Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Music: a Confession

Okay, I'm one of the first to complain about chinga-chinga choirs (sorry, contemporary choirs) and their "liturgical" music. Frankly, I see most of these choirs as excuses for people to either perform in a nonprofessional environment or for people who don't really play all that well to get up there with their guitar (or string bass, autoharp, or zither) and strum the same annoying pattern.

No really, it's universal, just like Darwin's song (ching a-ching a-chinga, ching a-ching a-chinga).

I know that sounds really uncharitable, and I sometimes feel a twinge of guilt for feeling that way, but as a former music student and professional musician, these choirs grate on me. But I also think that the job of a cantor is to serve, not to perform, and that's how I see these contemporary choirs—as performers.

I love chant and other more traditional liturgical music. I frequently substitute as a reader or singer for the Renaissance chancel choir that my dad sponsors (mostly for Vespers or Compline services), and I must confess that I sometimes sing parts during congregational singing at Mass, even though I'm not in the choir. By the way, we should be having Compline tomorrow evening and on 1/25. If your in the Boise area, come on down to St. John's at 6:00 PM.

So where's the confession (other than that I'm a music snob)?

I love alternative Christian rock, and I love to play alternative and hard rock. I played in nightclub acts for a number of years, and I just love the energy. I'd love even more to put that energy to good use for Christ.

Mind you, as much as I love to rock out, I do NOT think this music belongs in the liturgy. I think it's appalling when music liturgists turn Mass or any other service into a performance. Liturgical music should be about worship, not performance. And there's plenty of room outside of Mass or Liturgy of the Hours for these other styles.

I'm hoping this new project I'm working on will give me an outlet for some of that energy.

Anyway, I've been listening to a new band, Gretchen, out of Tennesee. They describe themselves as "Heavy-Melodic-Happy-Gothic-Chic-Rock." Mia Richards, the lead singer and bass player, reminds me of the singer for the Canadian band, the Headpins. I'm also a big Skillet fan (or panhead as Skillet fans are apparently called). And I can't leave out Kutless. They come through Boise regularly. Plumb is also a regular on my playlist.

I also like some of the more mainstream Christian rock acts like Building 429, Casting Crowns, Lifehouse, and Switchfoot.

I'm not into hiphop, but I know of at least one Catholic hip-hop group that's getting some exposure (Point 5 Covenant). I also have to put in a plug for Phatmass Phorum. I try to stay away from message boards these days, but I did like the spirit of the people on this board. It's an interesting blend of orthodox Catholics and hip-hop.
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