Time Signatures

One! Two! Three! Four!

"A person who...does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs." Martin Luther

Wow. A little harsh, wouldn't you say? Music as a creation of God? Did you ever think about that? People the world over march to their own beat and appreciate their own music. How did music originate? If you can't assent to the age old adage of "God created it", alright. Luther says you're less than human and that you should essentially only hear the animals making their respective noises. Fair enough. I vote to give him a pass, I mean, maybe his quote was taken out of context? Funny thing is, a dyed-in-the-wool scientific materialist would point to the natural songs of birds and animals as giving rise to time signatures, musical structure and the overall creation of music. Because if it didn't come from God, it had to come from somewhere. Writing differs in some ways from music because the musician "discovers" a scaffolding, an architecture as it were, waiting for her to build her song within (like a nest?). And I hate to use a builder's parlance when I'm clearly referring to music which speaks—communicates—on a deeper level than words. But, as with anything beautiful, there is an order.


"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being." (Psalm 104:33)

Singing is one of the most cathartic things you can do. Maybe that's why those who might be a little on the shy side (like me!) only do it in the shower or the car with the windows up? Because we're perfectly fine with the sound of our voice. We don't care (or realize, for that matter) that we're off key. We might be tone deaf but we sound just as good as whomever it is we're listening to. Provided they're singing louder, of course. It's when we get together and harmonize that the flaws come out and realign and end up sounding absolutely wonderful. A diapason, as it were.

Real quick: have you ever been driving and seen birds at different places on telephone wires and wondered if you were to notate their position on a musical staff, what it'd sound like? God knows. And He'd get them to sing it for you if you wanted.


"Sing unto Him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise." (Psalm 33:4, emphasis mine)

If you are musically inclined, go for it. Maybe now it doesn't hold the white-hot effervescence it did when you discovered it as a kid, but I would wholeheartedly recommend taking some time during your busy life to develop the gift of music. I see creative gifts as one of the few things we had when we got here that we'll be able to take with us when we go, developed or not. We’ll have all eternity to continue to develop our gifts for service and worship to God, but the more exercised they are when we get there, the more fun it'll be for those listening. Paul says "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." (1 Timothy 6:7) But again, if our gifts (whatever they may be) are a part of us, does that mean we'll be able to still compose/write/draw when we get to Heaven? I believe so.


Bass is interesting. Without it, I think life would be jarring and a lot harder. It's kind of like a halfway point between the drums—with their rigid time-keeping—and the flamboyance of the lead guitar. It's my jam—electric bass, that is. One of my life goals is to learn to play. I suppose my main (adult) inspiration would be Geddy Lee of Rush (Victor Wooten is equally awesome in my book). The man's bass lines and melodies are amazing, a wonder to behold. When I discovered Rush, I felt a certain closure with reference to my musical aspirations—I knew what I wanted to do, instrumentally speaking. Having received a simple acoustic guitar for my twelfth birthday and well on my way to teaching myself to play, I lost interest for whatever reason. I guess I never felt a heart-connection. I feel it with the bass.  Creatively, I would consider myself a writer first and foremost but intend to learn someday. And until then? I’ll just air-bass vicariously through him (but he'd definitely be the one doing it louder).


Backbeat is essential. Have you ever listened to a song that doesn't follow traditional 4/4 time signatures? While the odd time signature is harder to reproduce and certainly intriguing, music bereft of a "normal" beat can be odd and hard to take in. I love Radiohead and while I use them for clarity, sometimes the, how can I say this, wateriness doesn't do it for me.  We have a heartbeat, after all and without it, we'd be dead on the floor. Look for it. Listen for God's beat for your life. Because even if God didn't create music (He did), He created you. He has a one-of-a-kind playlist for you to follow where you'll feel right at home in His composition. The peace that follows from stepping in time to God's leading can be found no other way, not even from music.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psalm 32:8)

P.S. I know all this refers to rock. While it's my favorite genre, it isn’t for everyone. Part of what makes music the thing it is, is its subjectivity. To each their own. Also: my favorite song of ever is "Limelight" by—who else?—Rush.

Rock on.


In Tents

An Aperitif for the Hereafter