Thursday, January 13, 2011

Discussion questions about music

I've had frequent occasion in the past to post about aesthetics and the objectivity of beauty. Yet I feel I have only begun to scratch the surface of the questions that Christians must carefully think through with regard to the arts in general and music in particular. Here are some discussion questions I recently wrote for Christians as they struggle to think Biblically about muisic.

Apart from a song’s words, is the difference between good and bad music merely a matter of personal taste?

Folk music and classical music tend to be multi-generational, whereas pop music tends to be mono-generational? Why is this and what are the implications?

What is the difference between music that glorifies ugliness vs. music which realistically portrays the ugliness and emptiness of life without God? Is it appropriate for Christians to listen to music in the latter category?

Are there objective criteria for determining whether a piece of music is good?

If form (music) and content (words) should work together in a good piece of music, does it follow that styles which are inherently aggressive and angry are the best medium for singing about life without God?

What are some of the ways that contemporary music glorifies death? How should Christians think about that?

How much filth should be tolerated in music if that filth is part of a redemptive story-line?

In what way can God’s character function as a standard for evaluating music?

Are there aspects inherent to the musical genre which make it particularly potent as a subtle conduit of ideology?

In what way is our creation and enjoyment of music an outworking of the dominion mandate?

Just as some food is good in small doses but bad if part of a continuous diet, are there types of music which are good in small doses but bad if used too frequently?

Is certain music inherently sinful?

In his ideal republic, Plato favoured censorship because he recognized the power of music to corrupt the citizens. Was Plato’s basic concern correct?

What are some scriptural principles undergirding our evaluation of music?

Should Christians avoid listening to music that has a pagan worldview?

Is someone’s taste in music fixed like the color of their eyes, or can someone be trained to enjoy different styles of music? If the latter, then how?

To what extent does the goodness or badness of a piece of music depend on the context in which it us being used?

Further Reading


Anonymous said...

Those are great questions. Over the past five or so years (I am 29) I have gradually "trained" myself to avoid/dislike much of the music I so cherished in my late teens and early twenties (mainly 60's and 70's classic rock). I can no longer separate the form from the content and the overall worldview of the music. I was asking myself many of those questions you posed along the way. Praise God.

The Poor Blogger said...

I think about this often, but especially in the context of worship music. I was raised on Reformation/Enlightenment era hymns followed by Fanny Crosby and, later, to 80s Maranatha brand. Through the St. Louis Jesuits and John Michael Talbot I was introduced to liturgical music (more or less) and, finally, to real liturgy. Here are two questions I can't answer in relation to this issue:

What is the end of worship music and does that end justify the means?

If Jesus had been incarnate in China or N. America, would music be different? Does chant just reflect the culture of Greece/Rome/Israel or is it what God wants?

Buy Essential Oils at Discounted Prices!