Volume. XIX, No. 45
Sunday, 22 May 2005

From the pastors heart: music components 2-rhythm

I have been talking about rhythm since last week. Music cannot happen without time, and rhythm consists of time elements in music. Rhythm may mean repetitive pulse of the music or a rhythmic pattern that is repeated throughout the music. Rhythm is something that we feel from music. The rhythm section of a band almost always includes a percussionist (usually on a drum set) and a bass player. It may also include a keyboard or piano player and one or more guitar players. As I am going to talk more about music components, I think that we will get benefited from reading a portion of Alan Ives’ article on The Difference between Good and Bad Music (http://www.biblebelievers.com/Ives1.html). He talks about something that is very interesting and familiar to us, but not often clearly explained. It is about text painting:

My grandfather had a cousin who played piano in the theatre. All he did was watch the silent films and try to match the piano or organ music with what was happening on the film. There were no words; all that was going to be expressed had to be expressed from the keyboard. Sure enough, there was a guy with the moustache who wanted to marry the pretty young lady with the long, blond hair. She didn't want anything to do with him, though, so he wanted to get rid of her; and at that point along came the hero, who was the man the pretty lady was in love with anyway. The hero was big and strong, and he was a good guy. He was going to deliver the pretty lady from Oil Can Harry. Before the movie was done the bad guy always figures out what to do--if he can't have her, the train's going to get her, so he ties her up to the railroad track. The hero can't rescue the heroine until he catches the bad guy, because the bad guy is keeping him from saving the girl. All of this went on without words. Everything was built up by the accompaniment on the piano. Somewhere in the middle the bad guy is chasing after the good guy to try to throw him over the cliff, and you have the chase music. It is in a minor key because it's not a happy thing, and it moves along rapidly and grows increasingly furious as the scene progresses.

Then they show you the railroad track and the train is coming closer and closer, and the accompanist plays something called a fully diminished seventh chord; and he keeps raising the chord a half step to raise the tension. It's a scary type of chord, and it, too, is played increasingly furious. Then suddenly it's back to the chase, and the chase music starts; then back to the railroad track, and the music is higher this time and more furious; then back to the chase; then back to the railroad track. The pace of the music increases each time, building the drama in the hearts of the audience. What this is called among musicians is text painting. It is painting a picture with melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, on purpose, to affect the way people respond to something. There are a lot of people that make money watching television shows and writing music behind them. When I was a boy, I would turn the sound down when I watched scary movies on television; and lo, and behold, they were no longer scary. Think of some guy minding his own business and walking down a dark alley (No one ever explains why he is walking down a dark alley, probably because he is stupid!) all alone at night. In the background you hear a minor chord building in intensity, and you know something is going to happen any minute because of the music. If you turn the sound off, the effect is ruined. It is the music that builds the drama, that paints the picture. These musicians are painting a picture behind that film, and that's big business. They manipulate people's feelings through chords, melodies, and rhythms.

By now, all of us should know that church music is not irrelevant to our spiritual life. What kind of music we sing and play will have definite impacts on our spirituality. We must remember that CCM is not an exception, and most CCMs are made for sales, too. The same author gives us a few good examples of good and bad rhythms:

Think of "How Firm A Foundation." "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your Faith in His excellent Word." If I play that song with a twinkly, light, "Jingle Bell" touch, with a lot of high notes and a carefree delivery, the mood is wrong for the words. It doesn't fit. The traditional music for this song, on the other hand, is deep, heavy, forceful, and it paints the proper picture of a solid foundation. . . .

Consider "It Is Well With My Soul": "And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll, the trump shall resound..." This is talking about trumpets and the coming of the Lord, and at that point in the song there is actually a fanfare played with the keyboard. That's text painting. All the notes that the pianist plays have a meaning. The timing, the notes, the rhythm--all have meaning. You wouldn't want to put the fanfare at the point in the song which says, "Though Satan should buffet..."! No one wants to herald the coming of the devil. No, the fanfare is for the Lord. . . . Consider "Crown Him With Many Crowns," which is played with a very royal, court-type, march manner because we are speaking of the Lord's kingliness. Likewise, "I Sing the Mighty Power of God" is always sung with a full, deep, stirring sound. . . . Consider, for instance, "Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace." You will notice that the keys are played lightly and softly, in a restful, gentle manner. Why? To depict the peace that the Lord gives. You wouldn't play that with a heavy beat; you wouldn't jazz that up; it would ruin the picture! . . .

When we put the accent on the wrong beat, it becomes different music, and it suddenly appeals to our flesh. Record producers know what kind of rhythms appeal to our flesh and can sell more records, tapes, or CDs. We cannot skip syncopation from the study of rhythm. A syncopation is any rhythm that puts an emphasis on a beat or a subdivision of a beat that is not usually emphasized. VTMMD defines syncopation as “Deliberate upsetting of the meter or pulse of a composition by means of a temporary shifting of the accent to a weak beat or an off-beat.” It is an opposite word to synchronization (placing sound and picture in their proper relationship). Mingzhou Ding, Yanqing Chen, and J. A. Scott Kelso said, “Synchronization is a relatively simple task for humans to perform. Syncopation, however, is more demanding, requiring longer training and a higher level of concentration to ensure quality performance. Moreover, it is known that syncopation is a less stable form of coordination, and that spontaneous switching to synchronization can occur at both behavioural (Kelso, DelColle, & Schner, 1990) and neural levels (Kelso et al., 1992)” in Brain and Cognition 48, 98–106 (2002). You can also read it from

Your Pastor, Pastor Ki

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question 103: What do we pray for in the third petition? In the third petition, [which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,] we pray, That God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Please pray for God’s healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements; Bro Kevin Tye; Sisters Wendy Gong, Myung Ki, Michiko Law, Luan Price, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Melissa Wong & Angie Yuen. Sis Giok Yeo’s sister in law. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart” (Psalm 31:24).

Please pray for – Cambodia Missions: Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi & ministry in Phnom Penh and Kandal Province; pastors and congregations in the villages; Bro Joseph Lo (Ebenezer BPC) & his team as they prepare for Cambodia missions; Bro John & Sis Lydia Saray as they bring up their son in the LORD; Bro Hai Seng Lim – his ministry in S’pore, Malaysia, Thailand & China; Bro Surish Dharmalingam – for his health and ministry in Laos; Expectant mothers – Sisters Michiko and Katie; Provision of job – for Bro Simon Yeo; Journey mercies – Ps Ki (S’pore, Korea); ICCC conference in Korea in June & Sister B-P Churches in Australia.

Praise and Thank God for – recovery of Sisters Sarah Carpenter & Anna Wong from surgery; Baptism of Bro Daniel Volvricht & membership of Sis Sally Teng, Instrumental presentation, & Blessed time of fellowship at the special dinner for newcomers last Lord’s Day; & Sunday School picnic on Monday; Blessed YAF Bible Study on Friday; Journey mercies – Bro Lincoln Law (Warnambool), Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family (UK); Sisters Jamie Lai (Whyalla), Serene Wong & Su Sim Toh (Adl) & others who have travelled recently, & New worshippers.

Church Budget for 2005-6 is being prepared. All fellowship, ministry, & committee group leaders to present their requests for funds to Treasurer, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan, as soon as possible.

Congratulations & God’s blessings to Bro John & Sis Lydia Saray, Sihanoukville, on the birth of a baby boy on Sat, 14 May.

Special thanks to all Sunday School teachers for organising the picnic, and to all others who came for fellowship, & organisers of the newcomers’ dinner.



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