Sunday, 21 February 2010

Music which strains my brain

Martin Luther said"Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given".

I find that a lot of modern, repetitious, fashionable church music strains my brain. I think this is because it offends against the inbuilt laws of music. Scientific research has just identified that modern cultivated music (e.g. Schoenberg, but that is not even modern enough) strains the brain, due to its chaos and the brain's inherent need for "pattern". The human brain (soul) needs to identify pattern and to respond to music with a sense of expectation, something modern classical music completely undermines. Beautiful music creates certain structures and uses structured melody and modulations.

Repetitious, poor quality modern church choruses which have something in common with techniques used by shamans, aims to calm "the agitations of the brain" in the wrong way. It tries to short cut the laws of God in music which rely on pattern, structure, design, order and development. It seeks to mesmerise the "alpha" brainwaves, when in fact music should stimulate them, as in traditional hymns. Music must calm the soul through design, order, development and pattern - and no other way. The Creator put this "form" in music and all worship should reflect this. Holy music needs moving harmonies, a sense of progress and development, answering parts, "sub" sections, like sub plots, cadences which "calm the agitations of the soul" - without oppressing the soul (as alpha brainwave hypnotism does).

Trained church musicians are as precious as pastors. We need fewer guitar-strumming enthusiasts with no sense of this inherent need in music for pattern and structure.

There is no secular or Christian composer who demonstrates a sense of this divine order and pattern better than J S Bach. It is surely no accident that Bach describes "the divine" in pattern and order, for this is what God naturally puts in music to bring out the order in our own souls.

Musical order, we are told in "The Mozart Effect" makes us brighter (creates new brain connections) and even calms animals too. Bring it on. We are in a musical cul de sac in classical and church music. Enough is enough.

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