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The Power Of Music/song


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I would love to hear from some of you about an extraordinary phenomena . How is it that music and song evoke such powerful emotions and memories?? I was just listening to a song that my son's girlfriend wrote and performed. It is truly beautiful and about god''s love ... she is a christian but my son no longer is. I couldn't help but cry as a flood of memories came back to me of my past life as a worship leader.  Each time I listen to it I cry more and have even cried out for understanding as to why I am suddenly questioning my turn from 'the faith'. I know it doesn't make logical or rational sense but the 'feel good' times and feeling 'secure in god's love' definitely came back to me. Yeh, I'm really struggling with this right now.

On the other hand I also see a huge contradiction on the teaching of god's love. The whole 'hell doctrine' for instance.

 

 
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I can relate.  Once I started getting a certain hymn replaying in my head.  I started to get what I would call sentimental. I actually started thinking I should go back to church! It was very powerful. This was about a year ago. After about a week it went away and I could not imagine how I would ever think going back into Christianity was a good idea.

 

We cannot totally wipe the past out.  Every now and then it resurfaces. The memories of something that was such a part of your life, like religion, don't entirely go away.  This is not intellectual, but almost purely emotional.  It can be very powerful. One thing for me is that life seemed simpler when I was younger. It was sometimes better than now.

 

I just recognize it for what it is and move on with what I know is right for me now.

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We are emotional beings. It's part of what ties us together, bringing about the community that makes us a successful species.

 

I still go to church, and found myself choked up a bit over an emotional song a couple of weeks ago. The music itself would sometimes tug at our emotions even without words, and so it isn't unexpected that the music can lend some realism to the words, even if they're about something that doesn't exist.

 

Add to that your memories, and you have a recipe for being drawn back in.

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Music is an emotional art. I am a musician and I write songs regularly. When I am blue, I write songs that reflect that. When I am happy, I write happy songs. In the context of church, emotional songs take an already emotional thing and elevate it when others join in the fray. This group context makes it more emotional. I would compare it to being in a group therapy setting. Simple topics that might not evoke any particular emotion can exhibit an emotional response among group members in a group therapy session. It is an incredibly powerful thing to experience. Music somehow evokes emotion much more naturally, and given the context of multiple people in a room who are opening up to being vulnerable and emotional, it creates a very strong experience. Music and lyrics have a way of connecting within a person. We can express ourselves in a more fluid way through music and that is another thing that makes it powerful and emotional.  Even though I have basically ruled out god in my life, I still feel the powerful emotions in our worship time at my church. I realize that it is a product of vulnerability and the connectedness of the human experience, and not god. I think personally, that it is good to experience the emotion of music, even in church. Just remember that it is the human experience, and not god, that you are feeling.

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I still love Christmas music and I'm agnostic. There's something bittersweet to me about the sentiments expressed now. Let there be peace on earth. O come, all ye faithful. There are some powerful ideas in there.

 

My flip-side experience was that I used to feel guilty when I was a teen for being more emotionally moved by secular music, to the point of tears and chills, than I was by any hymn. But certain things, be it a combination of words, or certain notes or chord progressions, affect our brains. We respond. That's because we're human, not because we are fundamentally good/evil/saved/cursed. 

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My wife and I went to a singing school once. It was described as "summer camp for grownups". Both of our sons and my brother and his wife and kids had been a number of times before. We stayed in the dorms at a small college. During the day I took what were supposed to be sight-singing classes, though there was very little instruction. In the evening everyone gathered in the auditorium and those in the song leading classes would practice leading the assembly. It was fast paced, tiring, and extremely emotional. Can you imagine singing hymns and praise songs day and night for a week?

 

We left a day early because we were exhausted, and because my wife just wasn't sleeping. (And she still isn't sleeping!) But on the drive home at one point we actually said something about "next year". Next year!? It draws you in! We never went back, and I really lost my interest in singing, and especially leading singing after that. There's no way I considered the result of that week a "good tired".

 

It was supposed to be wonderful, but I think it was a lot like unintentional self-inflicted cult indoctrination. I personally hated feeling that way.

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I remember also the euphoria of corporate singing when the charismatic movement swept north america, esp the more traditional type churches like anglican/catholic.  I was young - around 12, and I remember everyone would just start up in one big chorus of 'singing in tongues' ... it was rather beautiful and inevitably someone would speak out 'prophetically' but I can so understand that it was not a supernatural event now but just human emotions connecting in a corporate setting.

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In addition to songs causing memories to surface, certain chord progressions can pack quite an emotional punch.  This is especially true if they come as a surprise variation near the end of a song.

 

For instance, it's common for a song to end on a IV-V-I progression (e.g., F to G to C).  However, if you insert something like IV-V-vi-II in its place (F, G, A minor, D major) and then finish normally with IV-V-I, it increases the impact.  It's all about building up tension, then releasing it at specific points in the song... And, if you want to be particularly crafty about it, arranging the song so that the greatest tension/release coincides with the punchline of the lyrics.

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In addition to songs causing memories to surface, certain chord progressions can pack quite an emotional punch.  This is especially true if they come as a surprise variation near the end of a song.

 

For instance, it's common for a song to end on a IV-V-I progression (e.g., F to G to C).  However, if you insert something like IV-V-vi-II in its place (F, G, A minor, D major) and then finish normally with IV-V-I, it increases the impact.  It's all about building up tension, then releasing it at specific points in the song... And, if you want to be particularly crafty about it, arranging the song so that the greatest tension/release coincides with the punchline of the lyrics.

I would also add that using 2nds and suspended chords adds to the mix as well. I find that when I play, adding these adjustments improves the quality of the song. I see it a lot on Song Select Chord sheets.

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I wonder if you could write new hymns using chord progressions in such a way as to cause people to doubt the words they're singing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Music is powerful.  I sometimes catch myself enjoying an old Christian song in my head.  Though there's times I tell myself, that's not a part of my world anymore, there's other times when I just enjoy it for enjoyment's sake and not dwell on the ridiculousness of the words.

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I wonder if you could write new hymns using chord progressions in such a way as to cause people to doubt the words they're singing.

 

Easily done:  Don't resolve cadences and suspensions and other tension-creating devices.  Just leave them hanging at the end of phrases and at the end of the song.  (Mind you, such a song probably wouldn't be all that popular and would be forgotten in short order.)

 

Alternatively, what about resolving chords but on specific phrases that express doubts, such as "still looking for an answer"?

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Any of you get chills when you listen to music?

It's caused by a rush of the neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain. 

So all those times in church when I would get chills at the building chorus? Yup. It was dopamine. Not God moving.

And dopamine makes you want more. It's rewarding and so you crave more stimulation to get more dopamine.

 

As for the memories, it is the associations you have made between music and emotions or experiences that are triggered when you hear the music. Our brains are extremely powerful at associating things and will do it whether we actively seek to make an association or not. 

 

Don't feel bad about the emotions and memories coming back. I know this happens to a lot of people. There are some good feelings that Christianity brings and I know that I can miss them from time to time. How bad is it to want to feel that someone loves you no matter what and will always be there for you, especially when you have had an awful day? That is a very positive aspect of Christianity and probably one reason for its popularity. Love is a powerful thing. We crave to be loved as humans. 

 

Just stick with what you deeply feel is right. What makes you happiest. It is most important to be true to yourself.

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I wouldn't atttach anything supernatural to this emotion.

 

I am the same way about Christmas music.  I've come to hate it.

 

I had a traumatic Christmas one year as a child.  Since then, everytime I hear Christmas music, no matter which song, no matter what time of year, I have to choke back tears.  (And that's if I'm lucky, sometimes I can't stop the tears.)

 

I can't even go shopping during Christmas because of the music the stores pump in.

 

I have no problem with Christmas trees, Christmas dinner, decorations or presents, it's the music that disturbs me.  I don't think it means I am supposed to start suddenly believing in Santa Claus again, though.

 

 

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It's not supernatural, I'm sure. But Christmas music is some of the best music ever created, in my opinion. There's a lot of other good music, too. Beethoven's 5th is one of my favorites. Classical music and even some popular music can have a "religious" effect on me. 
Think of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters", But I've decided to appreciate Christmas music and allow it to flow through me just I did as a Xtian. It is mankind's genius that created it and I'm  not going to give it up. It has nothing to do with the myth that is Xtianity.

 

                                                                                                                                                                               bill

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Yeah, music does weird things to the human mind.  Half the horror movies I watch, it's almost scarier because of the music. It gets your heart kind or racing and you feel tension. Music is a really cool thing but it does have a weird affect on people. 

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