The Reason for Music


One of the books I'm currently reading is Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste by Nolan Glasser, chief architect of the Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project. It's a 770 page doorstopper of a book that seems to encompass anything you'd ever want to know about music. After two months of sporadic reading my Kindle says I'm only 11 percent done, but I've already found some tasty quotes. 

Here's one from super-thinker Steven Pinker about the utility of music:
music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of... our mental faculties.

I guess Pinker is saying that music has no usefulness. It's like a fattening, sugar-laden dessert, superfluous and purely for pleasure. Keep in mind that Steven Pinker is a stalwart atheist.

German composer and Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, on the other hand, believed that music is a gift from God. He advocated for uniting people as a congregation and worshiping God in heartfelt song. Before then, music was relegated to Roman Catholic priests and monks who sang in Latin, a language the common folk did not understand.

So it's not surprising Luther had strong feelings about music. Here's what he wrote as a forward in a collection of musical compositions. His peppery personality is on full display here.

Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms. This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God. 
However, when man's natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. 
A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.

My perspective, albeit unpolished and only partly informed, is that music is a tool. We can use it for good or evil purposes. I liken it to humour: it's a healthy coping mechanism. It releases endorphins. It feels good and lifts the mood. It can also be used to make people feel angry, sad or buy more stuff

One of the best ways we can use music is to worship and praise Christ. In return we are blessed and mysteries of His kingdom are revealed through the inspired lyrics. 

 All this, and with zero calories.

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