Music That Moves the Emotions

May 23, 2018 at 3:01 PM 4 comments

I recall living in Center City Philadelphia when I matriculated at Philadelphia College of Bible (it has since changed its name several times and no longer stands for what it was founded on, which is severely disappointing but all too routine with Bible colleges today that began decades ago). I also recall shopping at Wanamaker’s department store not too many blocks east of the school. You’d walk in and hear either Muzak (easy-listening versions of musical hits without singing), or on certain occasions a real person playing the pipe organ for entertainment. It was very nice, soothing in fact.

Very few stores today have anything like this. Last time I ventured inside a Nordstrom’s, the only music they had came from the real person playing the piano. He was dressed in a tux. But go into just about any store today and you will likely be bombarded with hip hop and/or some type of electronic so-called music that is overdubbed with many effects with Pro Tools so that the singer(s) sounds android-like.

I grew up listening to all sorts of music. I play drums, piano and some trumpet. I was always involved in school or church choirs, choruses, and bands. It was very enjoyable to me because of the music we played. One of my favorite pieces to play was in the 7th grade when we played Basin Street Blues and as second trumpet, I had the solo. It wasn’t a particularly difficult solo, but it was fun to play.

During the mid-to-late 1960’s, life in America was changing. The hippie movement, along with free love, drugs, and communal living began pushing its way to the fore. Eventually, music started getting strange. The Beatles, who started out with the simplicity of I Wanna Hold Your Hand morphed into LSD-inspired Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and other weirdness.

Groups like Journey and other Arena Rock bands tried to hang on, but eventually, they changed as well. With the introduction of “hard rock” and then “metal,” music became much darker and more intentional in bringing out angst in people. But during this time, Muzak hung tight in many stores and elevators. Once you walked in off the streets, you felt a calm wash over you. You could slow down, take your time and just shop. Today, I often hurry to get out of stores into the quietude of my own vehicle.

The original movie, Rollerball starring James Caan really brought this music thing out as part of its plot. In that futuristic society, a type of Muzak was piped in everywhere anyone went in an attempt to calm people down. The only place it was not utilized was in the Rollerball arena where violence lived and where team mates often got hurt (some to death) because of the brutality of the game. It obviously wouldn’t work to use Muzak as the backdrop for that because Rollerball was the only place where people were allowed and encouraged to get seriously excited about something.

Drive down the street of any city these days and it won’t be long before a car pulls up to you at the light with the most heinous “music” emanating from the inside. You’ll likely hear many swear words with the mother of all swear words in frequent use. It is hip hop/rap at its excruciating best and it is meant to offend. It is also meant to incite.

I went to Lowes this morning to return an item and purchase some 2 x 6 pieces of wood. As soon as I entered the store, my ears were assaulted with today’s “music” with a young gal screeching to hit the highs and repeating the same words over and over and over…and over. I mentioned to the woman helping me that if she could tell the manager for me that the music is terrible, I’d appreciate it.

Tell me, why do I need to hear hip hop (or any music at a volume that makes it difficult to talk with the person next to you), when I go to Lowes or any place where I’m willing to spend my money? Why do we need music at all in stores? Is it designed to empower some people (who might like that style), while chasing the rest of us out of the store?

I think we would all agree that music has the ability to affect our emotions. You don’t think so? Watch some videos on the ‘Net to see how it affects people. If you watch a video of a metal band performing for an audience, you will see the way fans react to that. Often, there is a “mosh” pit or people slam into each other as they “dance.” They are emotionally affected by what they are listening to. There is actually a science behind music. Melodic chords tend to calm people down, helping them to achieve a sense of well-being and emotional balance. Dissonant chords do the exact opposite. This is fact. There is little debate.

Can we then trust our feelings if they are reacting to the type of music we listen to? No, we cannot. I was watching some John Tesh videos recently from his Worship at Red Rocks concert. It was all what we would call Christian worship music. The problem? It was very clear that the music and words were creating the feelings that people felt. At one point, you could see tears streaming down Tesh’s eyes. Others in the choir and the audience had the same reaction. You may think me overly critical or cautious here, but please remember, I’m a drummer and have played many styles of music most of my life. I’ve played in secular bands, church bands, cantatas, and even recorded professionally. I stopped playing in church long ago and have vowed never to do so again. I mainly play drums for exercise now; an exercise my cardiologist approves.

The problem with music is that, for good or for bad, it has the power to move our emotions, which is not necessarily a good thing. When our emotions react powerfully to something, we tend to see that emotional response as either good or bad (depending on whether the reaction feels good or bad). If good, we tend to embrace that feeling as new truth. If bad, we often believe the exact opposite about that emotion. But emotions were not meant to teach us truth at all. We have to be extremely careful.

When I hear hip hop or rap, I immediately take umbrage. I get annoyed. My wife and I were at Applebee’s not too long ago and after we sat, I realized the music being piped into the seating area was all hip hop garbage. It was loud and obnoxious and it made it difficult to have a conversation or think of anything except how annoying it was. We should have left then, but instead, I asked our waitress if she could turn the music down and she immediately said she would. There was no change. The couple next to us then asked if the music could be turned down and again the answer was “yes,” but there was again, no change.

Why do we need so much music in society? Why must we be bombarded with noise? Whatever happened to Muzak that was deeply in the background and was there only to serve as support in the potential awkwardness of silence? Music now assails our ears and minds everywhere we go 24/7/365. It seems impossible to avoid it. Go to any restaurant or any store and you’ll be assaulted with noise. Even my bank now plays electronic music. At the gas station, while I fill up my tank, I often must hear and see a video of some talking head giving me tips on this, that, or the other thing.

It’s really become appalling. The last time my wife and I had to go to Kohls, I brought ear plugs along which helped to reduce the noise to a very manageable level. Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe I just like silence more now than noise.

The trouble is that we have a generation of people today who react to the music they listen to for good or bad, but mostly bad. I marvel that so many young people regardless of race listen to hip hop and/or rap. I don’t get it at all considering the vicious lyrics built into these “songs.” There is really no redeeming value in much of it based solely on the lyrics alone. Yet, it has and continues to captivate young minds just like “death metal,” another style of “music” that has captured young hearts and minds.

Like the ultra-violence in movies and video games, today’s so-called music has invaded and taken control of the average young person today. It has taught them put critical thinking aside and to allow their emotions to think for them. They react to life the way the music they listen to advises them to react to life.

For too many people, music is doing tremendous harm because of the lyrics that are constantly being fed to them as well as the discordant style of the music itself. This can easily happen in so-called Christian music as well. Repetitive lyrics and chords, emotive music and heretical teachings built into the songs are designed to cause our emotions to speak to us loudly – overriding anything that smacks of critical thinking. All these things tend to teach us to just “go” with the flow of whatever the music teaches. It’s really a dangerous precedent and one that is overtaking secular and Christian society.

John Tesh’s Christian music seems designed to do the same thing as it captures the emotions and leads us by those emotions, often away from truth. This is clearly not a good thing. Many Scriptures speak to the fact that we need to be critical thinkers, not led by our emotions.

How many times have you cried at a sad scene in a movie? I’m sure you’ve done it but not necessarily for the reason you think. Sure, the scene itself might have been touching with actors doing a very good job of selling the scene making you forget you’re watching a movie. But the most important aspect of that scene was put in during post-production: the music and sound effects. Gifted movie music composers create music that compliments each scene and helps drive that scene and bring out the required viewer’s emotions.

This may sound simplistic or even ridiculous, but I believe if music played a far less important role in society, people would be calmer and more thoughtful. Instead, we have people – both Christians and non-Christians – who are highly reactive because they have come to rely on emotions. This much music tends to drown out our own thoughts, not allowing us to think for ourselves. It is a form of tyranny from which it is difficult to escape. Society suffers because of it. I’m sure if I said I thought this was part of a plan to move society in a particular direction, I’d be seen as a “conspiracy theorist.” But Satan works overtime and without the need to sleep to pull people away from God. Music can be used as a major distraction to that end.

That’s my pet peeve for the day. Draw close to God through His Word. Get to know how He has worked in the past and how He says He will work in the future. Step away from the noise in society whenever possible.

Entry filed under: Agenda 21, christianity, Communism, Cultural Marxism, emergent church, Emotional virtue, eternity, Global Elite, Life in America, new age movement, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , .

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4 Comments

  • 1. Grace  |  May 28, 2018 at 2:58 AM

    I am getting old, too. Too much noise maketh one resistant to leaving’s one quiet home. Lol. Yes, I agree that there is too much noise pollution out there in the world. But seriously, God created sound – frequency – and much, much more beyond our comprehension. The sound of music is not something to be defined. And it is not to be feared, any more than the power of God Almighty is. Music (in all forms) can be powerful, and yes it can move us to tears. It can also be a precious daily expression of our deep affection and love for our Creator, Provider, Healer and Savior – and His loving grace over us. Music can also be a horrible twisted distorted application of what God intended to be beautiful. Satan is a pro at ripping off God’s gifts to us, and in the case of music, he’s given us sound pollution, a lot of stinky disgusting garbage. That’s what satan does. He twists, distorts and destroys that which is good.

    The sounds we can create with our vocal chords and instruments DO produce good fruit. Yes, music can move us emotionally. But I do not believe emotions are bad. God gave us emotions, and for that fact alone, it makes them good. But, as you said, we are also instructed to not let our emotions “lead” us. We must align our hearts & emotions with His truth in scripture. In the heart of a true Believer, music has the power to spark passion to follow Jesus with boldness and JOY, and wholehearted devotion to His Word. For me music has done this.

    I love music and will never stop playing my instruments to praise the Lord (keyboard, guitar, flute, percussion, and hopefully many more to come!). I love to do this as often as I can with other Believer’s too. We are practicing for eternity! I hope I am making a joyful sound, which is not torturing others. Ha. There is a wonderful joy in the Lord in gathering with other saints to play, praise and honor the Lord in song. To stop, would be to deny all that God has created us to be – worshipers of our God Most High. We will be worshiping Him for all eternity. Him alone. He is worthy of all our praise and worship. Everysingleday. It is Jesus in me, my hope of glory, which compels me to do so… So sing, play and praise on ye soldiers of the Lord! 🎼🎵🎶 Blessings in Christ.

    • 2. modres  |  May 28, 2018 at 8:10 AM

      Thank you. No, emotions are not necessarily bad but not all emotions are good either.

      I enjoy music and I enjoy singing but there’s too much that simply grates in me just as a constantly barking dog is allowed to bark at all hours of the day and never taught that barking is important and has its place but must also be controlled.

      Again thanks for your comments and Lord bless. 😎

  • 3. LW  |  May 23, 2018 at 6:58 PM

    Very thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. Thank you for putting into words what I also have come to notice. I don’t think you’re a conspiracy theorist, perhaps we don’t think like this enough. Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.

    • 4. modres  |  May 23, 2018 at 7:20 PM

      Thanks very much for your kind words.👍🏼


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