“Music holds the secret
To know it can make you whole
It’s not just a game of notes
It’s the sounds inside your soul
Magic of the melody
Runs through you like a stream
The notes that play flow through your head
Like a dream, like a dream
I sing this song for the common man
For the people in despair
I bring my song into the world
And I sing it everywhere
The simple truth lies waitin’ here
For everyone to share
So hold on, and I will take you there
Hold on and I will take you there”
LEVINE, MIKE / MOORE, GIL / EMMETT, RIK
If you don’t play music but have seen a piece of sheet music, you may look at it quite strangely. There are circles, some of them filled. Some have sticks attached to them. There are Dots. There are letters, such as “p”, “pp”, “mp”, “f”, “ff”. There are greater-than signs, less-than signs…and some of them stretch the width of the page. There are colons with thick vertical lines. Fractions, and other funky symbols such as the Treble Clef and Bass Clef. There are even written instructions at times. To the untrained eyes it all looks so confusing. But to the trained eyes, they are the keys to understanding music in its concrete, mechanical form. Every piece of music can be broken down to this concrete format.
And yet, when played just as it is written, following all the directions of all that strange language, there is still an element to music that is missing…that can’t be “written”. It is the human spirit or soul that is needed to make the piece complete. My job as a musician is to know intellectually, to the best of my ability, the mechanical or concrete aspects of a piece so that when playing it, I can forget about “reading” the notation and start “feeling” the music in my soul. This is why musicians rehearse for many hours. They want to know the piece so well that it comes out of them without even thinking.
It is at that point the music has the ability to move others. This is extremely important to those of us who play religious music in a worship setting. Our job is to aid the congregation into a deeper communion with God through word and melody. I’m sure you can attest to this if you really think about music that has moved you verses music that hasn’t. You can tell when I musician is just “going through the motions” in a piece. You don’t feel moved by just concrete, mechanical playing. It can become a hindrance to worship. On days when I’m ill prepared with the concrete aspects of the music, I spend most of my time not letting my soul come through my playing, but rather just trying to play the piece mechanically right, so as to not become a hindrance to what is going on in the sanctuary.
Now interestingly, this whole idea of “concrete” vs. “spirit/soul/emotions” as it relates to the music world is also found when considering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For instance, I as a preacher of the Gospel could stand up and rather clinically just give out the facts of the Gospel. God created man in His image to reflect God’s glory. Man sinned and thus fell from a right standing with God. God, being just, will pour out His wrath on man for his disobedience. God being gracious and merciful sacrificed His Son Jesus on the cross to be a substitute and bear our wrath. By believing and putting our faith in His Son, man can be restored to fellowship with God and live eternally with Him. That’s the concrete, mechanical facts.
But here’s the thing, unless God puts that into the heart, with His Spirit, and moves the spirit of man to have a true moving of the heart, mind, and body…well, then the Gospel is nothing more than just an intellectual, mechanical set of instructions, looked upon in the same way those who do not understand musical notation. Gibberish.
My friend, if the Gospel does not move you, please I beg of you, ask God to move your heart by placing His Spirit in you and giving you a heart to respond to Him, so that you too can express from the depths of your soul the new song He will give you.
Psalm 43:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Ed Guzaitis is the worship drummer at Birdville Baptist Church in Haltom City, TX.