Thursday, 6 September 2012

My (big) problem with music in church

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Rant alert...

There are many problems with music in church and at many levels.

The problem arises because I am a pretty 'musical' person by nature; which is to say discriminating about music: I simply cannot help it. I am never neutral about music - if not positive my response will be negative; if I do not like music I find it uncomfortable, painful, sometimes almost unbearable. At any rate I cannot ignore it, much as I often wish to. 

Problems with church music:

1. The music is bad. This is the norm.

2. The music is arbitrary - such as Gregorian chant and the like. i.e. the tune does not fit the words, indeed there is no discernible tune.

3. The music is 'good', but I don't like it (e.g. many old hymns are just depressing).

4. The music is good but the performance is unsatisfactory (for example, listening to a church organ is not really a very pleasant experience; choirs may be bad in bad ways - I'm not so worried about competence and polish, but there are bad ways of being bad like warbling).

5. The music is good, and well played, but showing-off. Egotistical. Un-Christian - this is common in the expert choirs of cathedrals and the like.

6. The music is good, but does not fit the words - in the sense that the feel of the music and the feel of the words clash - like the 'sacred' music of most great classical composers.

7. The music is good but anachronistic to the words. 16th century language and 19th century music especially...
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So what are we left with?

Not much.

Book of Common Prayer (essentially 16th century) words sung to 16th century English music by a sincere and competent choir without an organ...

Pretentious? Moi? 

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