I listened in on a conversation between some of my older relatives the other day. They were discussing the topic of music, specifically music in the Church and how it has changed and according to them, not for the better. They mused on about how they missed the old hymns which for the most part were full of rich theology and very easy to sing. On the newer contemporary Christian worship songs they thought that the theology in the lyrics had been cheapened and the melodies had become more complicated to sing. I thought about this for a while and thought that in some cases they may have a point, but that theory should not be used for the entire hymns vs. contemporary debate as there are always exceptions to the rule either way. In the end my relatives came to the conclusion that it is good to include both contemporary music and hymns in a worship service, but I wondered if they didn’t have a point after all, and if that point didn’t just apply strictly to “Christian” music.
In the classical period of music where you had you Mozart, your Beethoven, your Bach, these guys would write symphonies which were long works of music compared to your three minute song on the radio. They spent long periods of time writing this great music…and how often do you hear it on mainstream radio these days? Sure you can find it special channels on satellite radio if you have it, but considering it was the main music for generations for a period lasting a good 200 years, it is interesting how we’ve traded those long epic songs for short 3 minute concepts that don’t even make sense, like “Your Body Is A Wonderland” How can somebody’s body be someone’s whole world? I like John Mayer’s stuff, but that particular concept just doesn’t make sense. Then there comes the concept of cheap lyrics in songs these days. An example would be The Black Eyed Peas “My Humps” which is essentially a song about breasts. (There’s probably too many songs exploiting sex these days) What purpose does that song serve, does it do the public any good to hear about these things? Like I said before, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are still people who compose modern day symphonies…although they don’t get as much air play as they probably should. Also there are well written songs with meaningful lyrics that you can hear on the radio if you know where to look.
I will say this in closing. Music as a concept has not gotten any better or worse over the years, it all depends on the creativity of the composer. As with anything in any discipline, you have the good stuff and you have the bad stuff (And with music, it all depends on what you like). You just have to know where to find the good stuff.