The Power of Music (Part 3)

Inevitably the question of skill vs passion comes up in the arena of music. It is possible to get Doctorates in music. It is possible to go to Juliard, to become a professional classical musician playing in orchestras around the world.

Such musicians are incredibly skilled, trained to play even the toughest of compositions. Yet few are able to go “off the page.” They are trained specifically to read music and to read it fast and accurately, playing whatever is required on the sheet. If asked to ad lib or create something not in front of them, many literally have no idea what to do. They are skilled musicians, not songwriters or improvisational jazz musicians. One is not necessarily better than the other, but very different. Some skilled musicians can write, and some improvers are very skilled musicians, but there is something about music beyond the skills needed to perform it, something almost sacred (especially in writing it), that employs a different set of things altogether.

In other words the power of music is more than the talent of its parts. Writing a classic song that gets through all the hoops and into the consciousness of a generation is not reserved for the elite, the veterans, the ones established in the business. Providence is the great equalizer. No one has the market on hit-making. Certainly there are those with great advantages, those for whom ideas are more readily heard and distributed. Still, there is an inevitability with a great song.

It’s like a melody that won’t get out of your head (or it is). There is a persistence to it. It wants to be heard. It longs to be celebrated. The pen through whom such a song is given is clearly gifted, given just randomly enough that we can not break the code. There is no code. Only Spirit. Spirit prevails. The Spirit brings life, inspiration, hope. The Spirit brings songs (“songs of the Spirit,” Eph 5.19). The Spirit is essentially the Author of such songs. He alone is to get the praise in the end. Now many a song in today’s world that gets stuck in the head the Spirit certainly would not take credit for. There are many ways to circumvent the system. If we are being honest, we discover the tilted reality that few people are making the hits.

Do they have some magical gift? Perhaps, but even though there is no code there is a formula. Some have learned the formula and manipulated the system. Though not for long, without traces of the magic. People can not be fooled for long. There may be something instantly accessible and interesting about certain songs that fail to capture our imagination. Usually the lyrical content has a great deal to do with the staying power of a song. Are there layers of meaning or are there not?

Music has such potential being one of the few art forms with more than one medium. Music has both the medium of sound itself (which alone is powerful enough) and words (which again by itself can be enough). The two together done well is magic.