Music Appreciation Notes

Music Appreciation Notes
I. Intro Story – The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross.
A. Reveals two truths
1. We have a huge amount to learn from secular art.
2. We cannot, should not exclude secular art from our lives.
II. The Doctrine of Common Grace
Definition: “The grace of God by which He gives people innumerable
blessings that are not part of salvation.” (Grudem, P. 657)
“There is a particular grace which works salvation, and also a common
grace, by which God maintaining the life of the world, relaxes the curse
which rests upon it, arrests its process of corruption, and thus allows the
untrammeled development of our life in which to glorify Himself as
Creator.” –Abraham Kuyper
Different from Salvific Grace in it’s…
Results – not the intimacy w/ Christ that believers experience
Recipients – all peoples, not just Christians
Source – not through Christ’s atoning work on the cross
1. Physical.
Matthew 5:44 “…[God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and
the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the
2. Intellectual
Romans 1:20-21 “For since the creation of the world His
invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have
been clearly seen, being understood through what has been
made, so that they are without excuse. Although they knew God
they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.”
3. Societal
4. Religious
5. Creative
Is Adele responsible for her own voice? No, it is God’s grace.
Is John Lennon responsible for the hit songs? No, it’s God’s grace.
Is Carter Beauford (D.M.) responsible for being one of the best
drummers in the entire world? No, its God’s grace.
On the flip side, worship leaders and worship songs are not somehow, pure,
holy and untouchable.
All music written by non-believers is colored by Common grace.
All music written by Christians is tainted by the results of the fall.
(and vice versa)
Because of the transformative work of the gospel and the doctrine of
Common Grace, we are allowed the freedom…
…To abstain from music
…To partake in music
Caution – we cannot take this freedom lightly
1. Do not cause your brother to stumble
a. I Corinthians 8:13 “Therefore, if what I eat causes my
brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will
not cause him to fall.”
2. Be sober-minded and Spirit-led about what is ok for you
a. Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else and
is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
3. Our hearts will turn anything into an idol
So… two questions
1. How can we grow in our appreciation of music?
A. Undo our conditioning (it’s not bad, just restrictive)
1. Parents
2. Media – radio, tv, trends
3. Friends
4. Our own listening habits
B. Recondition
1. Find new music outside of our comfort zones
2. Listen to it – repeatedly
3. Study its merits
a. Pop – melody, simplicity
b. Hip-hop – poetry, story telling
c. Classical – dynamics, structure, history, complexity,
experimentation, different “languages”
d. Country – lyrical wit, hooks, shredders
e. Jazz – improvisation, building on a theme, unique
f. Film – emotional sway, sound fx, thematic material
4. Understand context (historical, cultural, geographical, etc.)
a. Blues – South, New Orleans, African American
b. Classical – what period is it from? (Ancient,
Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern,
today, etc) What country is it from?
1. In the overall process
a. Reconditioning does not happen over night
b. Romans 12:2 – “be transformed by the renewing of
your mind”
2. In the actual listening
a. Learn to enjoy longer pieces and see their detail
(classical, jazz)
b. Listening to music can help in learning to hear the
voice of God. If we cannot learn sit quietly and patiently in
order to take in the full scope of a Mahler symphony (hour+)
or a Miles Davis improvisation, how do we expect ourselves
to hear the still, small voice of God?
D. Learn to appreciate what is excellent.
1. “And in this area (the creative realm) as well as in the
physical and intellectual realm, the blessings of common
grace are sometimes poured out on unbelievers even more
abundantly than on believers. Yet in all cases it is a result of
the grace of God.”
-Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology
2. “After they (Christian Communities) have accommodated,
for the most part what remains for Christian communities to
do is to appear after a non-Christian show and repeat the
performance in their won way for an audience with Christian
scruples. The voice of the Christian communities has become
a mere echo of a voice that is not their own.”
-Miroslav Volf, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should
Serve the Common Good
3. The tragedy of most “Christian” music
a. We should be on the forefront of innovation, but we
play copycat instead (examples?)
b. We have a special relationship with the Composer of
the universe, but we allow ourselves to be confined by
what is around us.
2. What music “should” we be listening to?
Anything that will stretch us.
Anything new or unheard.
Anything with excellent musicianship/craftsmanship.
We are not listening for the sake of copying an ripping off, we are listening
for the sake of learning and growing. There is a significant difference.
Classical – Thomas Ades, Nico Muhly
Jazz – Kneebody
Rock/metal – Tool
Alt/exp (so many) – Sigur Ros (Bjork, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Other Lives,
Lost in the Trees 5 way tie for 2nd)
Hip-hop – Eminem
Pop – Adele
Lyrics – Dustin Kensrue (Thrice)
Electronic – Tycho
Folk – Damien Rice
Film – Trent Reznor
Country – See someone else☺. Not Luke Bryan.
The infinite God that we serve created music! Let us not get stuck in our
minute possibilities.
As a worship team, yes, our main goal is to bring God glory through music
participated in and sung by the congregation, so they do have to
understand it. It should be simple enough to worship to.
And… if we are only listening to bands that are copying trends that are 5 to
10 years old, then we are significantly behind the times and behind the
forefront of innovation. If we do not become accustomed to continual
change and growth, we will be musically stagnant in no time.
I’ve been noticing this trend in movies… death and resurrection of the hero
Lord of the Rings – Frodo
The Dark Knight Rises – Batman
Harry Potter – Harry Potter
Star Wars – Darth Vader
Matrix – Neo
Because all stories point to Christ and ultimately all things will point to Christ
Bands full list
Classical – Stravinsky, David Lang (The Little Match Girl Passion), Eric
Whitacre, Harry Partch, Charles Ives, Sibelius, Jeff Kaiser, Johann
Johansson, John Adams, John Luther Adams, John Cage, Laurie Anderson,
Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Olivier Messiaen, Steve Reich, Thomas Ades,
Jazz – Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, Kneebody, Norah Jones, Pat
Rock/Metal – The Arcade Fire, As Tall As Lions (Self-titled), Brand New (The
Devil and God…), Circa Survive, Dillinger Escape Plan, Dream Theater,
Glassjaw, Isis, Manchester Orchestra, Mastodon, Baroness, Muse (early),
O’brother, Thrice, Tool, Underoath
Alternative/Experimental – Andrew Bird, Bjork, Bon Iver, David Byrne & St.
Vincent (Love This Giant), Fiona Apple, Future of Forestry, Grizzly Bear,
Imogean Heap, Jonsi, Lost in the Trees, Mars Volta, Minus the Bear, Mute
Math, Myriad (With Arrows, With Poise), Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor,
Other Lives, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, St. Vincent, The XX, Tom Waits
Pop/Melody/Country – Adele, Coldplay, Dave Matthews (Big Whiskey),
OneRepublic, The Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban
Lyrics – Conor Oberst, Ben Gibbard, Dustin Kensrue, Eminem, Manchester
Hip Hop – Atmosphere, Eminem, Kanye West, Sage Francis,
Folk – Bright Eyes, Damien Rice, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, Mumford & Sons,
Nickel Creek, Ray LaMontagne
Electronic – Miike Snow, Milosh, Mum, Postal Service, Röyksopp, Tycho,
Caravan Palace
Film – Ashe & Spencer, Danny Elfman, Hanz Zimmer, John Williams, Trent