My Purpose with The Jesus Beat.

The Purpose of this blog? It's simple, to give you the tools to decide what is good Christian Music and what isn't. If you have the tools to know what makes good music, then you will also have the tools to see what music isn't high quality. What prompted me to make this blog? I had a debate regarding what Christian Rock is musically sound, and what isn't with one of my relatives.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Characteristics of Rock

Rock, is normally associated with headbanging music, loud drums, heavy bass, blaring electric guitar, and screaming vocalists.
What is Rock though? I'll start by telling you what the popular rock groups have in common. For one thing, most of them have a similar look: crazy hairdos, dark clothing, earrings, tattoos, the works.

As far as music characteristics go, most of them have the same underlying style of rock that's popular. It includes repetitive bass line, main guitar following the vocals, a very repetitive background guitar, and chaotic drums. Is that type of music quality music? No, not at all. If the vocals and the instruments are all doing the same thing, it's so simple it's chaotic. Right now you're probably thinking "Whaaa? How is that possible??" I'll give you an example: take all the people in New York City, and have them try to walk in the same direction in the streets. Sure, they'll all go the same direction, but it will be very chaotic. You'll have pushing, shoving, people stopping, it just happens. That's how a lot of the rock groups do things.

On the other hand, you have the groups that try having their vocals, drums, guitar, and bass doing different things. That gets chaotic as well. Take all the people in New York City, and have 25% of them walk North, 25% walk south, 25% walk east, and the other 25% walk west. There's so much going on that it gets to be very chaotic.

Does this mean all Rock music is Chaotic? Absolutely not, there are some very good quality rock songs out there, a prime example is "Need" by Kutless. The vocals are backed by the instruments, but here's where it get's tricky: the vocals and the accompanying music aren't doing the same thing. Wait, didn't we just say that too much going on gets chaotic? Yes, we did, however, in this particular song the instruments are backing the vocals by using a little bit of melody, but mostly it is using harmony to back the song.

So what about Christian Rock? Should they have tattoos, earrings, and wacked out hairdos?
"Mat 5:13  "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
Mat 5:14  "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat 5:15  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

No, they shouldn't, but should that stop us from  listening to them? I don't believe so, but I'll leave that decision up to you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What makes something musically sound? Part 1.

I've had several discussions about what makes the music itself, good music. What does make it good? Consonance is often equated with quality music, but is dissonance bad? No, not at all. Can it be bad? Of course, everything can be used in the wrong way. 

"In music, a consonance (Latin con-, "with" + sonare, "to sound") is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable (at rest), as opposed to a dissonance (Latin dis-, "apart" + sonare, "to sound"), which is considered unstable (or temporary, transitional). In more general usage, a consonance is a combination of notes that sound pleasant to most people when played at the same time; dissonance is a combination of notes that sound harsh or unpleasant to most people." 

Dissonance is quite often thought to be bad music, but it's not always. Often times by talented musicians and song writers it is used to create an eerie atmosphere, or unsettle the listener. However, when it's not properly used, it tends to create chaos.

So, aside from Dissonance and Consonance, what are other things that can make a song musically sound or not so? Blending, if the different instruments and the voices are either all doing the same thing, or they don't blend well, chances are that song isn't musically sound.

There will be more to come on this subject in a later post.