Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Where Does Music Come From?

by Dan Jones


One of the things I really like about Kinship Christian Radio is the music.

Yes, you’re allowed a “duh” in response to that last sentence both because I have written that before and because pretty much everybody likes music.

Well, we all like good music, but we dislike “bad” music just as much or more than we like “good” music. (To this day, my reaction to “Muskrat Love” by The Captain and Tennille is as violent as if I had been administered a steaming stein of Syrup of Ipecac.)

The thing is, somewhere there is someone who likes that “bad” music just as much as you like your “good” music and is probably quite convinced that it’s your music that’s the bad stuff and not theirs.

So, what constitutes good music is subjective from person to person and even within individual people.  My favorite song last year is not my favorite song this year. (Granted, some music like “Amazing Grace” is timeless.)

Currently, I very much like “Spirit Burn” by Audio Adrenaline.  When the music swells and the beat picks up, and they sing “Glorify your name!” if I’m in my car, I am singing that line as loud as I can.

I even think it would make an excellent theme song for a revival that would sweep across the whole nation.

“Glorify your name!
Let your kingdom rule over our hearts!
Father, show your face!
Let the light of heaven shine from us!”

It has an emotional impact on me, as well as an intellectual, and a spiritual effect.

But where does music come from?

What is inside us that wants, even needs, to sing?

Music is a human universal. Every culture that currently exists on the planet and (as far as we know) every culture that has ever existed has practiced music.

Disclaimer: At one time, there were reports that a culture called “The Ick” (I am seriously NOT making that up.) did not practice music, but that has since been disproven.

So, since every culture on the planet practices music, it’s no surprise that every religion on the planet also involves music.

But that doesn’t answer the question of where it comes from. Why do we do it?

There’s been lots of conjecture by scientists who have desperately tried to force music to fit into the evolutionary mold, but it just doesn’t work.

Mark Changizi has written a book called, “Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man” in which he contends that music evolved to mimic the way we move and impart that information to others.

And, even though Changizi says that in doing so music therefore conveys mood, his explanation and his theory fall flat (pun intentional) because music is much more than simple mimicry of our movements and moods.

There really is no satisfactory answer—not from a purely analytical, scientific standpoint. Music is far richer and more complex than it would need to be to convey the simple concepts Changazi is talking about. And it really would have no clear-cut evolutionary benefit.

At its very core, music is spiritual.

That’s why when Bear Rinehart of NeedtoBreathe sings “God of merrrrrrcy, sweet looooove of mine, I have surrendered to your design” in “Multiplied”, I am with him. I’m ready to surrender to God’s design, too.

“May this offering stretch across the skies—and these hallelujahs be multiplied!”

And when Third Day sings “Soul on Fire” (which I'm pretty sure is the unofficial Allen Jones theme song) I want to be a soul on fire, too.

That’s why when there’s that drumroll as Kari Jobe sings “rolls of thunder” in “Revelation Song” a chill goes up my spine and I am in absolute awe of the God of the universe.

Michael Graziano is a professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University and an admitted atheist who has written an article for the Huffington Post entitled, “Why is Music a Religious Experience?” In it, while talking about Mozart, he comes within half a hair’s breadth of admitting what I’ve been getting to since the beginning of this piece.

In the deep logic of the music, I sense a presence. My brain generates a mind state, a persona, and attributes it to the music. Not the mind of Mozart the man, but a kind of soul that invests that particular piece. The piece has a persona. It has a palpable spirit, and I feel as though I can have a personal relationship to that spirit. The social, interpersonal, emotional machinery of my brain has been recruited.”

Music comes from the soul.

And it makes even an atheist come this close to actually admitting that we have a soul.

We need to sing because we have a soul. Music is our soul crying out and we cry out because God designed us to cry out to Him. We are designed to worship our God and we are designed to worship in spirit and in truth.

And in those songs that connect with our very soul, with our very spirits, true truth can come out and our spirits connect with the Holy Spirit of God.

And that is glorious indeed.

Today’s Praise
Come let us praise Him
Let us kneel at the throne of our God
Through His son our salvation was bought
With mercy and grace
Come let us bow down
In His hands are the depths of the earth
With one voice we proclaim His great worth
Lord our God

And we will seek Him
Our rock of salvation
Morning by morning
With thanksgiving we come
And we will bow down
With creation we cry out
In daylight and darkness
We sing to the Lord

Great is our God
Great is our God
Great is our God

Lord of all nations
We will stand at the end of our days
In Your courts and declare Your great ways
In spirit and truth
We long for Your kingdom
Bring Your thunder and gather the earth
All who tremble will tell of Your worth
Lord our God

And we will seek Him
Our rock of salvation
Morning by morning
With thanksgiving we come
And we will bow down
With creation we cry out
In daylight and darkness
We sing to the Lord

Great is our God

Come let us praise Him
Let us kneel at the throne of our God
Through His son our salvation was bought
With mercy and grace.

“Great is our God” by Plumb





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