Monday, June 23, 2008

Face the Muzak

Leonard J. Seidel’s book, Face the Music: Contemporary Church Music on Trial, (Springfield, Virginia: Grace Unlimited Publications, 1988) offers some interesting points for discussion. The following points are found on pages 18-19 and 22-23 of this work.

The controversy regarding proper music is not new. In the early Greek civilization, Plato and Aristotle were dealing with the same problems. Plato understood the power that music had in affecting the lives and nation of the Greek people. He wrote in his Republic: “The introduction of a new kind of music must be shunned as imperiling the whole state: since styles of music are never disturbed without affecting the most important political institutions” [Plato, Republic, 424c].

Aristotle also spoke of music’s power: “Music directly represents the passions or states of the soul — gentleness, anger, courage, temperance . . . if one listens to the wrong kind of music he will become the wrong kind of person; but conversely, if he listens to the right kind of music he will tend to become the right kind of person” [Aristotle, Politics, 8, 1430]. . . .

The Muzak Corporation has cashed in on the mind-controlling aspects of music. You can’t miss it in your doctor’s office, the mall, or in an elevator. They know that music is not neutral, for they have declared that “unlike drugs, music affects us psychologically and physiologically without invading the bloodstream. The subtle influence of music has been harnessed in programs providing controlled stimulus progression for people at work and play” [Dr. J. Keenan, Research Notes, Muzak Corp., 1976]. No wonder Muzak can claim that your department store sales will be considerably higher if you are using the right music!

Intelligent composers and arrangers of music believe that your emotions and though patterns can be triggered and manipulated by music alone. The effectiveness of those who write music is directly related to an understanding of music theory. Serious, eternal music is written by those who have done their homework in the area of music theory. If music is neutral, then there is no reason for a music student to study long hours analyzing the works of the masters to see what and how they were communicating through their craft and skills.

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