Music evokes various emotions in people—whether it be sadness or happiness—and triggers emotional sensations that have never been felt before. For years, music has been used as a tool to provide faith for the general society. Through a religious lens or even just during troubled times, it has allowed us to look on the bright side as well as get closer to our faiths. However, the question is: why has it been the bearer of faith for all these years?
Society has allowed music to hold such an important role; a role that could potentially change our attitudes towards religion and life as a whole. Moreover, it has been able to transcend all vessels of discrimination and connect with our innermost feelings as human individuals, regardless of our race or gender identity.
In terms of religion, music plays a crucial role in practising one’s faith. In Christianity, songs are normally sung during Church congregations. Most of the time, they are sung in unison, which acts to bring all church members together. Furthermore, it is used to express emotions and feelings towards God and acts almost like a voice of faith. Music comes in various forms in churches such as gospel music, hymns, psalms and even instrumental music.
These different types of music are modes of worship for Christians to show their devotion to God. In a way, there is beauty in using music to express their respect and love for their religion. Lyrics and tunes that unite to form a connection with God are fundamental and uphold their faith during religious practices. Music is also crucial to maintain their serenity and strengthen their relationship with God as it holds a lot of importance in keeping a person’s mental wellbeing stable, with the assurance that they have their faith to rely on. In short, it gives them a sense of purpose in life which is pre-eminent.
In Islam, musical elements can also be deemed as a mode of worship. For instance, there is the Islamic call to prayer as well as the recitation of the Quran, which both feature vocal improvisations as prominent religious expressions in Muslim culture. Contrary to gospel music or singing in unison in Christianity, the call utilises vocal manipulation which requires the Muezzin (the official who does the call to prayer) to create tonal variations and different rhythms solely with the sound of their voice.
These calls are often amplified through a loudspeaker so that individuals who follow Islam are informed about their window time for praying as all Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day at allocated time slots and the prayers differ based on the time of day. Quran recitations also involve these vocal manipulations and hold a lot of significance to followers of the religion as the phrases are believed to be sacred words of Allah. Although these religious expressions are not considered music, it is undeniable that the projection of such linguistic musicality holds a major significance in Islam for Muslims to express their faith in God.
Music is not only utilised for religious purposes to portray faith, but is also used on secular occasions as well. There have been a plethora of musical portrayals that spread the message of having faith in a dark situation or having hope during tough times. The song Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles would be a perfect example of looking at the bright side when life seems grim or underwhelming and to have faith in what comes next. The song expresses George Harrison’s (guitarist) feelings towards the arrival of spring and its relieving nature.
On the day George Harrison wrote Here Comes The Sun, he had been bombarded by an array of business meetings to attend regarding matters related to his band. These meetings were stressful and extremely hectic. His decision to bunk off the meetings to find a moment’s peace allowed him to write this wonderfully hopeful song that helped him ease off the fraught situation he was in. The song features an array of time signature changes and a Moog synthesizer which all add to its comforting nature. Here Comes The Sun became an international success and is still used to this day as a symbolism of happy days and having faith in all things that are bright and beautiful in the world.
Ultimately, faith comes in all shapes and sizes and music has enabled us to explore our faith deeply and sentimentally. The sounds of music can take shape and act as the voice for many religions or ‘build a bridge over troubled water’ for those who are undergoing difficult times. Music’s ability to adapt according to its use is remarkable and it shall continue doing so for years to come, not only for faith but various other things as well.
By: Keerthi Shanggar