At the risk of sounding blunt, rock music is bad. There is no denying that the lyrics to rock songs are often terribly immoral, but even the music itself is bad. Immoral lyrics are not always required to make a song unworthy of our affinity.
Music is composed of melody, harmony, timbre, and rhythm–in that hierarchical order. Melody is the highest element of music because it is the most intellectual. Rhythm is the lowest element of music because it is the most carnal. Rock music inverts the hierarchy of good music by placing rhythm first as its most central element, and it almost entirely does away with melody. In place of harmony, rock music gives us dissonance. In place of timbre, it gives us distortion. In fact, it could be said that much rock music should not even be classified as music due to its heavy use of the distortion pedal. Rock music would be more appropriately termed as a collection of sound effects.
True music is a very good thing because it can bring man closer to God by reflecting His beauty. Rock music is a very bad thing because it appeals to the lowest, carnal aspects of man, and it insults true music by inverting the hierarchical order of composition.
So don’t listen to it.
10 thoughts on “Rock Music”
I used to be into the rock scene. I even played bass in a couple death metal bands. I’ll leave aside all the immorality attached to the scene for this comment, and focus on the music itself.
What you say about the hierarchy of music is completely right, and rock, particularly metal, certainly inverts the proper hierarchy. In death metal, melody is even almost completely done away with; the vocalists in both of the bands I played in couldn’t carry a tune, but they just growled the words. The feeling of the song is thus carried by rhythm until the guitar solo. The solo is the most memorable part of the song, and it is usually everyone’s favorite part. That’s because it is the only part of the song that is melodic; it is the one part to which our ears are naturally inclined. Everyone knows, though, that you can’t make a song that is all guitar solo; that would be boring. Rock melodies just aren’t that interesting, so in order to catch the ear, it has to be sandwiched between several minutes of sonic torture. That way the solo comes as a relief.
When metal lyrics are free from violence and sex, they invariably carry a mystical bent that is incompatible with Christianity. The principle at work here is exactly the same. There is a mystical hierarchy. When the soul first converts and enters the state of sanctifying grace, she is on the purgative way; the higher illuminative and unitive ways await her cooperation with God’s grace. But consider the following lyrics from the song “Parabol/Parabola” by the band Tool. N.B., the title of the song is an allusion to the Rosicrucian “Parabola Allegory.”
We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
Choosing to be here right now
Hold on, stay inside
This holy reality, this holy experience
Choosing to be here in
This body. This body holding me. Be my reminder here that I am not alone in
This body. This body holding me. Feeling eternal
All this pain is an illusion
The vocalist is using quasi-mystical language to glorify the temporal aspect of human existence: consciousness, the now, the mutable body. He suggests that there can be a feeling of eternity, that it is an object of the senses rather than the intellect. And he explicitly professes Cartesian dualism — “this body holding me,” that which he glorifes, is a vessel for his ego. Rather than purge the soul of its evil tendencies by mortifying the body, he denies the reality of pain, mortifying the intellect (that is, forcing it to obey his will) for the body’s sake.
The effect that this kind of music has on the soul is to drag it down from contact with spiritual and intellectual things into carnal matters. It does this with rhythm and distortion as well as the precise meaning given to the music by the words. But many worldly folk are grateful to “stoner metal” bands such as Tool for opening their minds to the unseen world. They lack a solid foundation in first principles, neither as revealed by God nor as discovered by human reason; thus they cannot see that the mysticism into which they are being drawn is a deception.
Unfortunately, it seems that many individuals whose mystical tendencies would lead them to become great saints are in this age rather trapped and absorbed into such deceptive vanities. I think it is well to pray for them; I know that someone must have been praying for me, since I eventually obtained the grace of conversion.
This is fantastic, Daniel. Thank you for these fascinating truths. I would love to sometime hear the story of how your conversion came about.
Death Metal? No good. Rap? LOL, any fool can rap, this ain’t music. Some Grunge and Punk was good. The rest of Rock and Pop tradition? Mostly great. Nothing wrong with getting in touch with one’s primal nature.
Okay I have to disagree with you just a little bit. Sure there are some rock bands, metal bands, punk bands, etc. that can’t carry a tune, throw melody out the window, and all that jazz, but you have to admit that there are some bands that can and have produced excellent classic rock songs. For example, the band Kansas. Dust In The Wind is one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard and it incorporates even the use of the violin, and tastefully at that! And then there’s Toto with their incredible love ballads and Rosanna, one of their hits from the 1982 album Toto IV. There are many others, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Boston, and of course Journey! Not all rock music is trash!!
Eh, maybe a few songs are okay. But this kind of reminds me of something that happened in our fridge a while ago. We let a small tub of strawberries sit in there too long, and mold starting growing on some of the strawberries. Instead of examining each individual strawberry, I just threw the whole tub in the trash. Rock music is a lot like that tub of moldy strawberries.
I am a Christian who loves rock. Not the real hard core stuff obvs 🙂
Why do you love rock?
It is artistic genius, God given talent. Joyous, enthralling, fun, uplifting. No-one should be told not to listen to it. There is a place for both hymns and rock. Put on some Tom Petty and chill.
If I may — I think reading the impure lyrics to “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” will give one reason enough NOT to put on Tom Petty. Why should anyone expose themselves to that kind of mental imagery?
Rock Music really is not artistic genius. It is ham-fisted and repetitive. It can certainly be very *pleasing* to listen to, but next time you listen to one of your favorite songs, pay careful attention to the kinds of thoughs and feelings it excites within you. Of course I understand when you say that you like rock, but it is important to ask why we like the things that we do. Just because something makes you feel good doesn’t make it healthy or right.
My contention is that rock is like a drug. It can feel very gratifying to listen to, but that gratification is a shallow, instant reward. It doesn’t require much of an attention span at all. When people get accustomed to rock music, they lose the patience and nuance required to appreciate classical music. And the repetivie rhythms of rock put you in a passive frame of mind where you can even lose awareness of the meaning of the words you’re listening and moving along to.
From the perspective of a trained musician, as I have already explained, it’s incredibly easy to compose rock music. There is no real artistic genius in the genre. The most talented rock musicians, who people often revere on a level bordering on worship, are just a little bit better than the ordinary garbage we are all used to hearing. That doesn’t make them geniuses. Speaking for myself, I am a below average pianist, but on stage I absolutely shined. Our band won Battle of the Bands and was offered a record deal, and I heard a lot of gushing compliments from a lot of different people including other professional musicians. I knew it was flattery though, because of my classical background.
We are not like Muslims who are commanded by law to listen only to religious music; but when we do listen to secular music, I am firmly convinced that we ought to prefer things that lift our minds and spirits to contemplate higher things rather than excite the base passions, where we risk letting them go out of control and offending God thereby.
^ Beautiful, Daniel.