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Music Dept, March 2022

    03.01.22 | Music | by Matthew Swingle

    Hello Faith Family –

    I am occasionally asked to discuss my inspirations or thought processes for the anthem or hymn selections for any given service – or to put it a tad more succinctly, I am sometimes asked “why in the world did you play that…” To explain, please allow me to be a little “artistic” for this month’s article.

    You may commonly hear that life imitates art. Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once posited that although there has been fog in London for centuries, one notices the beauty and wonder of the fog because "poets and painters have taught the loveliness of such effects...They did not exist till Art had invented them." We recognize that fog, or anything with a similar reality, can potentially obscure, darken, or hinder our sight from what is to come. These entities can have a negative impression in our efforts to appreciate the matters shrouded by those hinderances. We constantly make efforts to hope for the bountiful blessings and fascinations of life, and if we always try to be optimistic, life can be beautiful, right? Well, I must ask the rhetorical question if you recognize that there can be beauty and a sense of aesthetics in that fog and the other obstacles? 

    I like to think that we face the tribulations and adversities of life because it makes our personal delights and firmaments even more meaningful and important. I personally believe there is beauty in the artful things that seem dark or obscure – as we experience and absorb the art as a whole reality, those moments of sunshine, clarity, and resolution make the experiences much more impactful.

    There is a common interpretation of music which states: “stress the dissonance, release the consonance.” This interpretive process will allow the musician to put a great deal of emphasis and weight on dissonant and clashing notes, by playing them louder or longer in time, before moving, or “releasing,” to the later harmonious and pleasing notes. This is a musical process called resolution. The nasty and dissonant chords move to “resolve” into the satisfying and harmonic chords. By putting more emphasis on the dissonant notes, it makes the resolution to the harmonic notes so much sweeter. As musicians, we take these dissonant-to-harmonic moments to almost unbearable lengths – engaging the listener to the point where they may feel physically uncomfortable – before finally releasing and resolving to the subsequent dulcet tones. These moments of musical agony make the instances of musical gratification more wholesomely rewarding.

    These unbearable musical moments that proceed the harmonious ones are filled with aesthetic beauty. Even through the pain and torture of discordant notes, we are reassured that the pure and subliminal notes will come. The dark moments in our music are uniquely beautiful; and the happier moments in our music are also inherently wonderful. Try to not let yourself shy away from those artful experiences which may seem uncomfortable, because you may miss out on some of the greatest musical rewards after the fog has been lifted.


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