Friday, October 1, 2010

Progressive Rock

I am a huge fan of thoughtful, creative, and nice sounding rock music.  This is the sort of music that stands the test of time and you can listen to it over and over and over again without becoming bored with it.  There are two reasons why we don’t become bored with music (or anything really) and those are:
  1. Because it is rich and full, so that every hearing of the music leads to new discovery over a period of years.  Then, after all of the discovery is done, when you listen again, you constantly re-discover and note all of the amazing skill and creativity in crafting such wonderful music.
  2. The other reason that we don’t become bored with music is that we are being shallow listeners who are easily satisfied by a mere groovy rhythm, or basic lyrics.  The sort of music that appeals to the shallow listener will disengage the mind and it is not an active process to listen to it.  There is a place for this sort of music (perhaps) but I’d rather not spend the majority of my listening time with it.

There is another reason that I enjoy thoughtful music, and that is the dealing with issues of importance through song.  Music is a great gateway for people to encounter political, social, and moral themes, of which they might otherwise be unlikely to experience.  There is also the option of switching off from listening to the lyrics and just taking in the music.  There is a bit of choice in dealing with the subject matter so that it is kind of hard to have a perspective rammed down your throat.  You can always switch it off too!

The reason I like rock music is that the beats are strong and suit my pace for doing things.  I also got into drumming about 18 months ago and this really cemented the rock music, and even a bit of metal, as being a firm favourite.  I find that my natural pace for doing any activity is quicker than most, and that does not mean that I am rushing, just that my perceptions are working a bit quicker.  I like to get “in the zone” and work there and I enjoy doing this with a strong but complex beat to engage my mind and the rhythm center of my body.  Rhythm helps you work fast but precisely, so long as the rhythm matches your ability well enough.

The inspirational life (not just the fantastic drumming) of Mike Portnoy was a real inspiration to me also.  Being so much more than a highly accomplished drummer, his battles in life, his focus on family, and positive values and character traits amidst a scene reputed for just the opposite; these were things which inspired me and attracted me to the progressive scene.  

A part of the progressive message is that you can follow your dream, and you don’t have to be conformed to the way the rest of the world operates, so long as you have a mind to develop your ability and think outside of the square.  As a Christian, I can see that Jesus modelled this, and encouraged others to do so also.  Now I don’t want to minimise the magnitude of Christ’s ministry by comparing it to something so insubstantial in comparison as a particular genre of rock music, but the parallelism is definitely present.  This is most strongly embodied in the demonstration of doing what you know to be right, despite the opposite being the main course of action of those around you.  For Christians (followers of Christ) they will pursue God and His ways even if it means they will be rejected by everyone.  Even when everyone else is walking the wide road to hell of self-indulgence and loveless-ness, we will battle the flow and seek to move in the self-sacrificing direction of love that is a sign of a new creation in Christ.

If you are a Christian, you might not be a fan of rock beats like me, but hopefully you can see that it is too narrow a view that dismisses rock music as evil.  If you have a tendency to dismiss in this way, perhaps you need to take a look at the foundations of faith and see whether there is really a conflict.  For your conscience there may be, but for the many, many who do not have a conflict between their faith and the music they listen to, you will alienate them before you’ve had a chance to share the life changing, and ever progressive message of the gospel of Jesus.