The spontaneity of contemporary music
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Contemporary music is spontaneous. Organ based - hymn music is designed in a way so that it will never change. An organist can play a score and hit every note just the way it should be hit. Generally, traditional hymn music changes chords on each syllable. So the organ follows and complements the vocal melody. The beat must be just so for the church to sing the song. There isn't room for improvisation or spontaneous arrangement changes (by spontaneous I'm not suggestin you just go off on your own doing your own thing mid-set but I mean changing a structure on a given night).
Contemporary music is written to be disposable. I mean that in a positive way. The chord progressions are generally simple and chords are held for longer. There is room for a piano or electric guitar to improvise in space. This means that for contemporary music, more instrumental voices can be heard and expressed to proclaim God's majesty. Contemporary music is fluid. It can be changed and molded without losing the essence of a song. For example... Blessed be your name can be played slowly or more subdued but it can also be played with a driving rythmn and a celebratory tone.
Contemporary music lives in the chord chart.
What I mean is that contemporary musicians should not feel locked in to a score in the same way as more traditional musicicians. Contemporary musicians are free to create within a song and thus can themselves be praising as well as serving through their strings/keys/skins.
Not only this, but also vocally. Contemporary singers are free to use dynamics in a way that traditional music could not. A singer can inflect emotion with their voice by introducing different volumes and accents. A singer can repeat a line over the top of the congregation or write new harmony and so continually create in praise to God.
This is why I feel that many who have introduced the contemporary music genre into their churches have missed the point. They still enforce a strict regime of following 'the way it is on the cd'. They don't allow their musicians the freedom to express themselves and they continue to enforce 'formal diction' in their singers (formal dction is pro-nounce-ing-your-word-sss-per-fec-tly. Its when the t's sound like d's and every K is heard loud and Klear through the mix). Contemporary music doesn't follow formal diction. It is more like speaking. It is casual. It's spontaneous and it serves us in teaching us not to worship the form but to worship the focus - our great God and his mercy.
With this freedom comes much responsibility but I'll save that for later.
P.S - Photo is of me with the two most spontaneous people I know
Posted byDan at 3:57 PM