In Part 1 of this series, I addressed the objection by some Christians to modern music styles, and I talked about elements of musical theory and the difficulty of talking about rock music (or any genre) as a “thing” that can be scientifically defined. In this article, I examine how social and demographic factors influence the way people perceive music, and that such factors likely play an even bigger role than musical theory.
For now, let’s set aside the issue of Christian vs. secular music and focus just on secular music. Under the umbrella of modern music are many genres, and there are social expectation for which genres certain demographics should like. For example, as a young adult male, I am supposed to like styles such as rock, rap, and metal. But I am not supposed to like teen pop, for instance (it’s one of those things that’s like, “no, just no”).
Publically expressing interest in music outside the social norms for one’s demographic can, for some people, induce a sense of embarrassment. For religious people who are very sensitive to their consciences, this feeling can mimic the sensation they get when their consciences convict them of sin. When people hear music that is common among a certain demographic, they tend to associate the musical traits with stereotypical behavioral traits of that demographic. These behavioral traits may go against the social norms of one’s own demographic, causing a feeling of insecurity about one’s inward state.
I often see people reference their “guilty pleasure” songs, and often times, that is not due to anything offensive in the lyrics. Rather, that “guilty” feeling comes because they like a song with musical traits that go against the norms of their demographic. But, for religious people, the feeling from hearing a “guilty pleasure” song could resemble the feeling when their consciences are nagging them. This, I believe, is why some Christians claim to be convicted that modern music is immoral.
I can acknowledge that some precursors to modern music (such as Rock’n’roll) did not originate in the most upstanding environments. It is understandable that some religious people would be uncomfortable with such styles due to associations that their mind makes with such music. However, I believe that same feeling of inward discomfort can be triggered in people who do not have moral objections to a certain style. Thus, I don’t think the discomfort experienced by some represents a conviction that all Christians should be expected to share.
Sometimes, things are not as they seem. I am taking a class in computer networking now, and the professor said that walls are mostly space, despite functioning as solid in many situations. After all, wireless signals travel through walls, and that could only happen if the wall is mostly space. However, the empty space would only be realized at the atomic level. I think this is analogous to musical styles such as rock music in the sense that, from the standpoint of a particular person, rock music could certainly feel immoral to a particular person and cause inward discomfort (similar to how a wall feels solid, and walking into a wall will stop you in your tracks). However, if we examine the core elements that make up rock music (as I described in Part 1 of this series), I believe it is evident that nothing inherently immoral exists.
So, that concludes my thoughts on music for now. If you have any views on music that you would like to share, feel free to post in the comments section.