Question about Christianity and Music in General
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Author:  paulrace [ Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Question about Christianity and Music in General

A reader writes:

The history of ccm was fantastic - so many memories come back. Thank you Jesus for CCM in the 1980's!

I am a high school history teacher and present a lesson on the importance of Christianity in Western/American culture. I have good info. on science, politics, government, social charities, education, etc. What I don't know much about is music. How has Christianity affected Western/American music? Every time I watch "The Voice" it seems like half of the contestants got their start singing in church. Thoughts?

Thanks for getting in touch. I don't even know where to start.

Written music in the West pretty much originated in the church. The first written multipart singing originated in the church. Modern harmony (as in Bach/Well-Tempered Clavier) originated in the church.

There are secular parallels in Medieval and Baroque (Renaissance) music, of course. By the beginning of the Classical era, patrons helped "secular" musicians survive and produce their music, but even many "secular" early Classic musicians also wrote masses, etc.

Later Classical and most Romantic composers would write exclusively for "secular" audiences and in some cases have very little to do with religion, but the harmonic structures they used, in fact the very scales they used, were developed by church organ players centuries earlier. Later Expressionists composers attempted to get completely away from those traditional harmonic structures, but you still hear traces. And hardly anyone listens to those folks anyway. :-)

Folk and popular music of the 18th and 19th century tended to use simplified versions of the same harmonic structures that the classical musicians of those eras did. One possible exception might by the prevalence of pentatonic-based songs in Celtic music. But those sounds musical styles were borrowed heavily by hymn writers of the same eras, including Wesley, Crosby, and the "Sacred Harp" writers of North America. So there was cross-fertilization at all times. :-)

On this continent, the "spirituals" and party songs of enslaved peoples influenced most American-based forms of musical expression, including Gospel, minstrel, blues, jazz, musical theater, and rock. ... and_r.html

Hope this helps - Paul

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