[Pt. I Proj.2]- Research point 1.1: The Mass- pt II.- 500 word article on ‘Religion and Music’

*Write a brief article of around 500 words in your listening log about the connection of music with religion. Mix in your personal views with what you have discovered through research. 

500 word article on ‘RELIGION AND MUSIC’

After spending a substantial amount of time trying to research the origins of both the Mass and religious music in general, it becomes increasingly obvious that the difficulty in finding a point of origin is due to the fact that music seems to have always been present at religious or spiritual gatherings and has formed a part of ritualistic behaviour since time immemorial. Not only have the Judeo-Christian/Muslim traditions used song in their worship, but the same is also true for the Hindu and Buddhist Traditions who use chants and mantras as part of their prayers and rituals. Music, singing, chanting and invocations are also used by Native American Tribes, along with drumming and dancing. The same holds true for most spiritual traditions across Africa and Polynesia. Aside from a few recent groups, such as the Quakers, I have not been able to find many religions which do not include any music in their practice. Perhaps it is because music is one of the most emotionally expressive means at our disposal, or perhaps it is because of its ability to induce a ‘supernatural’ experience … science has also shown that words set to a melody are much more memorable than either melody or text are separately. There is something about the way our brain is wired which makes it predisposed to remembering lyrics set to melodic and rhythmic patterns, the mantra like effect lodges itself effortlessly in the long-term part of our memory. Songs are in fact one of the few things that even people with Senile Dementia or Alzheimer’s will be able to recollect. What better way to disseminate a message and convey stories or historic events? Participating in music is also a very social behaviour. We engage and share in it as a group. The inclusivity and connectedness reinforce the sense of belonging to the same tribe. I’d go as far as to say attending a major concert, be it traditional, pop, rock, jazz or classical, is the closest thing modern society has to a religious experience. It is a setting in which a collective ‘trance like’ state is considered completely acceptable and even desirable. Loosing yourself in the music, letting go of any inhibitions and feeling a part of the tribe whilst worshipping the only modern-day prophets we still have. In this context spiritual, otherworldly experiences are common and not frown upon. There are no sceptics or non-believers at a gig. We are all converted and saved. It is one of the truly cathartic, shamanistic and magic experiences we still allow ourselves. Music and religion are still as interconnected as ever and for many music has become our religion.

To quote my friends the band ‘Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘;

‘I fell in love with the sweet sensation
I gave my heart to a simple chord
I gave my soul to a new religion

Whatever happened to you, rock ‘n roll?
Whatever happened to our rock ‘n roll?
Whatever happened to my rock ‘n roll?’