What is music?
How do we define music? Is it the art and science of organized sound, as my freshman-year theory textbook said? No – it is more. It is true that art resists definition, so the college definition can skate by under that ambiguity; yet great art possesses character, and we know either by education or intuition when we are in its presence.
Great Art is Shared
Great art and great music have this in common: they are shared. We cannot truly say that we make music unless someone hears us. It is relational.
You may say jokingly, “nobody should be around me when I practice”; or you may say, “I play for myself”. But the instant sound is made, it is liberated from your control. This is the instant in which you can no longer control the vibrating string, the traveling sound-wave. Until then it is inside you, incomplete, without full expression. You may say, again: it is all I want from it. But you have become your own listener – and you are not alone, ever.
This may seem like playing with words, an exercise in semantics. From personal experience I can attest that it is not playing with words.
Music, God, Love and Life
Here is why: there have been years in my life when I didn’t believe in God, and if I didn’t make music for days or weeks or even months, when I finally “came home” and played the piano – whether or not I believed in God, I shared music. If it didn’t come out I was not complete. At such times it would come pouring out as though it had been dammed and released.
The ultimate expression of music is love. God is love. He always listens. Music is always about sharing; it is always about a relationship to something greater than ourselves. We express ourselves through it – to that something. Until we do, we shut ourselves off from that special magic of the moment. When we do express ourselves as we are able – that is life. We reach out and touch God.
Music and sharing
Sharing makes us noble. When we are beginners, we practice alone. We get nervous, struggling with fears that we are going to get everything wrong. We may doubt our teachers. We may come to the conclusion that music just isn’t for us, that we aren’t meant to perform. Then we turn around and go to a birthday party and sing “Happy Birthday” with a crowd of friends; or we go to a football game and do the “wave”; or we may go church and pray the Lord’s Prayer with everyone inside the sanctuary. We easily take part in something similar to music – we pitch our voices a certain way that is common and yet our own, we pace our singing or recitation of an ancient prayer so that it matches the pace of those around us. We begin at about the same time, and we end at about the same time. We use the same words without thinking twice about it. If anyone judges us, we remain unaware of it. We sing, wave or pray together without a second thought.
Music is shared aural beauty, an outgrowth of shared love. It is bone deep in our psyches and cannot be entirely eliminated, even among those who are tone-deaf. It is not only about specific pitches, it is about pacing and matching and joining – a little like good cabinetry or simple carpentry.
Music and AdorationSong
Sharing is what this website is about. It contrasts with most of the offerings on the internet because it allows you forget yourself and share with others what is truly life-giving. We listen, we match, we join others in following, and we are made more noble as we ennoble the project a little bit with our offering. Ultimately we show our love for each other, for ourselves, and for God. Through these shared prayers and music we truly offer our adoration. That is why I called it “AdorationSong.”