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Author Topic: Music In Rituals  (Read 13458 times)
Vyktor
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« Reply #15: June 28, 2008, 03:36:14 pm »

As I mentioned, I also write music.

It's important to me to respect other creators. (Religious value, even!) If I have reason to think that someone would be uncomfortable with their music being used in a Pagan ritual, I think it's up to me to be ethical and not use it. Period, end of statement. There's tons of music out there: it's not like this limits me a whole lot.

I'd certainly hate it if music I wrote ended up in Christian services in a totally different context (and the chant I linked earlier this thread certainly could be: it makes a rather nice salvation chant) And I don't pull the stuff I wrote when I was Catholic (which is a reasonably substantial chunk, including a full setting of the St. Mark's Passion) into my Pagan working: the context is tied up explicitly with the music. Yes, that means there are about 100 pages of music I've written that I can't do anything meaningful with anymore. I figure that's life, and that's okay.

For this reason, I roughly group music into 3 categories (same breakdown as the list I posted in the other current music thread.)

1) People who self-ID as Pagan, who are writing music *for* Pagans.
Chances are, they don't mind the use in ritual context - many even encourage it. But more than that, they know enough about the community that if they *do* care, they can make it clear themselves. If they don't, that's also meaningful information that is pretty reliable. (Naturally, I'd respect a group that said 'Listen all you like, but this piece? We'd rather not have it used outside the ritual context it was designed for')

2) People who write Pagan-friendly music (Lorenna McKennitt is definitely in this group):
I'll often consider using this music in ritual as well - but I tend to be very thoughtful and careful about which pieces, and why. Again, I consider music in ritual to be a tool, like everything else in the ritual space: "I like it" alone is not a good enough reason to include it.

It also depends on usage: I'll use music more readily for meditation background, or while people are creating a token/talisman/whatever because (assuming the music is not explicitly some other religion), the music at that time is not pushing a particular religious POV, but rather encouraging a state of mind.

I am *far* more cautious with music used as part of deity invocations, or power raising, or other cosmology-specific parts of the ritual. In those places, I want to make sure all of the words/structure support the goals in question, and that the musician would be fine with where we're taking that meaning. Neither of these are automatically true for Pagan-created music, but they're more likely to be an issue as you get further away from it.

3) Music I find inspirational or of interest to me as a Pagan, but that comes from other sources.
I don't normally use this in ritual, because the people I'm in ritual with may have *very* different readings of the same music. I don't want to accidentally use something I adore, but they hate with a passion for some reason, or that always makes them think of a particular problematic relationship, or whatever. This likelihood goes up when you start moving into secular music.

There are exceptions: I fully expect to design a ritual around the Wailin' Jenny's "One Voice" one of these days. That said, I know my current covenmate also really likes the song, and for very similar reasons.

I agree with your points - actually why I picked the artists I pick because they all have made references to Pagan beliefs.

But the heart of what I am getting at is that it seems the term "pagan music" seems to alway fall into something celtic or cultural. If I write a song that I identify as Pagan that is full of muffled power chords played at 190 bpm with cookie monster vocals why is that any less Pagan?

Important to note that I am being irritated by cliche's today so thats probably why I am picking on this LOL
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« Reply #16: June 28, 2008, 03:40:33 pm »



For solitary purposes, however, I find myself feeling much more involved through playing my guitar than through singing.  Part of this could simply be that I've never been completely comfortable with my voice (there's nothing wrong with my voice...it's simply been a comfort-issue for me since my Christian days), but I feel that all music has its own magic, and the fact that one is made with your hands (or lungs) versus your vocal chords (AND lungs  Cheesy) doesn't necessarily make one less effective than the other.  I would actually love to see what could come of JUST playing with a group of like-minded musicians...I just don't know any besides another guitarist who lives 6 hours away.  Sad
[/quote]

I think I have to agree with you in all music has its own magic. Back in my christian days the only part of the services that ever really got to me were the ones where you sang. Singing is a talent I feel the god/dess have given me. Also you should try and find  dome musicians in your area (craigslist maybe?) playing with a group is amazing.
So is your playing thanks for the link! Oh and I added you as a friend too Smiley

[/quote]I use music in several ways. I play guitar as a way to get my mind to the best possible place cause whenever I play i get there spiritually and mentally. I also play as almost like an offering/gift to the Gods - kind of like "this is me at my purest and most bare and open"[/quote]

I have always thought of my singing as a way to give back what they have given me. They wouldn't have blessed me with the voice that I have if they didn't want to hear it singing there praises at some point or another. Same goes with other insturments. Why should the god/dess waste their time doling out talents if they are not going to be used for them.

[/quote]There's also the one that always gets me, personally - when I'm playing, I am less coordinated than I am musical, so there's always a back of my mind worrying about if I'll hit the right strings, etc. (Watching people last weekend, this seemed to be a common thing, too.) Once you get *really really really* good at particular pieces, that drops off - but it also seriously limits your musical choices to those you can play that well. With voice, there are still performance issues, and your voice can go off. But there's much less conscious mechanical attention to the process.[/quote]

Maybe it is me but in a solitary setting I don't get those worries. (In fact when I am singing on stage I don't get them that often either) I throw myself into the music 100% so I think music as a spiritual tool for me is almost required. Nothing gets me to the place of worship faster than singing a song.In fact my rituals have started to feel MUCH better the past couple of days that I have been putting musi in them. As for the instruments, again I play a little piano and guitar. If I messed up in my own circle i dont think it would bother me that much it doesn't when I mess up at home. Though i would want to practice it a lot before I did use it in ritual. Also no one says what you play has to be complex if your song consist of d,c,g in the same order everytime you are probably not going to screw up and can feel comfortable with that (although you praise song might come out sounding like sweet home alabama lol )
I think with an instrument it can get you to a higher place than not including it( Althought I do agree you do need to know the piece), even if it was a recording that you played softly in the background of the whole ritual to keep the mood up. Also I think with something like guitar if you just made it up as you went along (you know just playing what you feel) That could prolly help a lot too.
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« Reply #17: June 28, 2008, 03:46:52 pm »

Ok I am also not use to this kind of message board lol None of my quotes went in the little blue boxes Sad how do you guys do that if you are quoting multiple people?!?! and sorry they didnt go blue Sad
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Drinking without being thirsty and making love at any time, Madame, are the only things that distinguish us from other animals.  ~Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, 1784, translated
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« Reply #18: June 28, 2008, 04:02:39 pm »

Ok I am also not use to this kind of message board lol None of my quotes went in the little blue boxes Sad how do you guys do that if you are quoting multiple people?!?! and sorry they didnt go blue Sad

your code looks like this: [/quote] *text* [/quote]

It should look like this:

Code:
[quote] *text* [/quote]

Of course you should use the quote button on the post but for quoting multiple bits of the same post I tend to type it in.
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« Reply #19: June 28, 2008, 05:12:45 pm »

your code looks like this:  *text*

It should look like this:

Code:

Of course you should use the quote button on the post but for quoting multiple bits of the same post I tend to type it in.

Hahaha ok thank you
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“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” - Oscar Wilde

Drinking without being thirsty and making love at any time, Madame, are the only things that distinguish us from other animals.  ~Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, 1784, translated
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« Reply #20: June 29, 2008, 03:33:15 am »

But the heart of what I am getting at is that it seems the term "pagan music" seems to alway fall into something celtic or cultural. If I write a song that I identify as Pagan that is full of muffled power chords played at 190 bpm with cookie monster vocals why is that any less Pagan?

It isn't. Still Pagan music in that case.

It's just that some people may be less likely to pick it up, because it's not a music style that moves them. Same as pretty much every other music style out there. *grin*.

And because it's outside what people expect, some additional education/awareness/etc. might be necessary, in the sense that some of the more common linkages aren't present because it's a pretty small subgenre still (i.e. people who like, say, Gaia Consort, will quite often also like Emerald Rose as they're more or less the same genre - other styles of music may not yet have that same kind of synergy/cross-over between groups that helps build audience as quickly.)
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« Reply #21: June 29, 2008, 10:36:53 am »

It isn't. Still Pagan music in that case.

It's just that some people may be less likely to pick it up, because it's not a music style that moves them. Same as pretty much every other music style out there. *grin*.

And because it's outside what people expect, some additional education/awareness/etc. might be necessary, in the sense that some of the more common linkages aren't present because it's a pretty small subgenre still (i.e. people who like, say, Gaia Consort, will quite often also like Emerald Rose as they're more or less the same genre - other styles of music may not yet have that same kind of synergy/cross-over between groups that helps build audience as quickly.)

Well then dimmit, I shall have to make some and educate  Wink Grin
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« Reply #22: June 29, 2008, 01:18:28 pm »

snip

Several years ago, a new student came to the group I trained with (and was actively involved with)- and had some not-good experiences with someone who was a teacher in the group. After the dust settled, and he was asked to leave the group, she asked about two of the deity chants we were using.

Turns out that this person had re-written the words to two Christian evangelical tunes, and passed them off as his own music (substituting our deity names, in other words, in for 'Christ' or 'Jesus'.) We hadn't noticed because no one else had a background in evangelical music (I had a heavy one in Catholic music, but these were different songs.) We of course immediately pullled them from use, and a couple of months later replaced them with chants I'd written for the purpose, but it left me with a *very* bitter taste in my mouth.

snip

What's wrong with changing some of the lyrics in a song that moves you to match your purpose?  Okay, what he did in trying to pass off another song as his own was wrong, but if the tune itself is moving to you and you write your own lyrics to match it, is it still wrong?
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« Reply #23: June 29, 2008, 01:21:03 pm »

Well then dimmit, I shall have to make some and educate  Wink Grin

dude, if you're about to start writing Pagan music, I AM going to have to kidnap you and make you a FlameKeeper. Tongue

I mean, yes, make music!  yeah! Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
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« Reply #24: June 29, 2008, 01:47:30 pm »

What's wrong with changing some of the lyrics in a song that moves you to match your purpose?  Okay, what he did in trying to pass off another song as his own was wrong, but if the tune itself is moving to you and you write your own lyrics to match it, is it still wrong?

I give it a thumbs up/thumbs down -- many traditional Christian hymns use older tunes and often the lyrics are interchangeable over the tunes. Those tunes also appear as drinking songs, folk songs, political songs, etc. So I see no issue with the practice of taking a tune and writing new lyrics IN AND OF ITSELF.

However, if the tune is copyrighted, that's a little squicky. Using it among a handful of people is not really a big deal, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. Secondly, just changing the names in a Christian song to make it Pagan seems to me at least a little disrespectful, even if I can't articulate why very well -- both to the religion you're taking it from, and the religion you're porting it into. And since religious songs typically express theology, it strikes me that the theology can't have matched right.

I mean, when Whoopie Goldberg takes pop tunes and makes them religious songs by word substitution in "Sister Act," it's played for humor value. It seems to me a sort-of flippant thing to do that could be amusing, but probably not real reverent.
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« Reply #25: June 29, 2008, 02:03:30 pm »

dude, if you're about to start writing Pagan music, I AM going to have to kidnap you and make you a FlameKeeper. Tongue

I mean, yes, make music!  yeah! Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
Have a couple on youtube. Never mind the visual I just threw some pics in so there was sumpin to look at. I have some personal issue's with myspace so I use youtube to throw music on atm. I have no idea at all if anyone could use them for anything at all but if so - have at em.

Here is a quicky one. Its basically a improvised jam that took me all of about 5 minutes to write and record but I like it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT9GPbVXdnE

This one is programmed but it was composed by me with some pics from some friends
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPWvE6PCMzA
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« Reply #26: June 29, 2008, 02:14:13 pm »

...just changing the names in a Christian song to make it Pagan seems to me at least a little disrespectful, even if I can't articulate why very well -- both to the religion you're taking it from, and the religion you're porting it into. And since religious songs typically express theology, it strikes me that the theology can't have matched right.

I think you articulated most of it fairly well...the theology isn't going to match if you just take a few words here and there, and that's a pretty big deal (and for some reason, thinking about it makes me imagine someone trying to paganize Rich Mullins' Sometimes By Step by simply adding an "s"..."Oh gods, you are my gods, and I will ever praise you."  I couldn't see that being done for anything but laughs).

Another problem I see with taking *well-known* songs from one religion and "converting" them to your purposes, even if you completely rewrite the lyrics, is that you run the chance that there will be individuals coming to you from that tradition, whether as converts or as curiosity seekers, and if you are using a song that they knew and sang in their church days, it is going to create a somewhat intense dichotomy in their minds between the tune being sung and they lyrics being used.  In ritual work, especially, it could be enough to throw the entire balance off if they aren't prepared for it. 

I would also say that, even though many hymns were also popular drinking/political songs for their time, very few are still remembered as such except by people who actually CARE about history (why does it feel like I'm mentioning an endangered species?), and even those that remember them as such are still likely to think of the hymn first upon hearing the tune.  Consequently, co-opting these songs for ritual purposes is very likely to put anyone with a Christian background in mind of Christianity.

Ultimately, though, it just seems kinda lazy and/or sophomoric to steal a song from another religion.  Lazy, in that the "thief" couldn't be bothered to look for music more fitting to their own tradition, and sophomoric in that I tend to think of a bunch of teenagers standing around trying to think about how they can "Stick it to the church," and deciding that putting pagan words to a Christian song would be really awesome (kind of like that couple caught screwing in a confessional a few weeks ago).
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« Reply #27: June 29, 2008, 02:27:39 pm »

Have a couple on youtube.

snip

I like...now why do you have to live in Canada?  I'd love to get together and jam some time.
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« Reply #28: June 29, 2008, 02:38:51 pm »

I like...now why do you have to live in Canada?  I'd love to get together and jam some time.

Yeah given that our styles I think come from a similiar place but are different I bet we could do some awesome stuff!
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« Reply #29: June 29, 2008, 04:46:01 pm »

and for some reason, thinking about it makes me imagine someone trying to paganize Rich Mullins' Sometimes By Step by simply adding an "s"..."Oh gods, you are my gods, and I will ever praise you."  I couldn't see that being done for anything but laughs).

*cracks up*

You reminded me of another category of music I've noticed - music from another religion and for another god that reminds me of my relationship with Those I honor, or some of how I experience the Divine.  The songs that come to mind first are "Calling Out Your Name" by Rich Mullins and "You Move Me" by Susan Ashton.
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