iBand Hits 1,000,000 Views

So you’ve no doubt seen the North Point iBand video.

And so have One Million other people!


(OK, we know that’s not true.  I mean, I count for about 50 of those hits, just in checking the counter.  And you’ve seen it a few times as well, gathering friends and family around the computer. And my mom probably counts for 65,000 views…)


But, the absolute coolest thing about the buzz this video and performance has to be the fact that people have been able to share it with people they care about that might not go to church, or have a pre-concieved distaste for church – people that have been hurt in the past by Christians, or think that church is an outdated, stuffy place full of judgmental hypocrites. (Unfortunately, in many cases that’s correct.)

Around here, the verbage is “Invest and Invite” – a chance to be a positive influence in the life of a non-Christian, and when the time’s right, invite them to a church that is engaging, informative and helpful. And that maybe they’ll take a baby step towards placing their faith in a God that loves them, and has abundant grace for whatever their situation in life is.


I was interviewed by  The Toronto Star earlier this week. Sure, we talked about all the story behind the iBand, but the one thing that stopped her short was when she asked “why” we did it in the first place. I told her,

“We love to do stuff at the beginning of a service that engages people. Maybe it’s a familiar song that makes them smile, or a humorous bit that makes them laugh.  It’s all in attempt to soften people’s hearts to better receive the  message they’ll hear later in the service.”


That’s a filter we program our services through.  Just like any good communicator starts a talk with an engaging of funny anecdote to get the audience on board, the same goes for a 65 minutes church service.  It’s not overly religious or moody, convicting or sappy – just 5 minutes of something to brighten your day.  And, with any luck, the rest of the service is so impacting and their faith journey is one step closer to God, that they’ve actually forgotten the Opener when they leave.

So for critics that condemned us for doing something in church that wasn’t “Godly” or “Christian”, or that we should be busier saving souls than practicing on iPads – they obviously weren’t in attendance for the other 60 minutes of that – or any – North Point service.

But, again, you knew that 🙂


PS – I’ll work on getting those Bebot settings from Jared…



North Point iBand Apps

Well, we did the “North Point iBand” for an Opener on Sunday, December 5th, 2010.

If you haven’t seen it…. CLICK HERE



First off, big props to Jared Hamilton for spearheading the effort from our end.

Jared arranged “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Feliz Navidad” using the apps, and creating a demo by multitracking them in Apple’s Logic software (though any Digital Audio Workstation would do the trick).

Jared, Eddie Kirkland and I arranged the first song, “Carol of the Bells“. It’s amazing what you come up with when you sit in a room, hook 3 iPhones up to some speakers, and get adventurous!

Well, many of you have asked, so here are the Apps used:

(NOTE: You’re going to have to looking for them on iTunes yourself. C’mon, you’ve gotta do SOME legwork yourself!)

Carol of the Bells:

Eddie Kirkland, SoundGrid

Reid Greven, NLogFree

Jared Hamilton, Melody Bell

Danny Grady, Guitarist (Nylon String)

Antwane McMullin, drums – iGog (MoreVox Acoustic 1 sound)

Rick Meeder, bass – Bassist

Steve Marcia, Guitarist (Electric)

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Antwane McMullin, drums – iGog

Rick Meeder, bass – Bassist

Danny Grady, electric guitar on intro & fills – Guitarist

Steve Marcia, acoustic guitar on main melody – Guitarist

Jared Hamilton, B3 – Pocket Organ

Reid Greven, sax solo – Saxophone Musicofx

Eddie Kirkland, Percussions (Tambourine)

Feliz Navidad

Joe Lee, guiro – Percussions

Antwane McMullin, drums – iGog (Rock Kit 1 sound)

Rick Meeder, bass – Bassist

Danny Grady, nylon string guitar – Guitarist

Ben Snider, clave – Percussions

Steve Marcia, maracas & tambourine – Percussions

Jared Hamilton, melody solo & percussion fills – Bebot, Percussions

Eddie Kirkland, congas & bongos – Percussions

Reid Greven, piano – Pianist

Seth Condrey, vocals – T-Pain


An Encouragement and Challenge for Musicians

This idea hit me yesterday, so I wrote it down and shared this last night with our musicians at rehearsal. I hope it comes as an encouragement to you as to where you have come from, and a challenge as to where you will go…


Years ago, probably in your childhood or school years, you discovered a fondness and liking for music.

Perhaps you had a parent that, although not very musical themselves, loved to listen to music because of what it did for their attitude, and thus yours.

Maybe your parent was musical, and so you saw it take tactile shape in their lives.

You probably also discovered that while others endured your required music class in Elementary School, you actually looked forward to it. There was something about it that came easy to you, and that you excelled in – thus your desire and interest in it grew.

Years past, and at some key point in your life, you made a bold, conscious move to immerse yourself in your musical interests, and to develop your natural mustard-seed talents into actual abilities. Some of you did it voluntarily, sometimes even against the desires of your parents. Others did it with the constant prodding, and even hounding from a parent that saw more in us than we saw in ourselves at the time.

More years past, and behind you now are a lifetime of experiences – some great successes and some miserable failures. Some of them are direct results of your own single and series of decisions, and so you are the only one to praise, or to fault. Others have been placed in your path as a test or a trial – to challenge your heart and allow you to either grow or be broken. Either way, you will learn something. All these experiences have paved the way to get you to where you are today. You may see that favorably in some of your life’s situations, and with frustration for other circumstances.

One of the places that your path has lead you is to here. Right here. Right now. With these people, in this building, performing a specific task in a specific role.

The question is: Does that satisfy you?

Hopefully it does, and yet does not.

Hopefully it does, in that you are able to look back at your journey with great understanding, and know that God has you in this place in your life for some very specific reasons. You are here to give back what has been given to you. And the more that has been given to you, whether someone else’s time or talents from God, the more you are now being called to give back to Him.

And be entirely satisfied to know that decades of hard work, grueling experiences, sweat and tears are now paying dividends for the glory of God. Know that both He and your peers are proud of you for putting in the time and effort to be great at what you do, and that you are doing great things when you use the talents He placed in you from your inception.

And, at the same time, hopefully your satisfaction does not turn into arrogance, pride, assumption or apathy. Hopefully you see that there is always room for improvement from your end. Your skills are an evolving and growing entity, and to allowing them to stagnate is a disservice to your Creator.

Are you in doubt? All you need to do is look in your own rear-view mirror! Look at how your skills, along with your personal and spiritual maturity were matched with the situations you were in. Look at each phase of your life, and know that there will be a point, far in the future, that this current time and situation will be just another step in your journey.

The next question is: What decisions, steps and actions will you take today so that years from now, you are able to look back at this time with favorable eyes?

Proverbs 22:29


29 Do you see a man skilled in his work?

   He will serve before kings;

   he will not serve before obscure men.

The Message:

29 Observe people who are good at their work—

   skilled workers are always in demand and admired;

   they don’t take a backseat to anyone.

Ableton Live – Worship, Subdividing the Click

Alrighty Kids, here’s some info about our journey switching from Pro Tools to Ableton Live for running click, loops and tracks for live performance, specifically in our worship services.

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Up until a few weeks ago, we used Pro Tools as our on-stage software to create and run loops, sequenced programming and a click track. I do most of my music creation via Pro Tools – whether a simple loop for a worship song, or a full, complex video score. So using Pro Tools to play some or all of those audio elements in conjunction with a live band was totally natural. ESPECIALLY since you can create a click track using the “Click” plug-in and route it to a specific audio output, apart from, say, a stereo loop track.

Pro Tools also allows “Markers”, which we would use as the start of the next song. You can tab to them, or select them with the mouse in a special Markers Window. There is also the powerful ability to input tempo changes, time signature changes, and click subdivision changes at those markers, or anywhere in a song’s timeline.

If you’d like more info on running loops via Pro Tools in a live performance situation, check out: Gear Questions: Pro Tools running loops

So Pro Tools is very powerful in many cases – but not all…

While I see myself using PT as a main Digital Audio Workstation for song creation, video scoring, and audio recording, it still falls short in many areas that we need, specifically our live performance / worship services.

Enter Ableton LIVE…

While I was not unfamiliar with Live and its concepts from years past, there were still some things that fell short for me. But many of those have been addressed/changed/tweaked and generally improved over the last few versions.

However, the biggest dislike I had – and still have – of Live is its internal click.

I mean, it’s horrible.

First, the click tone is obnoxious, and cannot be changed without highjacking the root library in your computer’s Operating System (NOT advisable for the faint of heart). And second, you cannot subdivide the click PROPERLY.

Sure, other sites or videos show someone manipulating the song’s tempo and/or time signature, but that’s not the way it should be. I SHOULD be able to enter the proper tempo and time signature of a song, and have the ability to choose a click tone and subdivide it.

Why do I want to subdivide a click? Because if you’re playing a song at anything less than about 110 bpm, your ability as a singer or instrumentalist to “lock into the groove” of a song is GREATLY increased when you can hear/feel the subdivisions of a measure (1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &).

So for me, even now, Ableton Live is a great program, we WANT to use it for all that it can bring to a live performance (MIDI mapping to external pads/triggers, easy song tempo change without messing up other songs later down a “timeline”, etc.), but it still has this one giant FLAW – the click.

It’s kind of like dating the best person in the world – but they smoke.


So this was my Everest. I wouldn’t switch to Ableton until we could figure a way around this click issue.

Well, after lots of research and brainstorming – and a few trials, errors, and less-than-satisfactory solutions, Jared Hamilton and I came up with a winner.

Or at least the winner until something better comes along or Ableton gets their act together…


If you’ve used Redrum in Reason or Boom in Pro Tools 8, or any pattern-based drum machine, you’re already ahead of the game….

Basically, we created an instance of Impulse, Live’s drum pattern sequencer, imported a desired click tone, and created MIDI notes in the sequencer to trigger the sample as desired (quarters for fast songs, quarters and 8ths for slower songs). We even increased the velocity (thus volume) of the downbeats to help define where the “1” is…

Then we saved the instance of Impulse (with the desired sample and MIDI data) as a clip to the clip library. That way, in the future you can just drag that Click clip into an audio column in about 2 seconds – never having to create a click clip from scratch again!

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OK, here’s are the steps…

#1 – TURN OFF the horrible internal click of death.

From this:

Picture 7.png

To This:

Picture 6.png

Ahhh, much better…

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STEP #2 – Create an instance of IMPULSE:

Impulse can easily be found by clicking on the Live Device Browser (yellow icon on LEFT underneath the arrow). Click on Impulse and drag it into a MIDI track or “Clip/Device Drop Area” (big grey area that says “Drop Files and Devices Here”.

So that’s totally easy. 🙂

Picture 8.png

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For us, we love using the MPC click tone from the Pro Tools click plug-in. We’ve used it for years now, and all our players are fans. It’s distinct enough to establish tempo, but subtle enough to not drive you crazy or interfere with the sound you’re trying to create as a band.

But that’s just us – you can use a cowbell, woodblock, or car horn for all I care 🙂

So now drag that sample (audio file) into the first “audio sample slot” in Impulse. Below, you can see my MPC Click sample in the far left sqare. It’s greyed-out to show that an audio file has now been assigned to that slot.

NOTE: You may wish to change the DECAY or other parameters to suit your taste.

Picture 3.png

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STEP #4 – ENTER MIDI DATA in Impulse’s Sequencer Window

Just double click on the grid where you want the click sample to activate.

Here’s an example of a sub-divided click (1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &):

Picture 2.png

And here’s a simple quarter-note pattern:

Picture 1.png

Note the VELOCITY increase for the downbeat of the bar (lower half of the window). You can play around with this until you get what tones / volumes you desire for the downbeats.

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STEP #5 – RENAME and SAVE CLIP(S) for future use

OK, now the hard part’s done. And by saving this clip, you can then easily drag and drop desired Click Clips into a session as you desire.

Picture 9.png

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If you’re already using Ableton for a multi-song set, you’re probably familiar with how tempos are set for the different songs using the Master Scenes.

Using the Rename feature (click on a box and type z-R), you can then type the name of the song, its TEMPO (be sure to add “bpm” after the tempo), and its time signature. (Press RETURN when you’re done!)

Now, when you click on that Master Scene box in the future, the click (and any other audio files/loops/programming, etc.) that you’ve imported along that horizontal scene will start at the exact tempo you’ve typed in.

Here’s an example of a recent Ableton Live set used for a live worship service performance.

Picture 10.png

All of those scenes had Click clips, while only some of those scenes also had count-offs, loops, and programmed tracks as needed.

Picture 11.png

While you can manually activate the scenes by clicking them, you can also map them to either keys on your computer or – more effectively – by MIDI-mapping them to an external controller. Products like M-Audio’s Trigger Finger and Novation Launchpad are widely used, while we currently use the Akai Professional LPD8 due to its smaller footprint.

But that’s a different story…

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There you go, kids! Have fun – and here’s a special treat: A download of the Click Clips and MPC Audio sample!


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