Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Music: Under the Influence…

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and everything. - Plato

Music can change the world because it can change people. - Bono

Music is influential. Its subliminal messages can affect the listener one way or the other - depending on what he or she is listening to.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, music is, among other things, "vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony."

Hughon Goldsmith, a Seventh-day Adventist medical missionary and one who spends time giving lectures on how influential music is, gave Family and Religion some insights on the topic.

According to him, music is so powerful that not only does it have an impact on the person and his or her mood, but it can be an indication of the person's eating preferences.

According to Dr Norman Weinberger, professor of Neurobiology and Behaviour at UC Irvine, "Music can rapidly and powerfully set moods and do so in a way not easily attained by other means."

Goldsmith said music can affect even the hormones that are secreted in your body.

"The heavy beats and driving rhythm, the mind secretes sexual hormones that give you a nice almost satisfying feeling," he said, suggesting that the reason most times the dancing that accompanies those pulsating beats are whining and gyrating - the dances being sexual in nature.

Pointing out that there are exceptions to every rule, Goldsmith stressed that music without the words (instrumental) is powerful, so with the words, it can be even more impactful.

"When music is formulated, it carries with it the culture, mindset, and value of the composer," he said.

For Goldsmith, even the dancehall dress code suggests how music has been influencing listeners.

children exposed to dangers

He believes parents who leave their children exposed to all types of music without monitoring what is on the devices are leaving them exposed to certain dangers.

Reggae dancehall artistes embracing Christ as their Saviour, have now opted to record what is termed 'reggae gospel' or 'dancehall gospel'.

But for Goldsmith, if the purpose of these songs is just to "blend people in", it is okay.

If the songs, however, are meant to maintain a Christian life ... then they won't work.

"Someone who is out there in the world that listens to reggae dancehall, when they come over (get converted), some things will not change. You will exchange the lighter for the handkerchief and then you will find a Christian version of the world's dance," he said, quoting Ephesians 4:22-24: "That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man ... . And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

He explained that there is not a full conversion, just a partial one, and so these songs will have the same impact that the rhythm has on those in the world. For him, the songs are just 'Christianised'.

He continues: "The songs point you to the rhythms rather than the lyrics, just like in the secular world, where it allows you to pay attention to the rhythm instead of lyrics," he said.

When it comes to Christians choosing their songs (proving what is acceptable unto the Lord." Eph 5:10), Goldsmith suggested they should choose carefully. Opting for songs that do not have a lot of 'syncopated beats,' i.e. several rhythms playing at the same time.

According to the medical missionary, a sure way to tell that you are on the right track with music is opting for those which are simply composed.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com