What are congregants really doing when they complain about church music?

In the churches of which I have been a part – the Protestant, free-church, evangelical variety with little formal liturgy – form is often treated as irrelevant. This attitude typically appears when someone has a complaint related to music, and the approach that leadership takes to such complaints is often to simply suggest that they should not be made at all. What matters is doctrine and beyond doctrine what matters is relationship, community, and unity. Issues of form are matters of preference only and are therefore debates into which only the “immature” enter. Arguments over form are not arguments over doctrine and are therefore mere threats to unity. We should therefore strive not to critique or enter into conversations about form at all. Certainly not everyone feels this way and I don’t know that everyone who gets frustrated with such arguments would express it in this way, but I frequently hear a variation of “there are more important things to talk about” in response to such critiques. Continue reading “What are congregants really doing when they complain about church music?”


The Drummer is the Mother

I have been reading a book by Ingrid Monson from 1996, called Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction, which approaches the nature of improvisation from the perspective of musicians from the rhythm section. The book performs the helpful function for me of bridging the gap between the role of rhythm in carefully composed art-objects and the role of rhythm in casual conversation. Rhythm in jazz improvisation exhibits characteristics of both activities and helps me to demonstrate the commonalities from one end of this spectrum of choreographed-casual to the other.

However, there was another, unrelated moment in the book that I found to be significant. Monson relates a quote by Michael Carvin, who likens the drummer or the drum to a mother: Continue reading “The Drummer is the Mother”