Thursday, November 05, 2015

A linguistic thought on Old Testament music

I have learned recently about a breathtaking view of "good music" by Bill Gothard; that if it is in common or 4/4 time, emphasis ought to be on the first and third beats of each measure, with particular emphasis on the first.  He further noted, with no particular evidence, Biblical or otherwise, that "offbeat" emphasis on the 2nd and 4th count of common time (or a basic polka beat) was the common tactic of modern music.

My first thought was that a lot of the music I grew up listening to follows the pattern Gothard recommends, including this IBLP-friendly song featuring a musician who performs in a coat and tie, and he's honoring his childhood school with the choice of outfit.  What a nice young man--turns out he's a teetotaler and a family man, too.  Notice that the lead singer also is wearing a hat--how nice!  Let's sign them up for special music this Sunday, no? 


Seriously, a look at the Hebrew language might say something a little bit more edifying than bringing up my misspent youth and my obvious mockery.  Specifically, classical Hebrew tends to stress the final syllable of each word, and if we take a look at, say, Psalm 1, we will find that two-syllable words are very prevalent to start a line in Hebrew poetry. 
In other words, the very structure of the Hebrew language lends itself to an off-beat musical structure like this.

Which is exactly what anyone familiar with traditional Jewish music would have told you to begin with.

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