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I’ll be using Christianity as my religion of focus, seeing as tomorrow is Sunday and I’ll be singing spiritual songs of our own soon anyway! According to the textbook, Christianity was legalized in Europe in the 4th century and was thus the focus of most songs during the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods (Resonances, pg. 393). As we know, Gregorian chant was first used in the church as a way to sing praise and memorize verses in the Bible, starting with the “Canonical Hours” that the textbook explains was an eight hour service that included a chanting of all 150 Psalms usually in Latin. As the Reformation takes hold and the church does what it can to preserve itself, Giovanni da Palestrina creates the “Mass Ordinary” that sets the precedent for our modern-day liturgy, containing five parts that must be sung or spoken in Latin during the service. In the Baroque era, Bach invents cantatas for the Lutheran church, a multi-part work for voice and instrumental accompaniment, which “reflected on the Biblical readings for the day, interpreted their meaning for the congregation, and prepared listeners to understand and appreciate the sermon.” (Resonances, pg. 414)
Perfectly enough, my boyfriend and I had been discussing a song we last heard a while ago on the K-Love radio station, one that specifically plays “Christian music,” that they haven’t played again since. I went to searching on YouTube and found it the same night!
It was just so different from the other songs that the radio station had on repeat that I instantly found it one of the best (and I don’t usually indulge in songs that dig into the religion all that much.) My favorite part is most definitely at 1:02, where the singer lets his falsetto lead into a small pause until the chorus swells with a crescendo to the namesake of the song. I don’t know what key this would be called, but it’s in that space between major and minor that just makes a song sound so powerful and motivating! Clearly, as the title and lyrics could tell you, the song is all about praising God and finding salvation/a new life through him. The style of this song isn’t exactly what you’d hear at a more traditional church, but you could probably catch it at a more contemporary setting.
And as an extra throw-in for the theater lovers, my favorite Sight and Sound track to date!
Just to rant for my own personal fun, Sight and Sound has got to be the most exciting Christian-related thing I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. It’s as if Broadway turned to the Bible for inspiration and brought it to the stage. The stage itself is built wall-to-wall, so instead of just one straight ahead of the audience, curtains reveal an extension of it to the left and right! Live animals are used in productions! Set pieces are moved in real time and, in the case of “David,” gigantic props are used. Goliath was made life-sized and he moved without looking like it took a lot of effort! My congregation went to go watch the David show as a part of our yearly summer outing, making this the eighth Sight and Sound show we’ve watched (wow!) The scene with this track, “Bathsheba,” in particular stuck with me the whole ride back to our hotel just for how ethereal the vocals were.
Music in the catholic church is mostly used to encourage the congregation to participate during the mass. Growing up, I remember my Sunday class teacher encouraging me to take one of Gospel lectionary and to follow along with the congregation. We would often get dirty looks if we did not follow along and were fooling around. Although it was encouraged, adults would often tell the youth to follow along so that they can believe in the faith and preach the faith forward to future generations. In the assigned reading, it says that the music creates a shared physical experience with others, which is similar to what I said before. I mostly think that the reason our Sunday class teachers pushed it so much is because the faith is getting lost after kids make their communion/confirmation (which is an important ceremony in the church). So, by them using music, it becomes a little more enjoyable rather than listening to the priest speak. Often, the music is used to help transition from one part of the mass to another. One of the more important pieces is called “Alleluia”
“Alleluia” is a piece of music that is used to transition to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a catholic ceremony in which bread is eaten and wine is drunk as a way of showing devotion to Jesus Christ. In my personal experience, this is the one song that always stays consistent throughout the mass, The choir changes their songs for the readings but the song before the Eucharist is always Alleluia. Alleluia consists of the congregation singing “alleluia alleluia alleluia alleluia” but what is interesting is the technique they use. Instead of just singing the words, they hold it out and have multiple pitches during each word. This technique is called melismatic. Melismatic is when multiple pitches are sung during one syllable. It is way more enjoyable and satisfying to the ears in my opinion because it sorts of contrasts against each other. This song does vary towards each church, but this is the best example I could find. Right from the beginning of the video, the men are stretching out the word alleluia with multiple pitches while the lady begins telling a story. The alleluia is really serves as a way for the congregation to join because it is just one word they must sing repeatedly.
A religion that I chose to focus on is Roman Catholicism which is another branch connected to Christianity. Within this religion, music is widely used and praised in all Catholic churches. Some ways in which music is used within this religious practice is during mass when praying to God as well as in different important events. In the article “Catholics and Cultures” goes on to state, “Funerals and weddings almost always include it, in styles particular to each occasion”. While looking at religion many individuals are also prompted into singing within the choir, therefore, learning many of the hymns sung. A piece of music associated with this religion that isn’t featured in the assigned reading would be “Christ Be Our Light by Bernadette Farrell”. This song this piece of music describes as well as expresses religious beliefs and/or serves a religious purpose. This is because it goes on to depict how there are followers within a dark place that are asking christ to take them out of their despair and darkness, to shine a light on them, in their hearts, and within the church. The music that is being heard in this video would be considered homophony due to the one melodic line being accompanied by chords. The timbre is very soothing as the guitar as well as the voice that is singing the song is not high pitch but is being played at a medium-low pitch. As for the rhythm, it has a medium beat when being played not to face but not very slow as well.
Buddhism was “originated 2,500 years ago in india”(National Geographic). Buddhism is practice to relieve ones suffering, through “meditation, spiritual and physical labor” in order to obtain “enlightenment, or nirvana.” In Buddhism music it requires chanting is some way, it also requires of dancing, and some instruments. Chanting is part of the most regional Buddhism.
A song related to Buddhism is a song called, ”Buddham Saranam Gachchami” meaning “I go to the Buddha for refuge”(Meditative Mind). This song is used mostly for meditation while trying to connect with divine forces. it’s also used to clear the mind as a ”freedom of suffering”. In the song we hear three sentences, ”Buddham Saranam Gachchami”, “Dhamman Saranam Gachchami“, and “Sangham Saranam Gachchami“ meaning “I go to the Buddha for refuge”, ”I go to the Dhamman for refuge” and ”I go to the Sangham for refuge”. This song or this chant helps to surrender and bring you peace. This chant is syllabic in other words it only has one or two pitches per syllable.
“Buddhism.” National Geographic Society, https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/buddhism.
Bhatia, Dilpreet. “Buddham Saranam Gacchami Mantra, Meaning and Benefits.” Meditative Mind, 27 Dec. 2019, https://meditativemind.org/buddham-saranam-gacchami-mantra-meaning-and-benefits/.
I am part of the Roman Catholic Church, and music has been a part of my religion since medieval times. Gregorian chant was what was heard in medieval Catholic churches and was the first music to be written down using an early form of staff notation, which modern musical notation is descended from (Unit 11 Reading Packet pgs. 11-12). This monophonic music was used as a way to pray to and worship God. Nowadays the Catholic Church uses psalms and hymns as a way to worship God and the Saints with music. Other ways that music is used in the Catholic Church is by expressing someone strong belief and trust in the faith. Certain music is also used for certain occasions such as a wedding or a funeral that ties into God as well. A piece of music associated with the Catholic Church is the song “One Bread One Body.” This hymn is sung throughout the portion of church where communion is given to the congregation. The hymn uses a syllabic text setting sung by a choir and the congregation. It is common to hear an organ, or a piano being played throughout the hymn. The hymn is meant to express how we are all one in the same with our Lord and how we should be brought together because of Him.
“I am the bread of Life” is a Catholic hymn sung in the Catholic Church.This was created by Suzanne Toolan .The characteristics of the music shows, Homophony. Their is Choir that stands out with the organs playing in the background. The key of the song is A major. This song express religious belief through the lyrics of the hym. This hymn is “based on the bread of life discourse in chapter six of John’s Gospel”. Part of the first verse It says “I am the bread of life.He who comes to me shall not hunger…No one can come to me unless the Father draw him.” This refers to John 6:35 in the Bible of what Jesus Christ was saying to his followers. This song means that through the Heavenly Father, Christ can forfill your needs and longings.
Hymn “I am the Bread to Life”:
The religion I choose to discuss for this assignment is Christianity. My family and I go to a church in New Hyde Park so I do have a lot of personal experience with the religion. Like most other churches, my church has a worship team. We have two; one in our mother tongue , Malayalam, and the other in English. In the worship teams, we have a couple of singers and 1 or 2 instrumentalists accompanying them. With the English worship team, I play the guitar and accompany them with the songs. During the service we go through the Order of Worship, but with the services that are in Malayalam, it sounds a bit more song-like as they tend to sound syllabic in reciting the words. Occasionally there are also these conventions/meetings where we invite other churches to worship with us and make it a night of worship. Typically we sing/play gospel-like music, hymns or other Christian music during the services.
“So in Love” by Isla Vista Worship is a worship group based in California and produce worship songs for joy and to spread the word of Jesus. In a C Major key, going at a tempo of 88bpm, the song begins with a mezzo piano dynamic and crescendos throughout the song until 2:50 where the beat drops and a choir joins in with the main artist. After the 3:30 timestamp, they decrescendo and fade out in the song. The choir provides support in the harmonies and I would say the texture for this song would possibly be polyphonic due to the different melodies of the instruments and the riffs in the background. There are also chords to the song that the band itself has uploaded on to their website of islavistaworship.com. Regarding the form of the song, They have 1 verse, pre chorus, the chorus and the bridge. They play the first verse, the pre chorus and the chorus first but there is one line they sing before singing the bridge and going back to the pre chorus. Im unsure if it would be considered part of the bridge or separate due to the fact that after saying “you have my heart” there is a slight pause before the bridge starts. All in all, this song is the type that would be played during a convention or a worship night due to the powerful emotion of praise that could be heard in the song.
The religion I am choosing for this blog is Christianity. I am choosing this religion because I am Christian and take a lot of pride in that. Worship is a huge part of our church service every Sunday. The first hour plus is strictly worshiping the Lord. The Christian church I attend has the newest technology to make sure worshiping is an easy and amazing experience for everyone. They have two huge screens in the front of the church with the lyrics so everyone can see and sing along. We have a specific pastor for music and a whole band. Drums, flutes, trumpets, guitar, singers, and loud projecting speakers. We worship as a form of prayer. Singing these Christian songs is praying. It might not feel like praying because it can feel like you are at a concert, but worshiping the Lord is praying to him.
One of my favorite Christian songs is “God’s Not Dead”(like a lion) by the Newsboys. This song is one of my favorites because it has a fast tempo. When you think of a “church song”, you normally think of slow tempo, high pitched soft music. The fast tempo in this song proves that church music does not have to be slow songs from hundreds of years ago. You can still worship and feel like you are at a concert. In the lyrics the song states “God’s not dead, he’s surely alive, he’s living on the inside and roaring like a lion”. Singing these words out loud is preaching that you know God is living within you and makes you stronger. The song is a reminder to those who doubt that God is not there for them, but he will always be.
I decided to do some research on the Christian religion to learn more about how they use music within their religious practices to express and share their beliefs. I myself am Catholic and I know that some Catholic beliefs in fact overlap with Christain beliefs since they originated in the same place. According to the textbook, “Within Christianity, there are a variety of chant styles, including Russian Orthodox chant, the Byzantine chant of Greece, Ethiopian Orthodox chant, and Anglican chant.” Christianity was known as the dominant religion of Europe since the 4th century. This is mainly the reason why this religion has many chant styles since they had many religious followers located all over different parts of Europe that spoke different languages. The language was never a problem for religion because it can always be translated. These types of chants were spread through oral tradition and passed through generations of families. This also gave the chants the opportunity to be spread through trade. According to the textbook, “A monk or priest could then bring the chant to a distant community and teach it to the Christians there. This was risky, however, for music in the oral tradition usually changes over time and distance as individual musicians forget how it goes, commit errors, or make intentional alterations.” At the time these chants were being spread through Oral tradition when the Roman Catholic Church was becoming powerful over people in Europe. This led to many religious wars over who was or wasn’t catholic in catholic lands that were ruled by catholic royals. The ideas of Martin Luther impacted the power of the Catholic Church by stating his 95 theses. His main purpose was to write about what was wrong with the Roman Catholic Church. One of his concerns was how the Catholic hierarchy was preventing Christians from experiencing a direct relationship with god.
A Christain chat that is well known since the late 1700s is “Amazing Grace”. It’s categorized as a Christian hymn written by John Newton. He wrote this song for Christians to sing and express their religious beliefs. It can be expressed as a harmonic singing song that creates a gateway for spiritual experiences. This song is part of the Georgian chants and part of Christianity. This piece of music expressed religious belief because the lyrics can be sung from the perspective of a person expressing how they communicate with god. Often people who follow. religion pray to their god to praise him or thank him, and this song is a perfect example of just that.
A religion that uses music I’d like to discuss is Sikhism. It is a monotheistic religion that I personally follow and have family that follow it as well. Music plays a major role in our religion, during times of prayer at Gurduwaras (the house of prayer for Sikhs), we often play “Kirtan”. Kirtan is a major part of Sikhi and many different gurus (people who have devoted their lives to Sikhism) learn to play it. As Ajit Singh Paintal describes it in his document ” Sikh Devotional Music – Its Main Traditions”, “Kirtan is music which overflows with devotion for God, and sings his glory” ( Paintal 19).
A certain Kirtan I would like to talk about is the “Rehras Sahib”. It is an evening prayer for Sikhs and worships our god. It is actually not a Kirtan but many different gurus have converted it into Kirtans and often use different musical elements. For example, in this video I have linked below, you can hear tablas and harmoniums being used. The voice of the guru goes through many different pitches and changes timbre quite frequently throughout the composition. It expresses religious belief through building a greater connection with god during the evening time.