Mark Hansen Music - LDS Rock Music - Free Downloads

Mark Hansen Music - LDS Rock Music - Free Downloads
Get the new CD, "The Third Time" HERE

WARNING: Listening to this music doesn't require parental approval. It's a bit of clean rebellion. It keeps your outlook up and your hope alive. It's got strong drums and screaming guitars. It pumps you up and drives your life. It's a hunger for exploration. It chooses the right and returns with honor. It's music you don't have to confess to your bishop.

It's not your parents' "Saturday’s Warrior".

It's "A Joyful Noise"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Spin

Download or Play the song for FREE!

This is a fun one.  I wrote it a long time ago, like, several years.  Actually, I think I initially wrote it when I was working on "One United Generation".  At the time I thought it was too derivative of another song, so I didn't do anything with it.  Over the years, I realized that it drew influence from a lot of other songs, so much so that it seemed to have just about every classic rock cliche in it somewhere.

At any rate, it just kept nagging at me, in the back of my head, until I finally decided to bring it out of mothball, rewrite it a little bit, and do some tricks in the arrangement.  In the end, you can still hear a lot of the influences, but, in my ears, at least, it's still fresh.

The lyrics are all about my cynicism regarding politics.  So often I see people get polarized by the partisan rhetoric that flies around, and they don't see that this year's party platform is built on planks stolen from last year's platform of the other party!  It all just seems to me to be so much bickering.  In the end, each party tries to spin their temporarily-held "beliefs" in an attempt to win our votes. 

I get pretty frustrated by it all, but I still vote.  I still play the game.

Anyway, here's the song!

Another thing!  This one features scatting vocals from my good friend Sam Payne.  He's one of my songwriting heroes!

The Spin
By Mark Hansen

Download or Play the song for FREE!

Spin it for the left Spin it for the right
Spinning up the peace Spinning up the fight
Spin it in the speeches Spin it for the vote
Spin it for the winner Spin it for the goat

Spinning all around the world
like a whirling rush of leaves
first they talk like liberals
And next, conservatives

The world is spining round and round
I falling tumbling to the ground
The world is spining to and fro
I’m so dizzy don't know where to go
The world is caught up in the Spin

Spin it to the poor man Who can’t get around
Spin it to the rich man With no money down
Spin it to the atheists Spin it to the church
Spin it to the hedonists Caught up in the urge

I just don’t know who’s in charge
Or who I’m voting for
One day my agenda’s clear
And the next, don't know what’s in store


Spin it to the bosses Spin it to labor
Spin it to me or Spin it at my neighbor
Spin it to the criminal  Spin it to the law
Spin it to the victims Spin it to us all

One day an idea dies
The next it resurrects
I’ll just hold to what I know
And be politically incorrect


Produced and Performed by Mark Hansen, Except:
Drums: Steve Hill
Lead Guitar: Bill Williams
Scat Vocals: Sam Payne


Come back often to hear about new songs and shows. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including his Dutch Oven blog: Mark's Black Pot and his LDS pop culture blog: MoBoy blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Dutch Oven Tamales! 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ronnie James Dio 1942-2010

Ronnie James Dio died today, at 67, of stomach cancer.  Facebook is all abuzz with the news.  There are many, many expressions of sympathy at his official fan page.  There are obituaries and reviews all over the net, too.

I admit that I was never a big, big fan of Dio.  Most of his songs were too dark for my tastes.  Even still, there were a few songs that I really, really liked.  Whenever "Rainbow in the Dark" or "Last in Line" were to come on the radio, for example, I cranked it.  The opening chords of "Rainbow", with the keyboard arpeggios just rocked so hard.  I loved it.

I always had a hard time figuring out his lyrics, too.  They always seemed to be just vague, rambling expressions of angst and "misplacement".  Maybe that's why they resonated with their audience so well.

His sound did influence me a time or two, most notably in "Dance With the Devil".  In a lot of ways, I was thinking about those sorts of "dark" rock musicians, and the darker parts of me when I wrote that one.

One thing that I've always admired of about Dio, is that he never gave up.  He started small, he got pretty big in the 80's, and then his popularity faded as the 90's came.  Still, he never went away.  He kept reworking his act and presenting it back to the public.  In spite of the fact that he never recaptured his former glory, he just kept on going.  That kind of tenacity and persistence I admire.

So, today, I will crank out "Last in Line", and then "Dance with the Devil" in tribute.


Come back often to hear about new songs and shows. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including his Dutch Oven blog: Mark's Black Pot and his LDS pop culture blog: MoBoy blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post, name post,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making LDS Music - Recording Vocals

My friend, Kirk, made a topic request.  Just like a musician likes it when someone in the audience requests a song, a writer likes it when someone requests a topic.  He asked about recording and mixing vocals.  Here are some thoughts:

First of all, when recording vocals, it's important to remember one thing that's really true of all recording:  It's much easier to do a great recording of something great. 

Let me clarify: I'm not a great singer.  I am a better singer than I used to be, but I'm not great.  All the tricks in the studio can help me sound like an even better singer than I am, but they won't make me sound great.  They can compensate for this or that weakness in my voice, but they won't make me sound great.  To truly sound great in the studio, you have to BE a great singer.

And, trust me, in the LDS music world, there are some GREAT singers!

Now, having said that, keep in mind that there are a lot of very famous, very rich vocalists, who are NOT great singers.  They are rich and famous for other things, like being great songwriters or entertainers.  Bruce Springsteen comes to mind when I think of these artists, as does Bob Dylan.

Still, there are a lot of things you can do in the studio that will enhance the final result.

First of all, get a decent mic.  A large diaphragm condenser mic will capture the high-end "air" of a vocal much better than a hand-held dynamic mic with a foam ball on the end of it.  Those are used on stage because they are very durable and can stand up to a beating, not because they're the best sounding vocal mics.  The fact that they are LESS sensitive (especially in the high frequency ranges) actually makes them BETTER suited for the stage, where feedback is a bigger problem. 

So, if you can, get a decent mic.  They're not very expensive these days.

Second, get a mesh "pop" screen, because you're going to be singing into this mic "up close and personal", with your nose two to three inches away from the mic.  If you don't, every time you sing a "P" or a "B" (called "plosives"), you'll sound like a beat-boxer.  If you can't get a pop screen, make one by stretching some panty hose material over a coat-hanger wire.

Second, adjust your input gain to a decent level, so you're getting a good strong signal.  Watch that, because you warm up, and start getting into the song, you will often start singing stronger and a bit louder.

Third, set up your compression.  Few singers, even the best, can keep their sound levels even.  It's not in the nature of speaking or singing.  Set up your compression lightly, not heavy.  Set it so that you're only gently shaving off the top of the peaks, reducing the overall gain at the loudest parts by a few dB.  Too much compression will change the sound, and you'll be able to hear it.

Fourth, sometimes I'll add a little high-end tweak in the EQ as I'm recording.  Don't mess with the recording, in-bound, EQ too much, because once you've recorded it, it's set.  It's much easier to make changes like that in the mix.

Finally, make sure that you can hear a good blend of your backing tracks and your voice in your headphones.  For me, hearing my voice strong, with just a little reverb for sweetening will make me more confident in my voice and I'll sing stronger and better.  Remember not to RECORD the reverb, though, just have it in the headphones.  You'll want to adjust and lock in the reverb and other effects in the mix.

Now, you're ready to sing.

Before all else (because this is an article on making LDS music), I try to remember to say a prayer before I sing.  Remember: 2 Ne. 32: 9

Sing the song all the way through a couple of times.  You can do this just monitoring, or you can actually record.  You'll probably not keep these tracks anyway.  They're just for warmups.  I usually record them, because, hey, you never know...  You might get something great before your voice gets tired.  It doesn't usually happen.

At this point there are a couple of ways you can go through the song and get the best possible performance.  They each have advantages and disadvantages.

One approach is to sing the song line by line, using "punch-in" and "punch-out" recording to fix one line at a time, until you get it right.  You sing it, listen to it, and then redo it if you need to.  The advantage to this method is getting immediate feedback on how it sounds.  If it needs fixing, you do it immediately.  The main disadvantage is that it can be tough to maintain emotional energy over and over again, one line at a time.  This method is easier when you have a vocal producer coaching you through the song, telling you when you need to go back and redo a line.

Another approach to this method is that you can fatten up your sound by "doubling" the track.  You set up two tracks and you sing the same line twice.  Almost all pop stars do this these days.  The trick is to match exactly what you sang before, in both pitch and timing.  This is easier to do if you're singing the song line by line.

The approach I use is a little easier when you're recording alone, which I do most of the time.  Before recording, I set up ten or so empty tracks, and set up the compression and reverb, etc...  Then, I sing the song through, recording, ten times.  One right after the other.  The final step is "comping" or making a composite track from all of the raw tracks.  I listen to each line, one track at a time, and pick the best take.  Then, I assemble a completed track from all of the best puzzle pieces. 

The main disadvantage of this method is that I usually do the comping on a different day, so if all of the tracks on a particular line aren't great, it's tough to go back and fix that one.  A big advantage is that I can try out different stylistic things, and pick the one that worked the best.

Once the lead vocals and all of the other tracks are done, it's time to mix.

I actually start mixing with the lead vocals.  That's the focal point that all other things relate to.  You can read more about that approach to mixing here.

There are several in-mix tricks you can use to improve your sound and performance.  One is a mimic of the "doubling" I mentioned before.  Simply duplicate the track, and delay the copy by a few milliseconds.  Then, adjust the volume of the secondary track so that it's not as noticeable, and merely an enhancement of the primary track.

Auto-tune is a big deal these days.  It's a processor that analyzes the pitch you sing and adjusts it to the closest correct note.  In theory, it's a way to fix little pitch errors in a vocal track.  I, personally, have problems using it, because sometimes it will correct my pitch to the wrong note.  That's right, sometimes I don't even sing well enough to use autotune.  I must hang my head in shame.

EQ (Equalization) is another issue.  As you're listening to the vocal track, you'll want it to sound as natural as possible. Sometimes, to do that, I have to add a little high end.  If it's a backing vocal track, I'll want it to sound a little more thin and distant, so I'll take out a bit at 500 hz or lower. 

There are many many more things that could be said about the vocals in recording and mixing.  The bottom line is: The better it sounds before it even gets to the mic, the better it will be when it's all done.


Come back often to hear about new songs and shows. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including his Dutch Oven blog: Mark's Black Pot and his LDS pop culture blog: MoBoy blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where Do the Ideas for LDS Music Come From?

Getting ideas can, at times, be the most difficult part of songwriting.  It shouldn't be, because songs and ideas are all around us.  As an LDS Musician, it should be easy to find them.  Like a picture is worth a thousand words, a day that you've lived is where you can find a thousand songs.

Here are some suggestions for the best sources for good songs, not in any particular order:

  • God himself

There are times when a song just comes to me.  Often this happens as I've been mulling over a concept or an idea.  Sometimes that idea is musical, other times it's lyrical.  Then, suddenly, a song is there in my head.  When this happens, I attribute it to God.  The best way to make LDS music, is to rely on God, Himself.

Be careful, though.  In my life, God inspires lots of creativity, but he still expects me to work it out.  Just because he dropped something in my lap doesn't mean he wants me to just have it.  I still tweak it and rewrite it, and often that process is just as inspired as the initial idea.

  • Reading scriptures

I've written lots of songs inspired by the scriptures.  "Martyrs" is a great example, referring not only to the Book of Mormon, but Latter-Day history as well.  Surprisingly, my rapped verse in "Shine the Light" is littered with scriptural references.  Just jump in and read your scriptures and you'll find lots of things to write about.  And not just me, but there are many LDS Musicians that draw from the scriptures.  I love Sam Payne's "Brother's Road", for example.

  • Living life

Don't just sit in your house and expect songs to come to you.  You're out there, you're living your life.  You're going to work, meeting people, going to church, doing your things...  All of these activities can be sources of ideas for songs.  Who are the people you interact with?  What are their stories?  Adapt those into songs.  "Two Houses" is an example of a song I wrote because of an interaction with some friends.  "The First Step" was written for the baptism of a friend of mine's daughter.

  • Reading the news

The primary song says, "Now we have a world where people are confused/If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news..."  My advice is the same, go and watch the news, and you'll see lots of ideas. And don't just watch the news, but be aware of the world around you. 

  • Interacting with other arts

Other arts can give you ideas as well.  Other songs, plays, books, paintings, etc... 

  • People watching

Sometimes, when I'm bored and waiting in places that are public, I'll people-watch.  I'll see what people are doing, and then I'll invent stories about them.  I'll imagine who they're waiting for at the airport, or what they're shopping for at the mall.  These stories give me ideas for songs.

"Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs..."  What's wrong with that?  Nothing, I guess, except that there's so much more out there to write about.  If you can talk about it, you can sing about it.  I once told a student to walk out her back door and tell me the first thing she saw.  It was her swimming pool.  "How am I going to write a song about my swimming pool?"  She was confused.

Well, we talked about ideas.  What if she threw a pool party and nobody came?  A song about lonliness.  A song about having things (the pool) but nobody to share it with.  What if it rains while she's swimming?  A song about enjoying herself in difficult times (it might be raining, but I'm already wet!).  There are a million possibilities.

What will your next song be about?


Come back often to hear about new songs and shows. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including his Dutch Oven blog: Mark's Black Pot and his LDS pop culture blog: MoBoy blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Dutch Oven Split Pea Soup

Monday, May 10, 2010

The First Step, and The Next Step

A long time ago, when Jodi and I were first married, we had some friends, another couple.  I'd met both Jodi and Cathy at about the same time in my life.  I married Jodi and Cathy married Dave.  Throughout our marriages, we've always remained good friends, but sometimes we were closer than others, mostly for practical reasons.  When we moved out to Eagle Mountain, for example, we kinda lost contact for a while.

When their daughter was eight, and getting ready to be baptized, they asked me to sing a song at her baptism.  I thought at the time, "I'll do them one better - I'll write a new song for the baptism".  So, I got to thinking about what I would want to say to an 8 year old that's taking that "first step" in the gospel.  That's where I got the idea and the title.

It took me a long, long time to actually get the song recorded however.  By the time it was done, she was a teenager, in the Young Women's program.

Well, this last week, I got to go to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and see her be sealed in marriage.  I had a hard time believing she was 20 already.

So, I thought a lot about the song.  I don't know if it had much impact on her life.  I do know that she must've made a lot of good choices along the way, or she wouldn't have been kneeling across the altar from her sweetheart, pledging her life (temporal and eternal) to be with him.  It was cool to think that I might've played a small part in that.

Here's a link where you can listen to the song.

The First Step


Come back often to hear about new songs and shows. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including his Dutch Oven blog: Mark's Black Pot and his LDS pop culture blog: MoBoy blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post, name post,

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