Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Music of the Spheres

Yesterday, I was tuning my guitar.

My ear is not quite good enough to accomplish this task without a tuner, so I sat, strumming one string at a time until the lights moved from red to green.

To ensure a proper tune, I strummed a 'G' chord.  The vibrations, frequencies, and harmony of the strings told me the guitar was indeed properly tuned.

And I asked myself at that point: why is this so?  Why is it so that certain frequencies come together to produce sounds which are pleasing to the human ear?  And why is it that if a certain string on the guitar is pressed improperly, there is dissonance and dis-harmony?  How is it that humankind can pick out the harmony between frequencies and then see that something is out of tune?  Why should such harmony exist in nature?

And it led me to reflect on the nature of music.  I do not know of a culture that does not have some sort of music in it.  Going back to recorded history, I do not know of a culture that did not have some sort of singing or dancing in it.  Why does humankind want or even need music?  What is the reason behind it?

As I thought of such things, I tried to approach it from an evolutionary standpoint.  Some research led me to a couple of fine articles here and here

There are a couple of evolutionary theories floating around as to the origins and then continuance of the use of music, but I cannot help but think there is something deeper.  I mean, I am a music lover, and quite often I find myself singing a long to a song or having it playing in my head over and over and over.  And from an evolutionary standpoint, this is not good.  Not at all.  It is a distraction from the world around.  Perhaps you are like me in that you have been so caught up in a song that you fail to take notice of the world around you.  Traffic accidents have happened this way.  People have crossed into the street while walking and jogging failing to take notice of the changing of traffic lights.  The consequences in nature can be even more devastating--particularly for those living outside of the concrete jungle.

Singing and humming in nature can cause one to miss some tell-tale sounds of death--a rattlesnake rattle, the stealthy stalking of a predator.  Such sounds can alert prey when on a hunting expedition.  Neither of these things are helpful to survival.

Perhaps there is a sexual connotation to such music, but honestly, does music and dancing always lead to sex?  Apologies to those fundamentalists who believe so, but no, it doesn't.

Music definitely taps into the human soul and spirit.  It taps deep into the recesses of the heart.  It comforts, excites, inspires, enrages, and so forth.

I believe God has gifted humanity with a world in which those frequencies can be produced in harmony.  I believe it is one more example of His handiwork, and ultimately, music should be used to praise Him.

When I lead kids at a local pre-school in singing praises to God, I find a wondrous thing taking place.  Transformation.  Smiles.  Joy.  Radiance.  Music taps into these things--especially when directed toward the Creator.

Yes, I am sure there are other "explanations", but I think them unsatisfactory.  Take a listen to a recent rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" which has gone viral.

Tell me the reason it has gone viral is due to some sort of longing for sex or other such thing.  Not there.  This song, along with others, touch something deep within our spirits--a "voice" of God.

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