The Resurrection in music: an exercise

16 Apr

Here are two attempts to picture the power of the Resurrection in music. The first takes a bit longer to develop; give it about a minute and a half. The second is quicker; give it about thirty seconds.

Both begin with a measure of solemnity, attempting to portray the death of Christ, then both build to a triumph in the Resurrection.

The question: are they doing the same thing? Are there differences in what they communicate?


Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Music, Worship


3 responses to “The Resurrection in music: an exercise

  1. christopheram

    April 16, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Easy answer: No, they are not doing the same thing. They couldn’t be doing the same thing.

    Difficult answer: I’m not able to comment on how Bruckner does what he does, but Bruckner’s piece feels like inanimate objects are going to start crying out. The dynamic change is nearly painful, but not even almost inappropriate to the subject matter.

    I am, however, able to comment on how the other piece works, having spent several years in rock and worship bands.

    The Ghetties are using a pop form, so they must use colors that belong to that limited palette (key change, delayed entry at 3:04; dragging out the “graaaape” at 2:30 and “frommmmm” at 3:30). Also, all dynamics in (this species of) pop music depend nearly exclusively on the drums and cymbals. They peak out in their dynamic range well short of what the subject calls for. I suppose they have to use compression so they can sell it to people with low-end equipment, but the result is a dynamic range that goes from about 3 to about 5 1/2, mostly in the form of the drummer destroying his crash cymbals and doing heavy fills on the kick drum. The other musicians fill in as they’re able, but that just makes it harder for people to sing along (which is what I assume the words on the screen are for).

  2. Steven Anderson

    April 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    I find the style of music in the second song to be an offense to my soul. I cannot believe that God is honored and pleased by that style of music. The first piece of music, while not perfect, seems to have spiritually uplifting qualities. I know this is not a “scientific” answer, but if the ear is the conscience of sound, and one’s conscience has the ability to perceive right from wrong, then it is no more fallacious to affirm that rock music is evil because it sounds evil than to affirm that violence is wrong because it feels wrong. Pierre Marie François de Sales Baillot writes about a moral goal in the arts in The Art of the Violin (L’Art du violon), a famous 19th century work:

    “In our musical system, a relationship exists between the intervals, a physical order which has no better judge than the ear. The ear is the conscience of sounds; it shows us what can support this physical order or disturb it. It is in this way that our conscience enlightens us as to what is good or bad, according to moral order. . . . The artist should always consult this secret voice, the wise counselor of an immortal soul. By leading the artist to make noble sacrifices, the secret voice makes him consider things on the highest plane, causes him to make his choice, and gives his spirit a warmth and strength of conviction that spreads through all his work.

    “. . . . To the artist, beautiful becomes the synonym of good. The first, taken from the work of the Divine, is this ensemble which strikes the senses, leaving a strong and lasting impression whose unity is its principle attribute. The other is this same beautiful internalized, or rather felt by the calm and happiness it brings our conscience. . . .

    “The artist must work in order to unite these two types of excellence; he will succeed if, after deep study, he acts following the moral impulse that leads to solid success. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wanted no other proof of the worth of a book than the state of mind in which the reader found himself after reading it. Although the effect of a piece of music cannot be compared in all respects to that of a literary work, we cannot deny that music, which is thought of as the expression of our feelings and the language of our passions, has a very great influence on our soul.”

    Citation: The Art of the Violin, ed. and trans. by Louise Goldberg (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 11-12.

  3. Michael Riley

    April 22, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Let me offer my (overly compressed) impression: in the first, I am made to observe the triumphant resurrection of the risen Christ; in the second, I am inclined to feel that I am being raised.

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