Thursday, June 04, 2009

2009 Spring Semester Playlist

For the most part, I grew up as a classical music kind of a girl. First violin, then cello, piano, voice, handbells, flute, an eensy-weensy bit of harp, and most recently, guitar. In the past several years, however, I've enjoyed a widening taste in music. I still love classical and more than half of my music library is composed of this genre of music. But there is another spectrum of music that has grown to appeal to me greatly. I have found that acoustic contemporary Christian music can have a lot of depth to it . Let me define my terms:
  • Acoustic - Mainly guitar or piano based that is simplistic in instrumentation with minimal unnatural computerized sound effects. A high emphasis is placed on tonal quality and lyrics.
  • Contemporary - I do not mean contemporary to imply excessive drums and a deafening volume of sound. I say contemporary only because this music is definitely not old-fashioned. It appeals to a younger audience but I have shared several of these songs with my parents and even grandparents and they have enjoyed them as well. And in case you were wondering, both my parents and grandparents have pretty conservative music tastes.
  • Christian - Reflecting God's character in both lyrics and sound
I won't turn this post into a long expose' about my views on Christian music. If you would like to hear what they are, then feel free to call or e-mail me and we'll talk. Also, if you would like a larger list of really awesome songs and artists that I enjoy, I'd be happy to share.

The following is a list of songs that have meant a lot to me this past semester. If you listen carefully, you might notice a trend. No, I didn't plan that, but it's there. It tells you a lot about my semester, if you want to know.

I've provided links to the lyrics because I've found that you grasp more of the meaning if you read the words while listening. Enjoy!
  1. Psalm 42:6-11 - Sons of Korah (This is an AWESOME Australian group that plays only the Psalms. For lyrics, open your Bible :> To find out more, visit their website. I would highly recommend their commentaries on many of the Psalms.)
  2. To Be Like Jesus - Matt Minikus (SDA Musician)
  3. Only Love Remains - JJ Heller
  4. The Altar - Nichole Nordeman
  5. Times - Tenth Avenue North
  6. Let That Be Enough - Switchfoot
  7. If I Flee on Morning Wings - Fernando Ortega
  8. Fill Your Lambs - Billy Otto and Gaea Chapman
  9. Equally Skilled - Jon Foreman
  10. Gabriel's Oboe - Yo Yo Ma
  11. Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: III. Poco allegretto - Brahms
  12. Deconstruction - Justin McRoberts


Joel said...

Wow! It's amazing what you can do with technology these days. This is a cool way to share your experiences.

I also appreciate you sharing your thoughts regarding music (although I think your definitions, while fully adequate in this context, could use some firming up). A thoughtful discussion of these issues is always appropriate.

Thanks for sharing :)

Christy Joy said...

I agree they could use some firming up if I were writing a discourse on my music views. But, since that was not my goal in this post, I didn't think it necessary.

Thanks for appreciating :) I worked hard to figure out a way to post all of those up :) And you even liked my html skills ;)

Jonas said...

My Music Theory:

The Bible contains at least 9 references to singing a "new song." (Ps. 33:3 ; 40:3 ; 96:1 ; 98:1 ; 144:9 ; 149:1 ; Is. 42:10 ; Rev. 5:9 ; 14:3) Every reference is immediately juxtaposed with an exhortation to praise God.

I think that the quality which makes these songs "deep" is the musician [God-given talent + a genuine spiritual walk] rather than the idiom [classical or jazz, R&B or New Age etc.]

We should sing a new song. Why not take the same musicians and let them create an idiom of Praise music which is unfettered by associations with Strauss waltzes and Woodstock Festivals?

barry said...

Good thought, John, about associations, but in my mind, rounding out requires the following observation.
--Only some associations are universal, while others are purely personal.
We cannot make fine distinctions of right/wrong based on associations (except on a personal basis), although broad categories can and should be delineated.

I would appreciate enlightenment on exactly what brought strauss waltzes and woodstock festivals to be uttered in the same breath, and which musicians you're referring to who are somehow fettered by associations with these two drastically different genres. Perhaps I'm missing your point?

Christy Joy said...

John - That was a great point about what makes some musical artists more quality than others. I would completely agree. A song is not "good" by my standards just because it falls into the "acoustic contemporary christian" genre. I would be the first to point out that there is some awful music out there that is also part of this same category. However, it just so happens that most of the quality non-classical songs that I personally enjoy fall into that genre. They are categorized by it but not defined.

Christy Joy said...

Note to all: I realized that this post was not my 200th post. It was actually only my 180th. I was mistaken because it counted drafts as well as actual posts and over my 3 years of my having this blog, I have accumulated 20 drafts which I have never posted.

Jonas said...


I agree that fine distinctions are impossible through an associative ocular.

But, do you agree that creating a new musical idiom is possible? Your observation does not necessarily preclude the possibility.

re: waltzes & woodstock. I was attempting to show that there are qualities of music which have historically invoked our appetite for sin (yes, to varying degrees) which should be avoided.

barry said...

John, it all depends on how new your new musical idiom would be. Creating something that sounded as different from all known musical idioms as Romantic is from Baroque, for instance, would be difficult, but I'm in no position to make a judgement on the possibility. Musical idioms tend to evolve rather than appear out of nowhere.

Christy, John and I seem to have hijacked your blog to have a discussion on music styles, which was clearly not the point of your original post.

Christy Joy said...

Barry - I don't mind :) Feel free to continue your discussion. I'm enjoying it. Though it does amuse me that the two of you could just sit down across from each other and discuss it in person. But it's nice that you're including me and my readers in the discussion as well. And anyway, that is what is so fun about comments. They can meander onto vastly different paths than the ones from which they began. Like a bushwack :)

Here's a few thoughts on the topic:
You are correct, John, in emphasizing the Biblical call to "sing a new song". But what does this mean when it gets down to practical application? Like Barry pointed out, it's going to be rather difficult to find a style so different from everything that has been tried before that it will be "new". I believe this invitation to sing a "new song" is intricately linked with the call for God's people to be a "peculiar" people, distinct in worship practices and in lifestyle from the surrounding nations.

Let's take it back to the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. God instructed that the Levites should be in charge of the worship music. Why the Levites? This connects with what you were saying about whether the musician has a genuine spiritual walk with Christ. It was the Levites who refused to join in the heathen worship practices that were displayed at the base of Mt. Sinai in worship of the golden calf. So they had already been proven to be true followers of God and willing to stand alone for the truth. Amos 5:21-24 is an incredible example of this. God desires righteousness first.

But sincerity by itself is not enough! Take, for example, when David tries for the first time to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem. He was certainly sincere, but the death of Uzzah was the result! Because he didn't accurately follow God's specific directions, his praise could not be accepted. Notice that on the second attempt, not only the mode of transport was changed, but also the music style!

Getting more practical, we see that predominantly stringed instruments were used. The harp and lyre. Cymbals are also mentioned quite often but I've looked into it some and scholars say that the cymbals were used by the conductor for cueing purposes. The words were given the most importance and the instrumentation served to emphasize the praise lyrics. The music of the idol-worshiping nations, however, was loud and harsh. That's why Aaron thought there was a battle going on when it was actually just the dancing and singing to the golden calf. If there was such a marked difference then, I most certainly believe that there should continue to be a marked difference now.

Plus, add to all that what EGW says on the topic. She was not a musician but she does mention a good deal about the music of heaven and how we should emulate it.

Just so you know, many of these thoughts are not my own. I've been reading about music in a book edited by Samuel Pipim called "Here We Stand". It's a compilation of essays by SDA scholars on many of the current controversies that are facing the SDA church. I would highly recommend it. It's been my bathroom reading as of late ;)

Jonas said...

Actually, we do sit down and discuss it in person! Usually, though, I'm slow on my feet and do better in a discussion if I have a few hours to cogitate before answering!

Christy: I believe you are saying: "A 'new song' has more to do with the singer (their worship practices and lifestyle) than the song itself... even though the song itself is important also."

I agree that a new idiom must focus on much more than the notes, rhythm, and instruments! Singer and song are inseparable in every idiom. What is Rock without a Rockstar?

A new idiom would of necessity draw from pre-existing ones. It must also divorce itself from pre-existing modes. I'm not suggesting we hum and bang rocks... although that might be the easiest thing to do.

Hard? yes. To me, the alternative seems harder-- to continue trying to balance on a fuzzy line of personal relativism.

Christy Joy said...

I definitely understand your plight. It usually takes me several hours to come up with something cohesive as well. Maybe it's the curse of younger sibling-hood.

Also, that was very nice of you to attempt to restate my scatter-brained wanderings into something tangible :) I did get rather carried away :)

Here's my question: by all this talk regarding a "new" idiom, are you saying that this heavenly, sing-a-new-song idiom of music does not already exist?

I believe it does exist. It may not be common on college campuses but I do believe that it's out there.

But then, we might have different personal views on what is 'heavenly' or appropriate and therefore might come up with completely different answers. For example, did you like the non-classical songs on my playlist? If you didn't, then we have different ideas about music and therefore would have to resolve that issue before deciding whether this "new" idiom exists.

Kristin said...

I finally took the time to listen to the songs you posted on here. I think my favorites (in order) were Gabriel's Oboe, Psalm 42:6-11, and Fill Your Lambs.

Thanks for sharing :)

Christy Joy said...

I'm glad you liked them, Kristin! Isn't Psalms 42 good? It's on Sons of Korah's new album. That one is my favorite! :)

Kristin said...

Yeah, Psalm 42 is actually one of my favorite psalms, although, you have to read it with 43 for it to be complete :)

Jonas said...

I like most of the songs on your playlist, except for a personal taste for a more classical style of vocalization. That said, I found much thoughtful combination of word and harmony.

When I mumble on and on about creating a new idiom, I really mean that we should spend some time defining a genre of music which is different enough that musicians of disparate tastes (in other idioms) can unite to praise God.

So, you could be right about the presence of a unique praise-music idiom..., but since I'm wondering, I maintain that we (Christian musicians) should take some time to define/develop/create this idiom.

Christy Joy said...

So basically, what you're saying is that we should be much more deliberate in our creation of this idiom.

That's an interesting thought, John. And, I think you're hitting on something crucial. The way God originally set it up, musicians (and, subsequently, the music they played) in the temple were specifically selected. It was even a paid position! Judging from much of the music seen in today's churches, we seem to have slipped, willing to play/use whatever style is most popular.

Humans don't like to be different. But that is what God has called us to. I think that is at the crux of the issue.

further random wanderings/musings:
I wonder what that redefine/develop/create a new music idiom discussion would sound like... Who would have it? And what type of enforcement would be applied once a decision was reached? Or is it something that needs to be done by us as individuals for our own lives? Or maybe by families. Or by each church individually and not by the wordwide church? I guess it just seems like no one is ever going to agree on the topic. Unfortunately. I also think that's going to be an issue at the end of time. Are SDA's truly willing to be set-apart, even in their music? When we compromise in the little things (and believe me, I don't really consider music a "small" issue), we will be much more likely to compromise on the big things (Sabbath vs. Sunday). Satan gets us one baby step at a time.

EEK said...

Thank you Christy! I love Gabriel's Oboe, To be like Jesus, and Psalm 4...

linnaea borealis said...

Thanks Christy. I especially appreciated Let That Be Enough. Sometimes life feels like one long wait... Ah, but just to know God's presence and be fulfilled, what a beautiful prayer.

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