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Music & the Mind

Adapted from the Music & the Mind Info Sheet

Music. The wonder of sound with melody, harmony, and rhythm. It brings rest to the weary, energy to the tired, and enjoyment to all. So what does music have to do with the mind? Most of our body functions originate in the mind, from walking to hormone production, the brain is the control center.

The mind interprets and is affected by music based on several different factors such as: what music you have been exposed to and how much you’ve been exposed to it. The advanced musician actually ‘hears’ more harmony than the unlearned ear. Different styles of music affect individuals differently, but there are some commonalities that remain for us all.

Fast tempo’s (for the sake of simplicity I am using this term loosely) can raise the heart rate, raise blood pressure, and impart energy (by how the mind reacts to the music being played or sung). Even cognitive function is increased with energetic forms of music. Slow songs tend to lower the heart rate and blood pressure, relaxing us. But it is not tempo alone that affects us.

Harmonies and melodies activate the temporal lobes and can help brain damaged or brain diseased persons perform daily tasks which they could not perform without music. Music can also increase endorphin levels, those happy hormones, decreasing the need for pain medication. It can regulate many of the different stress hormones and it can boost the immune system.

It is very clear that music has a direct physiological and psychological effect on our minds. So, what is the best music for the mind? It depends. What kind of answer is that? The best one. Let me explain.

First, you should know the music that has been studied the most in relation to the brain is primarily western music. (Classical, most of Europe, all North American (non-native) are all considered western music.)

We are not the same emotionally from day to day. Some days we are under more stress than others, some days we are tired and lethargic, some days we are rushed and pressed on all sides. What you listen to on days you are tired will not be what you need on a busy, rushed day. Music needs to be appropriate to the situation, much like calorie intake or nutritional supplementation. But this doesn’t mean we let our emotions choose the music for us. Principle, or what is best for us on a rational level, must dictate the best course.

When we are down cast and tired, we need stimulating music. Perhaps “Marching to Zion” or "The Funky Chicken" or “Marches in C Major” by Mozart. And conversely, when we are running in all directions, something more soothing is required to aid us in relaxation. Thus we can use music consciously to control our own emotional state and even cognitive function. More on that later.

When music is allowed to run our emotions out of our control, this can produce harmful effects. Hypnotic states, aggressive emotions, and other negative effects can increase violence, make wrong seems funny or right, and reduce inhibitions to do that which is not in our best interest. And it’s not always "bad music" that is the trouble, sometimes it is good music at the wrong time that can produce an undesirable effect. Many documentary's use classical, and other music, to sway the viewer to accept an moral principle the producer wants to propagate.

Music is a wonderful resource that should be studied, not just appreciated at face value. It has power to do a world of good, but can be used improperly. I encourage you to study it for yourself. You may have notice I’ve not delved into Classical vs Rock or other such debates since many of you reading this are of different faiths, ideologies, and beliefs. We’ll get more into that in the info below for those of you who are Christians. For the complete health info sheet on music you can read, print and share click here.

A great source for REAL studies on music – pain management, how the heart is affected, stress relief, and even productivity.  The website is written by an unknown author but the studies quoted from are legit (at least the first few I looked at): 

I even found a study that showed cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen than those who didn’t listen to music Actually there are LOTS and LOTS of positive studies on rock/pop music out there so you will have to wade through it if you don’t approve of certain styles.

And one last resource that is really loaded with scientific research and has other real benefits of music like how music affects your behavior, music for children, and how to maximize benefit of music ... read this article at here for more detail


My view on music styles based on years of research (and a 6 month intensive investigation) about Christian's, CCM, and "Rock" music.

God gives timeless principles which span any music not just the current styles. Click here for EGW quotes on music for the SDA's who are reading. EGW refers to the prolific religious writer from the turn of the century, Ellen G. White. Below I've used many materials to do my research starting with scripture FIRST, then EGW, science, and finally I did listen to both sides of the matter. I have many dear friends on both sides who have very strong views and logical reasons for their views. Here is my dissection of it all to get to the truth.

Ok, I hate controversy!!! I like to avoid conflict at all costs. But here I am in the middle of it because I see so much error on this subject motivated from fear which I completely understand. I am appalled at the arguing and fighting of this subject on both sides. I've seen frustration, anger, fear, all play a role in discussions and none of these have any place for the Christian! It seems people jump from one side to the other, not really considering there may be a balance that God intends us to find and that styles DO affect us individual very differently. If your hand causes you to sin cut it off, but don't think you have to cut everyone's hand off. Likewise, we are not to tempt the weak. Is your music more important than a fellow church members fear of Satan's methods? Whether right or wrong, if we can be the bigger Christian, we are obligated to do so. Fighting reveals we are NOT on God's side. We don't fight over whether the sky is blue, where children come from, that morality comes from scripture, lying hurts relationships, etc. If music was absolute we would NOT fight over it. Simple as that. However, there are some real scientific facts about music that can't be ignored.

So because you don't know me from a hole in the ground I need to share a bit about who I am. I pray this will not come across as arrogant but I see so many lead astray by people with good intentions but no expertise. I am not a music professional, but I have done up to grade 5 in the Royal Conservatory (which is more musical training than many of the people out there preaching on this topic), have my Nutritional Counseling diploma (I have studied the mind in depth), have written well over 50 articles, compilations, and books, and am an ardent researcher. I've rarely got less than 90% on any college essay and my instructors have always been amazed at my ability to be unbiased and thorough on any topic. If you want to see my formula for how I generally conduct research visit this article. (All sources for this research are listed at the end . I apologize for not putting in the citations but this started as a personal study.) I have dear friends who have a "conservative music ministry" and for a few years I accepted much (but not all) of what they said out of ease and fear. (It's safer to just be as conservative as possible, right?). I've seen videos and read books on both sides of the controversy and I myself have been ON BOTH sides. I have prayed to be completely surrendered to this issue because otherwise the bias would be either self (I like CCM) or fear motivated (afraid I am dishonoring God). I implore you to do the same. Truth will only be revealed if we want to see it. So first let me give you some of my personal background/testimony. (You can scroll down to the research if you like - it starts with "Syncopation" but I think it's important to see where I am coming from.)

When I was young my parents started attending church. We were pretty normal folks in the 80's and listened to a variety of main stream Christian music including the Heritage Singers and other gospel music. One evening we attended an "anti-Christian rock" seminar and it changed my life. I was about 15 or so and an honor roll student. I am very analytical in my thinking (I love math and science) and was confused by some of the generalization and statement's I heard. I decided to check it out for myself and in the process came to believe it was a bunch of baloney. (Yeah, I know that's not to scientific of a word.) I started listening regularly to Petra, Micheal W. Smith, Amy Grant, etc. I can honestly say my morning worship time with God was unaffected and I continued to grow in the Lord by his grace. In fact, I would go so far as to say that music kept me from ever even being tempted to do drugs, go to parties, smoke, or drink. I was my rock, my foundation for connecting with God. I received a lot of spiritual strength through that music even though I went to public school and had few Christian friends (most of my friends were... how do I say this... well, one of them is currently serving time in prison.). So although the peer pressure was in one direction, by God's grace I remained loyal to Him, and I believe the music helped me. I didn't always fit in at church so I was a prime candidate for "loosing the faith" so to speak. I didn't! Well fast forward about 15 years to around 2000-2002. Married and having a son, we started to attend very conservative meetings. We loved what we learn and embraced it with our whole hearts. Much of it was EXACTLY what we needed. But out went any music that we thought was even close to "the Devil's music". We attended music seminars with a very conservative emphasis and it all made sense, but there were always questions. Why couldn't they identify directly what was God's and what was Satan's music? Why was such an emphasis put on "feelings" and yet in another breath we aren't to trust our feelings. But fear prevailed and we didn't want to offend God in any point. We decided it was best to walk the highest ground we could see. Fast forward to 2009. God had been leading me to STOP trusting in man for my salvation. I was constantly looking to others for approval. Was this ok, is that ok, etc. What a battle, what a blessing, what freedom! Up came the music issue again. This time I dug in deep. My honest prayer was "I am surrendered to whatever is the truth, no matter what that may be!" I fully expected to find some evidence in both directions, as Satan is the author of confusion, but what I didn't expect was how little REAL Biblical, EGW, or scientific evidence there was against much of the contemporary Christian music (or CCM) out there. STUNNED I dug deeper. Oh, yes there were lots of books, websites, commentaries, testimonies on previous secular musicians, and anecdotal notes. But little Biblical and "real" scientific info.

After prayerfully studying this subject for well over two years, some very interesting sources turned up such as getting a copy of the book "The Sound of Music and Plants" written by Dorothy Retellack (IMPROPERLY quoted by many, many people). I had been discussing this very question with a dear friend who is opposed to all “rock like” music or CCM, but he certainly couldn’t answer my fundamental question – what is scientifically wrong with modern Christian music (even music labeled rock)?  I use the term “rock music” lightly here.  CCM, Contemporary Christian Music, is the issue at hand.  It can be a bit subjective, but there are some musical guidelines, it's just most people who are arguing don't have much formal musical education. Anyway out came this book to "prove" rock music and CCM is BAD because it kills plants. Much to my surprise the book does the VERY opposite! Amazing! One or two quotes were taken out of context. "Acid" rock seemed to affect the plants poorly, but they lovely the contemporary Pop music of the 70's and New Age music so I certainly would not base my beliefs on such a book. In fact, some studies have disproved the whole "rock" kills plants.

As you read the following article I pray God will lead you. I am HUMAN. I may be right or wrong, you need to be led by GOD and not man! Please also consider my definitions of the words so you can understand the information. It is difficult to define music without samples to play for you, but due to copyright law I am limited. Keep in mind CCM spans a very wide spectrum of music styles, some of which may be inappropriate for different reasons. For example: if the lyrics go against the doctrines you believe to be Bible truth, it's irrelevant what style that music is -- even if it's a hymn! Conversely if the music is played poorly and doesn't bring glory to God, but causes you to stick your head under a pillow, it's irrelevant what style that music is. And YES there is music that science is saying is hard on the brain/body/mind, I'll come right out and say it -- heavy metal, acid rock, and other very loud, chaotic, disharmonious styles. HERE is the key. IF you ASK GOD to lead and guide you to be completely surrender to His will and have FAITH He will give you the wisdom, you can NOT go wrong. A fully converted heart will not listen to music that is against God's principles. No mystery. Salvation is of the Lord. You can't go wrong if you are open, honest, and surrendered! God is NOT the author of FEAR!

Ok, let's discuss in detail some of the issues you may heard on this subject.


Just a quick overview in music theory first:  

Music has some fundamental principles and terms. Here are just a few of the basics:

In music we naturally accent or stress a certain note according to the meter in the key signature. In 4/4 time it is the 1st and 3rd notes.  In 3/4 time it is the first note.  We often write it like this: s w w (strong weak weak), s w m w (strong weak medium weak).  Example: Amazing grace is 3/4 time so it is stressed like this: s w w, s w w, etc.  (See any music theory book, here just one: ) This is called meter.  For example we often use 4/4 time in hymns. (We also use 3/4, 6/8.)  Meter is how many beats there are per bar and where the accent or stress falls.  For example in a march, or 4/4 hymn, we accent the 1st and 3rd notes, with 1 having the most emphasis, S W M W (strong weak medium weak).  In a waltz, or 3/4 hymn, the accent is 1st note, S W W or Um-pa-pa, Um-pa-pa.  That is NOT syncopation, it is rhythm or meter.  

We naturally, even in hymns or classical music, accent 2 beats in 4/4 time.  (4/4 stands for 4 quarter notes in every bar, 3/4 is 3 quarter notes in each bar, 6/8 is 6 eighth notes in a bar, etc.  First number is how many notes, second number is what kind of note.) There is also cut time or 2/2 (2 half notes per bar), shown with a C and a / through it, like the cents symbol. This is used in marches, fast orchestral music, etc.  4/4 is the most commonly used notation.  It is used in classical music, hymns, rock, jazz, country, bluegrass, and so on.  Can also by symbolized with a C in the time signature.


Ok, sorry that was so long.....

Syncopation is the displacement of the accent or stress.  Syncopation drives a piece of music forward. It has been used in music of all types to add interest.  While syncopation is most common in rock, ragtime, and jazz, it also provides an element of surprise in classical music (including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven) and even hymns. Syncopation comes from the Greek word meaning “cutting short.”  Syncopation can be accomplished in various ways and some of these create a back beat or heavy syncopation: accenting the off note (W S W S), adding a new note with accent (S W SS W), playing the note “too soon”, or omitting the normally stressed note (_ W _ W).  Just a point of clarification, a stressed note and accented note is same thing.  I have seen articles say 2/4 is 'bad' because it is syncopated, but I think they mean the accent is placed on the weak notes 2 and 4 instead of the usual 1 and 3.  Otherwise it, 2/4, just doesn't make sense.  VERY rarely is a key signature of 2/4 – 2 quarter notes per bar, used in ANY music. (Just goes to show how often people write articles that really don't know what they are talking about.) In general the melody is usually played with the right accenting, while the harmony or percussion is used for syncopation in various styles.

Syncopation is NOT accenting the beat. It is accenting the off beat! I wish I could give you music samples to show you the difference, but most music is copyrighted! I will say, there are many songs (even most) in country music that people THINK are syncopated, but in fact, are NOT. Just because music is fast, has drums, or a strong rhythm doesn't make is syncopated. In fact, very soft music with NO DRUMS can be syncopated such as some classical pieces, but bringing in a strong cello harmony with a violin melody. Ok, so syncopation itself is used in all music, good and bad, but in different forms, amounts, and emphasis.  Most modern music uses syncopation throughout the entire piece and classical music only uses it for an emphasis. Country and country rock music uses it alternatively, sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not. I found NO scientific evidence to suggest syncopation itself is harmful to the brain. However a driving beat can affect the body and can cause the mind to think on certain thoughts. There are people who find this very distracting and even remind them of past sins. This is NOT good for them but not scientific evidence the music style is corrupt.

There can also be polyrhythm or multiple rhythms in music.  Basically, over simplifying here (music professionals please don't shoot me), the melody is one rhythm and another rhythm is added with another instrument. So the guitar could be playing S W M W in 4/4, but an extra instrument (like a bass guitar) is playing 7/8 - s ww s ww s, as well (actually this is often done on the drums, hands playing 7/8 and feet playing 4/4).  Polyrhythm was/is used heavily in African (sub-Saharan) music.  This is where some say jazz got it from, hence the 'jazz comes from “demonic” music' theory some people state. (the same people who use Dorothy Retellack's book avoid the fact she states plant love jazz music, not that I accept any of her book as she was NOT a scientist and had a strong bias before she started AND no one can repeat her findings with is part of the scientific method. If you can't repeat, it's not science.)  Although jazz didn’t start using it very much until the 1950’s, so it is not usually found in Negro spirituals (a form of jazz found in hymnals).  Oh, by the way, you can play a polyrhythm without syncopation, but that is rarely done. So perhaps the base of this kind of music is questionable, but that alone is not reason enough to dispense with it. (The Christmas tree is also pagan, but not evil in itself and we are commissioned to use it to the glory of God!) In heavy metal, hard rock, punk, the polyrhythm can get very chaotic (perhaps bedlam of noise??). And where did the African's get it? Did Satan invent it or twist it out of God's music? We really don't know!  Myself, I think we should AVOID strong contrasting rhythms and excessive polyrhythm as there is evidence they are not healthy for the brain or body. Here is the fundamental reason to avoid it. It is not good for your health. BUT remember some polyrhythm is found in classical music, just not excessively. Perhaps the different aspects of music, like tempo, polyrhythm, loudness, chording, key change, are a lot like food. You have to eat. It's best to eat good food, but even good food can be eaten to excess. Hmm. Just a thought.


Music types & the Sanctuary

So what makes a song rock or country, pop or punk?  Simply put, it is the combination of all the factors of music.  It is the tempo, speed, meter, polyrhythm – none, little or lot, syncopation, lyrics, the instruments and how they are played.  The whole package gives us timbre (said "tamber").  When you play middle C on a piano and then on a violin you can hear the difference even though both instruments played middle C, the same note.  This is timbre.  It is also called tone or color.  The whole “feel” of a song can make it a classical, folk, country, or rock piece.  This is the reason so many are opposed to the trap set (drums).  That particular instrument usually gives music a "rock feel" as does a bass guitar, although it can be played like a true bass (like in an orchestra) as well. Country music is usually 4/4 often with acoustic guitars, harmonicas, fiddles, etc. MOST hymns can easily be played as country music. Hymns and country music are written in a VERY similar fashion - tempo, key, and dynamics (loud and soft), are kept the same throughout the music. Interestingly some of the CCM I've heard is styled more like classical music. The tempo, dynamics and even key can change throughout. I'm sure you'll think that comment strange. How can CCM and classical music be compared at all??? Well, if you've ever listened to Mercy Me's song "I can't Imagine" and really think about all the dynamic changes you'll see if you played that song with a symphony you'd have a modern classical piece. It's the timbre that categories music, so while that song is "rock music" in timbre, it certainly does not follow secular rock music characteristic of pounding tempo throughout. Not to mention both classical music and CCM are written with a focus on emotion, while hymns and country music focus on the words and your thought process. WHAT classical music and emotion?? Yes, of course!! When movies want emotion, they often turn to classical music to provide it. Guess what, that's not a BAD thing! Pathos is an old English word for emotion, just look at what EGW says about that (click here to get compilation of EGW and music). Music should have pathos. We are to use music to move people to accept the gospel.

On the other side, I do NOT think loud, heavy beats are reverent, in my opinion and again EGW confers this. They just don't appeal to our sense of awe, mystery, and majesty of God and I am personally not comfortable with that in the sanctuary.  I don’t think David danced in the temple, but he did dance on route.  "To everything there is a season" says Solomon.  I believe the same is true of music (good music). I like campfire songs around a campfire but not at a wedding. My husband and I listen to country love songs together for our ‘date nights’, but I certainly would’t sing those in church. Remember you are worshiping an omnipotent God who created the universe.  In David's day, I just can’t image the trumpet battle call used in the temple worship.  At home, work, play, you have the freedom to express many things that are not appropriate to express in praise and worship.

BUT just because it is not appropriate (for many of us) in the sanctuary, doesn't make it evil.  I really think awe and reverence in church are called for in these last days of earth's history -- we are in the day of Atonement. AGAIN this is all my personal opinion!! I have no quotes or scripture to say this or that doesn't belong in the sanctuary, all I can say is be thoughtful of each other and work toward a pleasant happy medium for everyone. Include everyone in your church music style choices and work together. If we can't get along when we disagree, we are not surrendered to God!!! I certainly will not leave a church that has a few praise songs for worship, I just personally prefer hymns. Interesting that I'm defending something I am uncomfortable with. BUT that's just it. I can't find anything Biblical, scientific, or in Spirit of Prophecy that condemns praise songs. It's just not there. If you need to listen to 'this former rock musician' or 'hip hop artist' to make your decision who are you following God or man?



While the Bible does mention certain instruments, but it doesn't list any as offensive or pagan (and there was pagan music you can be sure of that).  We certainly can’t base what it doesn’t mention as bad, where is piano, organ, etc.? (Not invented yet of course.)  I don’t think God made any distinctions on instruments other than to give us an idea of what was used.  In fact, many of the instruments were percussion instruments and used for marching and dance.  Both Lyre and Harp are “soft” and the cymbal could have been used to hold the music together.  Trumpets are generally a boisterous instrument, used at the festive occasions. This is still all relevant to culture and time otherwise God would have given very specific directions on this matter (I don’t think there is a problem with pianos, a fairly modern instrument) God has not left anything relating to our salvation to chance. In any case, a ‘good’ instrument can be used poorly.  David himself is thought to have invented an instrument, so I doubt certain instruments were ordained by God as ‘ok’ with Moses for the sanctuary service, because that was well before David’s time.

All this is subjective and based on logic and opinion since we don’t have particular direction in scripture on this matter. Thus, let us give each other room and respect each other, as much as possible. EGW supports the fact music should be SOFT and melodious in church.   I think that if there are enough people in your church that are uncomfortable with it (drums, bass guitars, trap sets, praise music), their feelings should considered as we are not to be a stumbling block. Many people who come from a worldly background are even more uncomfortable with this style of music as it reminds them of their past drinking, dancing, and bar scenes (my father is one of these). It's hard to explain to 2nd and 3rd generation Christians just how much music brings back these memories, but science backs this fact up music and memory are very much connected.  (By the way 'trap sets' are intended for VERY LARGE buildings so they are often way too loud for most churches anyway! You can get drum kits that can be volume controlled, just as a side note for those more open minded churches, but we still should heed the counsel of "SOFT and MELODIOUS".) Music should NOT be allowed by SATAN to create controversy in your church!!!! Don't let the Devil in!!! I don't care what side of the issue you are on, if the issue takes over YOU ARE IN THE WRONG!! Evangelism, not music styles, should be the focus of your church, and of YOUR HEART!

I don't see any warnings for particular instruments in the Bible or in Ellen White's writings. (If you think you have a quote on drums, let me know, it's probably the one Associated with the Indian camp meeting where she was appalled at the Holy Flesh movement. By the way she also mentions trumpets and violins too (see previous booklet mentioned)! And science suggests that playing folk drums can accentually help FIGHT cancer (several studies are confirming this)!


Why is there an issue at all? What is the real issue with rock music?

If I took the advice from the different ministries out there (some of which are my friends) I would have to give up all drums, electric guitars, and even saxophones.  BUT, I am not convinced of doing so based on science and scripture.  Since there is not much for Bible texts (or EGW quotes - although she has LOTS to say about playing music properly.) science and logic will have to be my guide. But neither science or logic alone because each one of those on its own can take you in all kinds of directions. We must base our decision FIRST on the Word of God, SECOND on EGW (if you the reader is Seventh-day Adventist), and THIRD on science with logic. Leave the opinion of man out of it! (Yes, even my opinion!!!)

Many of the reasons given against contemporary music is based on other ministries (They quote each other, and reference themselves as quoting some kind of authority, and boy is that an understatement! I have see so MUCH CIRCULAR reasoning it is disheartening).  There is a large movement in the USA with the Baptists, and other religions, in regard to music, and much of what is being said is sometimes logical and interesting but not supported by science or actual scripture, only their interpretation of it and most of it motivated by fear.  Please be sure to look deep in to any information you see out there pro or con. Most of it is just mud slinging and arguing. Just a tool by Satan to keep us from Evangelism and reaching out. (Hmmm, maybe that's Satan's music. Getting us off track from our DIVINE purpose -- witnessing and sharing the gospel.)

Just one example:  Many quote the plant study by Dorothy Retallack "The Sound of Music and Plants". Type in 'rock music kills plants' in Google and you'll see what I mean, this book is quoted in most of the websites that come up. I have been reading the very book she wrote, in its entirety and it is a VERY interesting read. If you are going to select your music based on plant growth you’d be best listening to Indian, new age music complete WITH drums and syncopation. NOT that I would recommend it, but the plants loved it even better than the classical music.  She also believed plants had ESP.  She had a Christian bias (she was a church organist) and yet seemed to lean toward the new age movement, weird if I do say so myself. What people don't tell you is she also use pop (soft rock) and the plants liked it. The plants also liked jazz (Louis Armstrong, 10 of the Dixeland Kings), and were neutral to country music (Johnny Cash, Ray Obison, Burl Ives, Crosby, etc.) By the way, does anyone mention she tried just percussion and the plants did fine. (She used Steel Drums by La Paloma and Persistent Percussion by Kent records.) In fact, here is a mp3 clip of the "best music to grow plants" by Dr. George Milstein whom Dorothy quotes.

Certainly a heavy beat and loud noise is detrimental.  This is confirmed by others who've done studies that heavy metal, punk rock, and/or acid rock (she used Led Zeppelin II, Jimi Hendrix & Vanilla Fudge) is harmful to the human brain.  However jazz, country, and soft-rock (or pop – all with some “light” syncopation) were fine according to plant growth (I'm not saying you should just turn on the radio and listen to anything).  Science is just not backing up the “drums are bad” theory, not even in Dorothy's study.  In fact, the plants liked soft-pop and jazz.  Some will say the country music now is not like the 1970’s, it is more like rock.  Well, that may be partly true (but so many people don't really know music theory, MOST of the country music is still country in timbre), but the plants didn’t mind the “soft” rock of the 1970’s, which had syncopation and drums, so what is the real issue? 

Some say drums are from Africa and are inherently evil. Then why quote this study by Dorothy on music?  Dorothy found the plants did NOT mind drums. Some say jazz is inherently evil, and they trace jazz back to it’s African demon roots, but where did the African’s get it?  Does something become evil because it is used for evil?  Archeology, Jewish history, and the Bible all confirmed percussion was used for centuries by God’s people, David is just one example.  Here is where logic can fail if it doesn't dig DEEP enough. If I didn't have science I would use logic, but since there is science in relation to music and our health and brain, then that's where I'm going to rest my case. In fact playing drums (listening had NO effect) has been used in studies to increase cancer fighting cells. It's not a cancer cure, but it is interest that playing drums (in native American/folk type music) improved health!!

Here is my understanding from my personal research (sources listed below).  Excessive loud, pounding, beats.  Erratic, scratchy, noise.  Poor, frivolous, or evil lyrics.  Discordant harmonies (according to the listeners, this will vary from culture to culture).  Improperly played music, not enough practice, no pathos or emotion.  These are the things to avoid. PS: even good music played loud or for long periods of time can have detrimental effects on the brain as well.  See our info sheet on "Music and the Mind" ( NOT the EGW study)

Why no rock???  They (anti-CCM people) give several reasons, but those reasons are based on ideas and opinions. Many of them were in the industry and saw the bad and the ugly.  Some reasons seem quite valid.  BUT Here are the only two scientific/health/logic reasons I've found so far to avoid heavy syncopation, disharmonious chording, with contrasting poly rhythms.  

1. The beat reminds us of worldly music and thus can draw the mind in that direction regardless of lyrics.  (I do not find this to be true for myself, but my father does.)  You can see this is an individual thing and in love we must consider how this affects others - Romans 11.  

2. The beat drives our body before our brain kicks in.  It appeals to the carnal nature and can even make you feel like your heart is doing back flips. It affects the brain in a detrimental way and even reduced breast milk flow, and increases the risk of suicide. (There is studies on this one, albeit they ALWAYS use secular music, I'm sure lyrics don't affect breast milk, but I could be wrong. Stranger things have happened.)

As for many other reasons I’ve found or you've seen, they are subjective and open to much debate. Thus I am not going to go on with the mud-slinging and stoop to that level.  It seems music is discussed with certainty when we fear compromise.  Perhaps this is the biggest reason.  We are afraid. Sometimes with good reasons like: afraid of displeasing God, afraid of leading someone else astray, afraid we are self-deceived.  Or we can be afraid of what other’s think, afraid of the Devil, afraid of not being in control, afraid of compromise, afraid we will loose our faith, afraid of being wrong.  Sometimes the fear goes to far and drives us to become exclusive, legalistic, dogmatic, and even stressed over our own salvation and walk with Christ.

So what about the testimonies of those coming out of the music/television industry? Valid. The testimonies are usually wonderful experiences of how God led in that persons life. God leads us away from that which can harm us, but that doesn't mean He is setting you/them up as an example. We can't take the Christian walk of others and create RULES around their walk!!! Oh my, how close we are to the Jewish leaders. We love rules. They are easy to follow, easy to pass on. A relationship with Christ on the other hand is vague, not so easy to pass on. Rules are very important to those of us who are motivated by fear. We find comfort in rules. But principles? Something we have to take and analyze, converse with God on? That's too scary for many of us. I was trapped in this logic until God started me BACK on my own personal walk (I am just now getting back the personal relationship I had with my Saviour as a CCM listening youth!). How did I get my walk back and get rid of the legalistic dross? I read the Bible from cover to cover in an easy to read version. In fact I choose a new version each year to read in addition to other worship study material. I am sure your eyes will experience a whole new perspective. (By the way that advice to read from a newer version came from that same friend who doesn't believe in CCM -- don't throw out your friends because you don't agree, they may have some good advice for you.)

PLEASE don't try to invalidate or criticized others that God has led to leave the worldly music industry or even contemporary styled music. Read Romans 14. Principles are adaptable based on culture, perspective, and our own circumstances -- and this is NOT "relativism"! IE: modesty means many different things to different cultures and times. That's not to say there are no rules. We have the 10 commandments, Gospel, and EGW. But the commandments of Jesus in Matthew 5 and principles from EGW are not so cut and dried as say the 10 commandments. If someone ask for a shirt give him a coat. Does that mean never refuse a request for money or the stuff we own? No, but the exact meaning is something you have to work out with God on an individual, case by case, basis. Same is true of music. We do NOT have any rules stating exactly how music is or is not to be played. They are NOT there in the Bible or EGW. But there are principles to follow in regard to music.


Your church

I think if the church body is not opposed, there is no evidence to suggest it is wrong to have praise music or songs written after 1920, but they should meet the principles of soft and melodious, well practiced, not repetitive, etc. Personally I don't appreciate a lot of "fluff" songs (with simplest lyrics) BUT I do LOVE hymns and I tolerate some well done praise music in the sanctuary of other churches I visit, but that is my personal choice. At home, I listen to a much wider range of music. Even some (NOT ALL - mostly the less crazy/chaotic sounding -- keep in mind I've been isolated for over 10 years and just now coming out of my shell.) of Naomi Streimer, Steve Green, Micheal Card, and Mercy Me, BUT I would not enjoy these in a reverent church setting. Just too uncomfortable with that. (Again my comfort level is NO basis for a rule. But the comfort level of the members in the church SHOULD be considered. It's their church too! Please, please work together in not scaring off the folks with hearing aids and bar room tunes they want to avoid floating in their heads.)

We should do our VERY best to respect all those in our church.  We are so quick to defend our position, but slow to accommodate the elderly or those we feel are stuck in the past.  In fact, it seems people will do what they think the youth want at the expense of the dear elderly who should be talk to be respected and lovely by our youth.  Please work together. Don't let music become a tool of the Devil to conquer and divide the church! Evangelism should be our focus, not what style of music! If you think they are stuck in the past work on their hearts with prayer and encourage them to NOT look to man but to God for answers. Don't try to drum up ammunition to fight your cause. I am speaking to both sides here if you are still reading this, PRAISE the LORD, you are at least open to God's leading!


Ok in summary: Avoid excessive, heavy syncopation, playing too loud, playing with NO skill, poor lyrics (yes, even some Christian songs have poor lyrics), and offending half your fellow congregation - be respectful.  Read Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians. You are your brother's keeper so be careful where you lead. Keep in mind your home is your own, don't be lead by FEAR, but by GOD!

Whatever you decide, keep looking to JESUS!!!



EGW Quotes - download here

Music and the Mind Info Sheet for Sharing

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pharmacotherapy  “ Music Therapy Today Vol. IV (3) June 2003

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