Saturday, August 15, 2009

Christianity, Culture and the Choir Loft


I listened to your music. This music is along with lines of contemporary Christian music. Contemporary Christian music is great music for Christians but its not what I do musically.
4 tracks of my music can be found in Soundcloud for whoever wants to listen to them:

If you read my other blog you will also find that my music is based on an electronic tradition which comes from the early avant guarde in the 20th century. If you study this music you will find a mix of religeous beliefs from devout Christian to atheist. Those like Olivier Messian were very Catholic, others like Ligeti less so (although Ligeti did write clearly Catholic/Mass based works like Lux Aeterna). But their music, even today, would challenge the musical ear of most people.

While I play guitar, my music is keyboard based. About 5 or 6 years ago I learned to program synthesizers and there has always been a kind of magic in these instruments for me. My music is best labelled experimental, ambient or electro-acoustic. Each of these have slightly different meanings, take your pick. At times, some or all fit my music.
Sound to me is part of God's creation and I take great delight in learning to use it in trying to express different emotions and ideas sometimes by twisting it in new and suprizing ways that I am sure lie far afield of traditional Christian based music.
My music, unlike most contemporary Christian music, is not always intended to be happy or light. John's Gospel tells us that the light shines IN the darkness not outside it. Christianity, if it is to bring the power of the Gospel to our culture, must go to the streets and confront it, the same way Jesus did.

My song, "A Disturbance in the Clouds" is disturbing and dark. I intended it to be. The Christian application is that weapons of Mass distruction are inherently evil. What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a crime against humanity. I am a patriot but I condemn the moral wrongs of the United States or any other country. I condemn these crimes agaist the Japanese as much as I condemn the sins of 9/11 and radical Islam that devalue human life.
Frankly, most music today that is Christian, while great for the choir, is being drown out my the culture. People who listen to it are Christian. No headbanger, for example, is going to go down the street listening to worship music.
I don't write all my music to be Christian neither did Messian. Like Messian however, I am devoutly Catholic. Clearly my faith influences what I write and some of it is faith based but not in your face.

"In Gyorgy's Lament", the music is intended to create a sense of awe as many of Ligeti's works do. Music can bring us directly in touch with the transcendent. An example from early classical is Richard Strauss' "Death and Transfiguration".
My music may shock those who are Christian artists. Good! Christianity remains remote and inert unless, it reflects Christ's ministry which was "in the face" of the prevailing culture.
I spend a lot of time talking to musicans and composers of all types of music beccause we share a common interest, music. Music is a great way to conect to people in many walks of life and perhaps even the opportunity to have faith and art join. I condemn no one but also acknowledge the reality of darknes and sin in the world.

Pope John Paul IInd always believed in direct contact and dialogue with modern culture and so do I. This does not mean I believe in synchonistic methods but I do believe in enculturation. St. Frances Xavier changed the Far East by accepting and respecting many cultures. Being Christian should not cause anyone to leave their brain or their culture at the doorstep. God is always reaching out to us no matter where we are. All cutures, in their own way long for and seek the transcendent God, the bread come down from heaven who opens the gates of heaven for those who trust in him.

It's my hope that my music can lead others to think about what more there is to life. I don't paint between the lines musically or gramatically because one meets modern culture on the streets and in conversation, not in the choir loft or ivory tower. I love the words of Simon and Garfunkle - "The word of the prophets are written on the subway wall and tenement halls". They are right.

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