March 18, 2014

Brendan Liturgy Part XIV

“Is Heaven’s music real to me? Causing my spirit to be stirred and to put off it’s weariness?”

I’ve never felt fully comfortable calling myself a musician [Insert any number of drummer jokes here] but not just because of my limited instrumentation ( I sing a little bit too). It’s not just because I don’t write music (it has always seemed to me that, properly speaking, a “musician” is one who creates music and doesn’t simply reproduce other people’s music…which is mostly what I do) and it’s not because I’m un-skilled at my instrument (I think I can hold my own with just about any rock drummer out there…I’m not the best…but by no means the worst).

No, it has to do with where and how deeply music touches me. The truth is, it rarely gets at the center of my soul like I think it must for “real” musicians. Its not that I don’t love it.  I do. It’s not that I’m unmoved (Oh my, listen to the bridge in “Beautiful Things” by Gungor or a good rendition of Pachabel’s “Cannon in D” and try NOT to be moved!) It’s more like – the music is simply pointing AT something else that I’m really longing for and can’t get to. I have always seen music (all art, really) as purely metaphor for something else. While not purely metaphorical, I see the act of sex similarly – it’s representative of something much deeper, something just beyond reach.

Music is a window. It is corporeal. Real. Tangible. It has mass. But it’s purpose, it’s very REASON is to allow one to see beyond it; through it to something else. Same with sex. Same with a great story, painting or dance. I think we too often stop at evaluating the window and missing what lies beyond it. As a “musician” I could spend all my time meticulously cleaning the window, examining it for any spots, repairing cracks in the frame, re-painting the sills and mullions…and entirely miss the breathtaking spectacle occurring just on the other side of it; the very thing it was meant to reveal.

Music only draws me to the presence of God when I can “hear through it”, and for me actually performing on my instrument is the best way to do that. Truth is, sitting in a church service and listening to other musicians make the music is usually too distracting. I don’t care for it. There are certainly times when I find my way beyond the window – but they are the exception, not the rule.

Style means very little to me. I can either see through a piece or I can not; “sacred”, classical, pop, rap, folk, country, whatever, I’m either aware of all the water spots and streaks in the glass or I’m not. And lest you take this part of the “window metaphor” to mean that I can only be distracted by poorly performed music, let me say I am just as often distracted by how perfectly CLEAN and well maintained the window is…sometimes (ok, a LOT of times) I’m even jealous. But again – it doesn’t mater WHY I’m not looking through the window – it’s the fact that I am not.

Like Brendan – I have my own version of ear plugs. I simply don’t listen to music for pleasure that often. I have friends who live with a nearly constant sound track playing behind their lives. Certainly more and more people live this way – ear buds firmly tucked into their heads as they go about their daily activities…

see my previous entry here:

I’m not criticizing them – I just hope the windows are clean.

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