Music for Its Own Sake: A Dangerous Philosophy

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Music for its Own Sake

talltabMusic has a powerful effect on the mind and heart.  It can change the entire mood of an environment in seconds.  While there may be different factors that determine what music effects people in what way – such as personal taste and style, music is a powerful influence.  This has always been the case.  And I am not only speaking of New Age or classical music.  I am speaking of all kinds of music – pop, country, classical, rock, hip-hop, alternative, rap, a capella, folk, hymns, chant, Jazz, oldies, choir, not to mention all the world music – Celtic, African, South American, Middle Eastern, Asian, Aboriginal, and so forth.

talltabMusic has power.

talltabBecause of this, I think it is very important that we recognize that music is not an end of itself.

talltabThere is a popular idea which toys with the idea of music for it’s own sake.  Or you might say, music as a contribution to the arts in general.  I can understand that, but I don’t like that idea.  I simply don’t.  I suppose that makes me a bit of an outlaw in the field of the arts, but if music is written for no intent at all, then what is it worth?

talltabWhy do I say this?  Mainly I am concerned that if we put too much emphasis on music for its own sake, we may praise it while overlooking its intended message.  Some call pornography an art.  I used to disagree with that, until I reminded that art is not necessarily good of itself.  Whether or not pornography is an art is irrelevant.  There is good, clean art, which portrays positive messages, and there is evil art, which carries poison that can destroy the soul.

talltabIf masterful music is put to a degrading message, can we really praise the music as being a positive influence on society?  I don’t believe so.  In fact, such music is more poisonous than if the message was put to a discordant, unpleasant sound.  Skill, talent, and power can be used for evil just as they can be used for good.

talltabSome use the beauty and talent of an artistic portrayal to justify it as a worthy influence.  But satan will use as much “light” as necessary to sneak in a dark message.  You may have an entire glass of fresh juice, but one drop of a strong poison will still kill – even if the poison doesn’t effect the flavor of the juice.

talltabBasically, there is music of God, and there is music of satan.  Art and music are not good or bad of themselves.  They are only as good or as bad as their message.

5 thoughts on “Music for Its Own Sake: A Dangerous Philosophy

  1. True. By their fruits…and all that. I have to ask though, from a purely inquisitive standpoint, do you ever find “discordant sound” to be a useful thing? For instance, in portraying a “rise and fall” sort of situation in music. The way I mean it is, if I were to imagine music as being set to a play, what about those moments where a character/actor is tormented or suffers a downfall. Can not a discordant sound portray that “fall”, well? I guess I’m just asking an artist’s perspective on whether or not you believe it can be employed to usefulness. Sort of like bitter vs. sweet. What are your thoughts?

  2. Oh, certainly. Discordant sounds are a necessary part of the art. In fact, I would go so far as to say that without the discordant sounds, the resolving chords would carry very little power.

    Some of the most uplifting music I’ve ever heard carries moments of very intense discord – almost without any tonality, and the effect is marvelous.

    Actually, what I’m thinking of in this article is the intent of the author. What are they trying to convey? Is the music (perhaps beautiful of itself) being put to a message such as a movie or play that glorifies immorality or violence? To me, that can turn the music into a dangerous tool, and will do more evil than good.

    – Chas

  3. That is not to say, either, that violence and such have no place in arts, or that good cannot come of its portrayal. In fact, consider the great works – such as Christ’s parable of the prodigal son. The son lives an immoral, “riotous” life, and then turns his life around. The intent of this portrayal is clearly good, and has very positive results.

    But to glorify the evil itself – to hold the violence or immorality itself up as a thing of beauty, as if the artistry of the act overshadows the moral danger, that’s what bothers me.

    – Chas

  4. Oh, I totally agree with you about intent. I’m all for showing the light and not the darkness (though sometimes it’s necessary to show the dark to appreciate the light.)

    I was facinated to learn about the discordant sound useage. Have any of your songs got this kind of example?

  5. Yeah. In fact, the piece called, From the North, from my new CD uses both a discordant chord progression (the “forbidden” tritone), and a strange timing that doesn’t jive well with most people’s ears. I did that to portray the suffering of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage, as well as the bitterness they suffered from neglecting God after delivering them.

    I’ll be releasing that piece here in the next week or so – just watch for the one called, From the North.

    Also, the piece, The First Day from my first CD starts with a diminished chord, which is very discordant. I used it to portray disorganized/chaotic matter, to be organized into the creation of the earth. You can hear that one in the sidebar under Dayspring Samples.

    – Chas

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