Friday, March 17, 2006

Thoughts on Music

Music is surely among the most baffling of the arts in its power to move people profoundly whether or not they have any technical expertise or intellectual understanding of it. If a few combinations of pitches, durations, timbres, and dynamic values can unlock the most hidden contents of a man’s spiritual and emotional being, then the study of music should be the key to an understanding of man’s nature. Music is a code in which the deepest secrets of humanity are written...
-Nicholas Cook


I'm quite sure I agree. And while listening to Sufjan Stevens and Over the Rhine this week, I was moved to write something on how frustrated I am with Christians who think that writing some trite, souless phrases about how much they love Jesus, and setting them to a few three-chord progressions is timeless songwriting. It isn't. Good songwriting is just that, good songwriting, and if a Christian thinks they have the gift of songwriting, they should attempt to write good songs, not songs which are explicitly Christian.

I was excited a few months back to find Jeffery Overstreet, a reviewer who thinks on these same lines. His blog is here, and here's a bit of what he had to say while reviewing the top albums of 2004 (ok, I was reading the archives):

"Many of this year's most impressive releases came from Christian artists composing music that the whole world is drawn to. Sure, there are still those fooling themselves, living in fear of what they perceive as "secular," and yet jealously plagiarizing "secular" styles and trying to "save" them with un-poetic, cheesy, elementary, propagandistic lyrics. But the wall is down now, and when compared to other artists easily identifiable in the mainstream arena, they're shown up for the mediocre and misleading "artists" that they are."

3 comments:

gloria jean said...

I was all over the Christian music scene when I was younger. Boy, are you right! Good music is not the cheesy shit that the Christian music labels sell. There is some talent there in some cases for sure but....

Zwerver said...

You are so right on this. It's the same, I think, with Christian books. Or at least it's similar. It seems that anything can get published and stuck in the "christian inspiration" of the local Barnes and Noble, but so much of it is, well, drivel. (Is that spelled right?) There are good christian authors, but they were first and foremost good writers who have a christian theme, rather than christians who just have something to say.

Nathan said...

I think you are right on, zwerver.

And I think you spelled "drivel" correctly :)