Sproul on the Arts Report #4
R. C. Sproul: Recovering the Beauty of the Arts
“The Influence of Music”
In our adult Sunday school class, we are watching a series of lectures by R. C. Sproul on the Christian and the arts. I'm summarizing them and writing my responses. Here is an index to these posts. Today's post is a summary.
Sproul started out by talking in a general sense about the fact that music has a strong impact on our moods and behaviors. He said he has been often very moved, in an almost mystical way, by the mysterious power of music. Then he said he wanted to apply the “Classical, objective” principles—proportion, harmony, simplicity, and complexity—to music.
Then he went off on a discussion about pitch, talking about people who have perfect pitch (he claimed it's not natural, that it's developed). Then he mentioned Plato, who was very concerned about the power that music had to influence how people act. He said that music creates social interactions. He talked about dance rhythms, and about the story in the OT when David's harp-playing soothed King Saul. He said there are cases when animals and even plants have shown a response to music.
Then he shifted to talking more specifically about the negative influence of music. He told the story of two murders, young men who killed their parents. Each of these killers said that he was addicted to porn and involved in satanism, and that he had started down that road by listening to heavy metal music. Sproul also said that “rap celebrates violence and unrestrained sexuality.”
Then Sproul went on to distinguish between “music” and “noise,” saying that music is much more sophisticated. He talked about the four elements of music: MELODY, HARMONY, RHYTHM, and TIMBRE. He finished by getting a bit technical, talking some music theory to explain some elements of Western harmony and the progressive harmonies of jazz.