Music Matters (November 9th, 2012)

Ethnomusicology as Christian Responsibility

In this fascinating article, Nick Rynerson at Christ and Pop Culture argues that the preservation and study of music of all cultures throughout the world should be the duty of Christians. He states:

Within the Christian worldview, it is imperative that this culture be preserved and understood. As Christians, we are called to be redemptive culture makers. These cultures are important symbols that help us understand what Theologian Richard Lovelace would call “the spiritual realities” that are presented through culture, such as freedom, liberation and creative expression.

Game’s Future Wife Wants Him to be a Trash Man or a Police Officer

The stress of being in the public eye can be a lot for a spouse to take on and Game’s  fiancée, an elementary school teacher, would rather have in a public service job than be in hip-hop. Game said, “She’s trying to find her balance between the love she has for me and hip-hop taking that away from her on a day-to-day basis.” This is a hard balance to achieve when someone has a lifestyle career and especially when a hip-hop lifestyle could be detrimental to their coming nuptials.

From Complexity to Minimalism

Classical composer Elliott Carter died on Monday at 103 and his body of work is full of dense, complex music. As Anthony Tommasini notes, “Carter’s music could be exasperatingly complex” (emphasis mine). Carter is most well-known for the creation of a musical device , metric modulation, which the composer compared to shifting gears in a car. One thing which Carter’s music does is confound the musicians who play his pieces as well as the audience who hears them.

In another story, Nigel Godrich, the producer for several Radiohead albums, formed a band of his own named Ultraísta. According to Godrich:

Ultraísta is inspired by the extremism of futurist ideas. It’s all about the art of repetition – making loops that sound computer-generated, yet are played by humans – combined with the notion that pop doesn’t always have to be crass.

Matt Deihl at Rolling Stone describes their sound as, “…a beguiling experiment in hybrid theory, deconstructing syncopated African grooves, krautrock experimentalism and eccentric electronics via contemporary recording technology.” The way the trio created the music (and accompanying videos) was as unorthodox as the music:

“It’s almost like remixing,” Godrich says. “Sometimes Laura would sing melodies to thin air, and we’d add the music later.” Bettinson notes that some of Ultraísta’s flickering, edgy videos were even shot “before we’d refined what the final lyrics were.”

What Godrich and Carter have in common is creating futuristic music which transcends the typical confines of their particular musical genre. Carter is more in line with modernist approach of complexity, while Godrich finds complexity in the simplistic structures of repetitive loops. Both composers also use unorthodox means to create their music making the process more mechanical and intellectual without allowing their humanity to shine through. It makes one wonder if being a slave to a musical process in making one’s music keeps that person from exploring musical ideas which come from their deepest humanity and expressing glimpses of the imago dei.

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