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Author Topic: Music In Rituals  (Read 13523 times)
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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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