(Old Facebook Post)

This is fascinating! As someone who has spent significant time pondering and reading about to what extent musical languages are universal, this article corroborates my conclusions. (Musical languages are mostly not universal. This challenges a lot of conservative assumptions about “good” and “bad” music and the “inevitable” effect certain kinds of music will have upon a person.)

But this article (and the book reviewed) also surprise me with another idea: apparently musical success in a multicultural church is determined less by the extent to which multiple musical styles are incorporated into the worship service than by the extent to which the group bonds around any style in mutual, shared music-making. In other words, give more effort to including everyone in making music together (use all the local talent you can awaken, involve everyone) and lose less sleep trying to include the traditional musics of each sub-culture in your church. The later is good, but apparently not absolutely essential for congregational satisfaction.

I suspect there are additional considerations not mentioned in the article: What about newcomers to the church, who may face a musical language they do not know and in which they have not yet participated in musical fellowship? What about musical language differences that are so large that it is hard for people to begin entering into a true fellowship of shared music making? In such cases, would it not be better to begin the shared music-making process with a mixture of musical languages that are closer to what people already know?