Music Questions to be Answered Later

How to choose the right type of music for personal use?

Melvin Hill, Chairman, Music Department, Union College

THE Seventh-day Adventist denomination follows Bible teaching and has edicts as to Sabbath observance, diet, tithing, education, church elder and deacon behavior, and the like. However, one of the important areas of per­sonal relations has not been adequately ex­plored, and that is listening to, and the perform­ance of, music. How does one know how to choose the right kind of music for personal use? We will make a few obvious queries, and in issues to come will discuss these.

The part of our music life that we should be most concerned with is the use of sacred music. Should it be all quiet and subdued, sweet and sentimental; should popular styles of delivery be used to sing sacred music because that is what is best known? What makes music sacred? Is it just having a tune to a more or less sacred text? How can each person gain a blessing from the music sung and listened to during the many re­ligious services he attends? What kind of re­corded music should be listened to during the sacred Sabbath hours? Should all sacred music be familiar, or should it be the "long hair" type?

Second, what about everyday secular music?

The writer wishes to express appreciation to H. B. Hannum of La Sierra College and Paul Hamel of Andrews University for material used in his articles that he gleaned from lec­tures and writings of theirs.

Is everything coming from the radio or TV set all right to listen to? If not, what criterion should one use to adequately judge the worth of music? How much should the influence of music on us personally and collectively have to do with our choice of music? Is there really any valid way to classify music for the Christian's consumption?

Third, what is music really for, anyway? Is it just a nebulous cloud drifting in the back­ground, against which life in its various sem­blances is carried on? Or should one stop, come to respectful attention, and listen carefully to every nuance of the performance whether it is canned or live music?

Fourth, what are proper manners at a live concert? Is soft talking or walking out in the middle of a concert good manners? 'What criti­cisms of live performances are valid, and when is it simply criticism with a subconscious wish that the critic could do half as well?

Fifth, how can a person learn to enjoy music more? Is emotional absorption the answer? Should all music that appeals to us from the neck down be discarded, and all music that appeals from the neck up be sanctioned? Is it wrong to tap your foot to certain types of music?

It is hoped that these questions will stir up thought and perhaps even controversy. Every person, if he has any intelligence at all, wants to better himself in this world. As a Seventh-day Adventist he wants to live the kind of life which will draw him closer to eternal life. Music has been the salvation of many people but it has also hastened the moral collapse of others, es­pecially high school and college-age students.

We hope this series of articles on music will permeate the thinking of many, and will help impress the importance of careful evaluation of your musical choices.

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Melvin Hill, Chairman, Music Department, Union College

July 1966

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