As I was cleaning up my home office, I came across an article which I had printed out with an intent to write a counterpoint white paper. The text of the article can be found in this URL:

Maybe you've seen this article or at least are aware of this thinking. I would guess that most people on this forum wouldn't find much credibility in this article - even the original author admits some imbalance in the paper and suggests that his own previous conclusions were wrong.

Even so, this kind of thinking prevails in some circles and I wonder if it's widespread. Do any of you still hear statements like:

"Rock Music is Carnal because it makes you want to dance and move"?

"Rock Music is disharmonic and therefore wrong or harmful to your psyche"?

"A study on mice proves that certain music can cause nerve and brain damage"?

There are a lot of things wrong with this broad-stroked article and it's supporting material, not the least of which is the idea of blasting mice with music 24x7 and then killing them to study their brains. 

But that's where I stop. Anyone want to comment? I'm curious if this is mostly a dead issue or if there are still some circles of thought where this is prevalent. If it's still out there, do you think is there any validity to it? Should we take some of this to heart? Should we reject it outright? 

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This brings up in my mind a more general subject, "Is there such a thing as Bad Instrumental Music" (meaning Bad if played properly).  What would constitute Badness in music?  Ole Wild Bill Gothard had his notions, but how might we in this group define Badness Criteria?  Maybe some here do find merit in the Dissonance>Depression, Syncopation>Libertinism.

I once shared music with a fellow director, kind-hearted, gentle, but very conservative.  I showed him scores; a good reader, he put everything with syncopation in one pile, and everything "straight" in another.  Then I played and sang for him the straight ones, which he enjoyed.  I left wondering if I was a fig tree that also produced thistles!  What caused him, a highly intelligent musician, to think this way? 

When I hear the music that totalitarian dictators foist on their people, it is always music without syncopation, music which makes you "keep in step", which has nothing out of order.

When I hear the music that totalitarian dictators foist on their people, it is always music without syncopation, music which makes you "keep in step", which has nothing out of order.

Woa. That's profound - I never thought about that. Wagner, yes? So would we say that march/national anthem type of music is harmful to your country?

I think it is mostly a non-issue now.

With my worship-leading hat on, the only thing that bothers me about different styles of music is that certain styles seem to encourage particular patterns of lyrics or particular ways of expressing thoughts and emotions. So, for example, the singer-songwriter kind of songs we have now lend themselves very much towards individualistic expressions of love (i.e. the classic "Jesus is my boyfriend" kind of lyrics). I guess this is an argument for having variety in musical style.

Hi Stevo,


Well ... music is music.  You might say it is neutral  -- HOWEVER,

I would point out that music can and does create feelings and emotions even without lyrical content.  Music (as opposed to lyrics) creates emotion and feeling - it has “color” - it moves us - it has movement.  WLs should select music style wisely. 

And this from Music in the Balance , Frank Garlock & Kurt Woetzel,Tame, 1984, p. 151 --

"Since music is an emotional language, and since some emotions are wrong for the child of God, then some music is wrong for the Christian" 


Ever listen to "Korn?"  I did once and I must say it created feeling.  It made me feel violent inside -- like I wanted to hit something.  Seriously.  I had no idea what the words were -- but it created that feeling.  I'd say that this feeling does not behoove a Christian person.  It does not "edify" -- lift up.


Just something to think about . . .

God Bless You All!


Some emotions are wrong for the child of God? Are you agreeing or just sharing? I'd like to understand which emotions are considered wrong.

But I agree, music definitely has a mood and while I would avoid the word "wrong" in most cases, I would say that music can be inappropriate for a given purpose. It can express anxiousness or fear or creepiness or many other attitudes. I'm not sure it matters that it has syncopation or certain chord structures so much that it produces a mood or feeling. And certainly I would want the words to match the mood that is produced by the music.

For instance, if I wanted to motivate soldiers to charge an embankment and be aggressive, I might go for Korn. But if I wanted to express a somber and important scriptural theme, I might use more minor chords and harmonies. So I'm thinking the approach is to make the mood and the words/lyrical content match.

I think it's been hinted at already, but over the past 40 years, my experience has been that those who write (and preach) such ideas (that certain styles of music are "bad") are usually standing on a soapbox of insecurity. The only time everything is right in their world is when it's all neatly defined. Personally, I find God continuing to blow out my borders.


Used to be a big fan of Gothard; even ushered at an event once in Vancouver, BC. Thankfully I didn't get stuck on him or his ideas, as one friend of mine did. It totally ruined his artistic flair for life.


As much as I would love the Christian life to come with a roadmap, it doesn't work that way. Like I always say, The older I get, the less I know for sure.

Right on.

One of the great music-moments of my life was at a Gothard seminar in Oakland.  The assembly room was in a big opera house, balconies and balconies full of pastors and wives, at the conclusion, singing old hymns, a capella, from memory.  It flooded my soul with warmth, peace and gorgeous, rich harmony, as if you combined all the forces of a hundred little country churches.  Sweet, delightful.  Coming from such a scene, is it a wonder that some of those present left that day more convinced that their way of singing was really the best, or maybe the only way?

I prefer to call them "Gothard Concerts"

Perhaps, then, some left happy and harmless, but others "got hard"-ened to music outside their sphere.

One of the weird things about the article is this concept of disharmonic. We think we know what it means, but then when we see them applying it, it's really not possible to put a finger on it - it's too fast or too syncopated or uses too many flatted fifths or minor chords. In short, it's nothing more than an invective that becomes convenient to throw at whatever music someone doesn't like. The fact is that a lot of rock or modern music isn't "disharmonic" at all. And a lot of good church music that is well accepted violates the "rules" of "harmonic use" in varying degrees.

I don't know, it's kind of weird to me, but as many of you are confirming, this is really a dead issue. It must be the "train wreck" phenomena - I can't stop staring at it.

Same here. Even in something so traditional as a barbershop quarter, "close harmony" as admired -- harmony that intentionally presses tone against tone; tight chromatics; skillful slides from dissonance to consonance, artful key change -- all sorts of music that challenges the plain world of triadic harmony (yet within a framework, somewhere understood, of traditional chording undergirding the whole thing). 

I'm often surprised when working with rock music how simple the chord structure is -- perhaps the overtones from drums and guitar create think, almost dissonant feelings; or the sheer loudness can simply be hard on the ears. 

But there are so many anomalies.  You don't hear people criticizing jazz for having dissonant harmony, yet part of its great art is in the complex altered chords, ninths, elevenths, thirteenths, constantly shifting from mode to mode. 

I personally think a hefty part of the animosity involved in the pro-and-antirock discussion is about deterioration of personal family relationships between generations, and the selfishness that is encouraged by commercial culture.


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