It is amazing how one can travel from the Caribbean to an East Asian country, sing a song in English or play an instrumental, and a local would be able to understand or at least be able to relate to the song/piece. Even South Korean pop star Psy’s 2012 hit “Gangnam style” is an anomaly, gaining heavy approval in heavily English, French and Spanish speaking western countries, even becoming the most viewed video on YouTube of all time, while being a song written almost in its entirety in Korean. The power of music is evident, the art-form is vibrant, the potential is vast. The development of music is something that I have a passion for. No, I do not consider myself a maistro. No, I do not consider myself an expert teacher. And definitely NO, I am no Beethoven, George Benson, or Aaron Lindsay. I am an appreciator of music and an advocate for the use of one’s given creative skills in the enhancement of the art of music.
My passion is both a generalized and a non-generalized one; I love the general professional aspect of musical arrangement (whether secular or Christian). When I say that, I am not saying that I have one foot in the world and one in the Church. What I mean is, for example, I would hear certain music on the street, in a bus, etc and I would hear certain instruments and arrangements used that would seize my attention. In such a case, my appreciation would be solely musical arrangement. For Gospel music, the case is different.
About a year or so ago, I wrote a blog entry entitled “Kingdom music: the rise or the fall?”. I was inspired to write it when some uncertainty arose in my mind as to the present state of Christian music; is it rising or declining? For a determination to be made as to whether such an increase or suppression is occurring would depend on (1) if the Gospel message is being proclaimed without being tainted, and (2) if an individual would avail themselves totally to the will of God to be used to produce music. The second point is my main focus here, particularly in the area of creative input.
One night, my wife and I attended a church function where funds were being raised to support a friend of ours for ministry that she had to undertake in another country. We went there both to support and to give a spoken word poetry performance as part of the cast of ministers. One young man, clearly passionate about producing his own music, went up on the altar and gave a soca rendition of a song that he wrote. He was not accompanied by the band but, instead, a track was played. To my suprise, the track was the instrumental from Trinidadian soca star Kerwyn DuBois 2014 hit song “Too real”, a song that was popular during the carnival season in Trinidad. Added to that, although creating his own lyrics, the young man sang his lyrics in the same melody of that which was used by Mr. DuBois. Now, I am sure there are some who will read this and say “so what? Nothing is wrong with that!”. For many people that night, it was a good-sounding effort at music that held potential. People that said that, of course, probably never heard mr. DuBois’ version. My point is, there is no need for us to depend on the creativity of the secular when we were and are continually blessed by the author of creativity!
Music is powerful, as I stated before. It is amazing how normal language cant stifle the effects of music. Instrumental performance is an even stronger influence. One can envision jazz musicians in a night club playing their hearts away. There might be a high chance that everyone in the club wouldn’t be able to speak English, Spanish or whatever the native language of the musicians would be. However, one language they would be able to understand is music. Such a powerful tool cannot be void of creative input, especially in the Kingdom of God. In arranging songs for worship or for studio production, creativity can be implemented. Maybe there is a typical way of ending a song that has been used for years in the church – why not change it up a bit? Many churches get comfortable with the same musical instrument accompaniment – typically a keyboard, a bass guitar and the drums. What about strings, brass, the steel pans? Maybe there are people in the church who know how to play those instruments and need motivation to continue, or they are interested in learning them. Maybe the keyboardist can explore sounds on the keyboard beyond typical “piano” tones. That’s the surface aspect of this topic. There are Christians who do most of their music production in studios rather than Church services. You must consider how your music can be enhanced more to a quality that is not mediocre.
Lets face it, Christian music is in fact known as one of the least creative musical genres. That is heavily because there is a tendency for many believers to glorify the world and use its material than to depend on God Himself. It all boils down again to the two points mentioned before, those points being:
(1) The declaration of the Gospel in an untainted way.
(2) The submission of the minister to the will of God.
I wanna see Kingdom music rise and develop. And guess what? I know you do too! 🙂