Volume. XIX, No. 44
Sunday, 15 May 2005

From the pastors heart: music components 1

On our anniversary day, there was a bit of confusion over the article that I wrote. In that article, I listed a few song titles from a well known CCM company. It just happened that one of the songs was played by our instrumental group, and the group members were a bit frustrated over this coincidence. They were not sure whether it was a right thing for them to have played the song or not. I have received a few questions from the people who participated in the play. It reminded me that I needed to touch on something about the difference between good and bad music in the simplest way. It does not mean that it is an easy task to clarify all issues of music. My smart Hopefuls will not be satisfied with unclear answers, and I know that I am not the most suitable person to talk about music issues. However, a huge task is laid before me, and I need to give answers to the Hopefuls as clear as possible.

In a word, the issue is whether or not it was wrong to play that particular song on our anniversary. Personally, I’ll assure you that I have enjoyed the music on that day. Why is it so? Instead of answering this question directly, let me go around a bit to answer this question. Let me suppose that we are singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” This hymn is solemn and very serious in its nature because it praises God for His holy attribute. But, if I sing and play it with a go-go rhythm, though it is the same song, it becomes a completely different music. Thus, how we sing and play instruments affect on our music immensely. Once we are used to secular music style and to change our voices to fit in such music, we will not be able to return to the same style of music we used to sing before God. The anniversary day music was very suitable because of the way that it was played. I want to thank them personally for taking their time so much for preparations.

Music Style is important. For example, there are differences between march and dance music. A march has the beat on one and three: ONE, two, THREE, four. Dance music is one, TWO, three, FOUR. March music is for soldiers and dance music is for entertainers. Can we imagine soldiers to march on dance music? What kind of army shall we build up for the country? Or, what sort of dancers will be able to dance with march music? Though we sing and play the same music, the way we play music influences on our mind. Listen to the following statement: “Our ears are very sensitive organs. Because of this, very accurate control of the stimulus variables is required in psychoacoustical experiments. Sound pressure level differences of less than 1 dB, time differences of a few msecs, and frequency differences of less than 1 Hz can have a profound effect on the subjective response to a stimulus” (Diana Deutsch, ed., The Psychology of Music, Academic Press, 1982, 2). This statement implies two things. One is that music affects our mind. Even 1 dB, or 1 Hz change can affect our mind and emotions. Second, it is important to get used to good and sound music.

If we are serious enough to want to know about music, we need to know about melody, rhythm, and harmony. As a stranger to music, it is not easy for me to explain to you about these components of music. Let me try and get your feedback. First, I want to talk about melody. It is worth noting that the ancient Greeks thought that melody affected our mind and could produce certain effects. Therefore, it is not my theory alone that music produces certain psychological and behavioral changes. I am not sure whether you have heard that there are some companies that have produced some sort of “ready-made” music to certain businesses such as supermarkets or factories. These companies run various tests numerous times in order to find certain psychological impacts of music on listeners. Can you imagine that fast food restaurants use soothing and slow music, and supermarkets use fast moving and marching types of music? Of course not. Supermarkets want to let people linger around and buy more, and fast food restaurants want to let people move quickly. Thus, they use appropriate music to boost their businesses.

Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary [VTMMD] defines melody as “A tune; a succession of tones comprised of mode, rhythm, and pitches so arranged as to achieve musical shape, being perceived as a unity by the mind. In a piece of music where there is more than one voice, or where harmony is present, the melody is the dominant tune of the composition” (http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/). Simply, melody is a tune. Tune is “a succession of sounds that has definite character and shape and is pleasing to the ear.” If we want to know more about tune, then we can think of tuning of our musical instruments. It is a process of adjusting the pitch of an instrument to correct intonation. Form these explanations, we can find that pitch is the central piece of melody. Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of a sound (or tones). Therefore, melody is the basic or even essence of music. Melody is a succession of pitches. Music without melody cannot be good music in my mind. For example, if I am humming a hymn, “Just As I Am,” it can be my prayer to or commune with God, even without rhythm or harmony. The melody itself is a praise to God. Therefore, good music must have good melody. Rap music is without melody.

The next component we need to consider is rhythm. VTMMD defines rhythm as “The subdivision of a space of time into a defined, repeated pattern. Rhythm is the controlled movement of music in time. It may be defined as the division of music into regular metric portions; the regular pulsation of music.” Music plays out across the dimension of time, and rhythm is the word we use to organize this. There are two components in rhythm-beat and meter. Beat is the regular pulse of music. Beat plays a prominent role in rock or jazz, but somewhat obscure in romantic era music. When beats are grouped, they become meters. VTMMD defines meter as “Measure of time; arrangement of poetical feet; the grouping of beats into regular patterns. The organization of rhythmic patterns in a composition in such a way that a regular, repeating pulse of beats may continue throughout the composition.” There are two types of meters: (1) Duple meter (a basic grouping in twos) and (2) Triple meter (grouping in threes). Duple meter is 12-12-12 or 1234-1234 pattern. Rock music prefers almost exclusively this type of grouping. Triple meter is 123-123 pattern.

Rhythm should not be the most important part of sacred music. Rhythm often appeals to the feelings. Though we sing to good music, if we change the rhythm, we tend to change the style that we sing in. For example, if we play “I Was Sinking Deep In Sin” (#90) with a boogie blues background, we feel like singing with an Elvis Presley style. It is hard to play carnal rhythms and sing spiritually. It applies not only to the musical instrument but also to the way that we use our voices. Sometimes we use too much curves and flexions in our voices for singing hymns and sacred music. I understand that any good musicians can change the styles of music or rhythms without much difficulty. However, all these skills must be used with discretion. I’ll continue on this subject more to clarify this issue.

Your Pastor,
Pastor Ki

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question 102: What do we pray for in the second petition? In the second petition, [which is, Thy kingdom come,] we pray, That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Please pray for God’s healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements; Bros John Tann & Kevin Tye; Sisters Sarah Carpenter, Wendy Gong, Myung Ki, Michiko Law, Luan Price, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Varadi, Melissa Wong, & Angie Yuen. Special prayer for Anna Wong as she goes for surgery on Wed, 18 May. “The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet” (Hab 3:19).

Please pray for - Baptism of Bro Daniel Volvricht, & membership of Sis Sally Teng; Cambodia Missions: Rev & Mrs David Koo & ministry, Bro Sen Ponneay & Sis Chhun Sonida, & Bro Srun Chivan, in Sihanoukville; Rev & Mrs Luke Kim and their new ministry at Veal Renh (Kampot Province); Bro Joseph Lo (Ebenezer BPC) as he prepares to serve in Cambodia in June & July; Provision of a van for Preacher Chang & her Mandarin ministry; Bro Hai Seng Lim - Sketch n’ Tell ministry in S’pore, Malaysia, Thailand & China; New location for Faith Presbyterian Church-Perth before 1 July; Bro Surish Dharmalingam and his ministry in Laos; Provision of job for Bro Simon Yeo; Expectant mothers - Sisters Michiko & Katie; Journey mercies - Bro Lincoln Law & Sis Serene Wong (Adl), & Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family (UK), Sis Su Sim Toh (Adl)); Safety and God’s blessing on Sunday School picnic tomorrow; Session Meeting this afternoon - for God’s guidance and wisdom.

Congratulations & God’s blessings to Bro Christopher & Sis Rashani Selvanayagm on their wedding yesterday.

Praise and thank God for - Blessed YAF gathering on Friday night; Journey mercies - Rev George van Buuren (Adl), Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family (Sydney/UK), Bro Lincoln Law, Sis Serene Wong (Tas), Sis Su Sim Toh (Qld) and all others who have travelled recently.



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