to learn. Thank You!