Follow me on a mystical voyage to see how music can affect our minds, bodies, and souls, often in very diverse ways. As subjective as music is, its beginnings are probably more controversial. History suggests that music, more specifically rhythm created by striking objects such as sticks, stones and tree parts in time, originated as a means for man to celebrate, praise and worship God through communion (unity).
In order for ancient man to idolize his God, gods or leaders, he first used his voice to chant spiritual phrases. Later, man found out that his words could be accentuated through rhythm by using what we now call percussive devices or musical instruments. It is imperative to remember that while rhythm is a critical facet of music, music is more than just rhythm. Early percussion instruments were struck, rubbed or scraped in order and in unison to signal the members of a particular group. This became an effective means of communication used to strengthen a group’s social progress.
Much of man’s early association with music is chronicled in one of the oldest and most widely recognized pieces of literature–The Holy Bible. It is a universally viable source that was used for reference in this part of Chapter One. Please note there are other histories that pre-date certain Biblical occurrences by several millenniums. Proof that ancient civilizations have existed before the Bible have been exhumed in Egypt, India, Mongolia and other places. Documentation of primeval cultures such as the Celts and Etruscans offer other informative stories of man’s connection to music. For now, we’ll take a look in The Bible and pick up clues relative to our ‘historical musical mystery.’
The Bible is composed of two major components: The ‘Old Testament’ is a history of the Hebrews, and the ‘New Testament’ is the fulfillment of the prophecies from the Old Testament upon the arrival of Christ. All of this occurred explicitly to help man redeem himself and save his soul. My overall perspective is that The Bible was written with man’s soul in mind, so it’s only fitting that our excursion takes off from there. It won’t take long, especially if you can speed-read! Disclaimer: The chronicles you are about to lay your eyes on may seem familiar, but I don’t believe you’ve ever read them this way before.
Over the next few pages my co-author and I will share with you some of our interesting findings. As you read on, you will see how the evolution of music unfolds as it moves through Africa, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and finally, the Americas. I cordially invite you to join us as we take a journey through history to find out what makes this anomaly called music so inexplicably important to people from every corner of the globe.
As your self-appointed tour guides, we urge you to take on the information contained herein with your eyes. Let it wander around in your mind as you relax your body, and your soul will carry you through this adventure. I’m sure you’ve never been on a ride like this, and I hope it’s one that you won’t soon forget. So put on your safety gear–-seat belts (‘click it or ticket’), goggles, helmets, gloves, insulated shoes (we be gellin’), and anything else you need to take on this trip. We are preparing to ‘roll tide’ into the great and powerful, yet surreptitious world of music. That being said, let's get it started!
Mention of musical instruments date far back in time. Examples can be found in the Book of Genesis. In this chronicle, the lineage of music is traced to a man who played the flute and harp, named Jubal. Now I don’t know how good this guy was, but he is said to be the ancestor of all musicians.
Jubal was the son of a couple named Lamech and Adah. Lamech was a sixth generation son of Cain (who killed his brother Abel). And it’s no secret that Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve, God’s first human creations. Lamech's other wife Zillah gave birth to Tubal Cain, a metalsmith that specialized in bronze and iron, two metals commonly used to construct instruments in those days.
During the aftermath of Abel's death, Adam and Eve had a third son named Seth. Sometime later Seth bore a son named Enosh, and “man began using the Lord's Holy name in worship.” As you can see from this briefing, people were influenced by music and its elements since the beginning of mankind’s unfolding story. These activities are chronicled in the opening chapters of Genesis before Chapter Five, just a few pages into the Book of Life's story. Let’s dig a little further.
In the Bible, there is mention of three archangels or celestial beings that possess great authority in Heaven: Michael, a warrior and protector, was responsible for leading God's battles. Gabriel was a messenger that often made appearances on Earth to deliver ‘God’s Word,’ and then, there was…Lucifer, whose name means “light-bearer” or “day star.”
Lucifer was the angels’ master musician and choir director. Lucifer was not only a musician, he was also an instrument. What made him spectacular was that God incorporated his torso with strings, pipes and tambourines that enabled him to produce the entire spectrum of sound as it was then known to man. His duties included utilizing music to lead the angels in delivering their praises to God. Any other use of music at that particular time was a violation of God’s will. Lucifer felt differently because he believed he too, should be worshipped for his one-of-a-kind ability. After all, he held an illustrious position in Heaven next to God! But, it’s not within God’s will to submit to any perpetrators, so he cast Lucifer out of Heaven; henceforth Earthbound.
Somehow, Lucifer managed to persuade a third of Heaven’s angels to depart with him, and worship him as a god. Although Murphy’s Law wasn’t around yet, it was imminent as Lucifer and his demons fell into the physical dimension of planet Earth. When Lucifer was cast down to Earth, music became worldly. Music would now appeal to man's lower nature in lieu of being used exclusively to worship God. Since Lucifer was allowed to keep some of his powers, he was able to obtain much of the worship that he so desired. God’s banishment labeled him as the “Prince of Darkness” on Earth, from which he adopted surnames and characterizations such as “Satan” and “the serpent” to mask his infinite faces of mischief. Lucifer started using his newfound abilities for trickery, like when he convinced Eve to bite the infamous apple, and influencing Cain to kill his brother Abel.
At times, I scratch my head due to the irony of this story. Cain and Abel were the first brothers (siblings) on Earth. An Arab legend claimed that the first human song ever written was one of grief with regard to Abel's unexpected murder. God’s banishment of Lucifer did not disrupt all of music’s holistic value, but music assumed a new dimension; it was no longer as ‘holy’ as God had ordained it to be.
Lucifer did not design God’s ultimate plan, but he could mimic it through deception and musical prowess to reinforce his evil deeds. While music is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible, Hell is mentioned roughly 10 times less than music. To me, this indicates that the Bible has a much greater emphasis on God, man and music than on Hell. The Bible emphasizes that music is as vital as all other Heavenly ministries. Evidence of this is witnessed in over 200 scriptures that make reference to song and dance with instruments like cymbals, flutes, harps, lyres and viols. God commanded music to be one with life and worship, and even today it’s a prime component of most church services. Further explanations are in The Book of Psalms, which is devoted to songs of praise and worship.
Biblical accounts state that praising God through music prepares worshippers to receive God’s blessings. The Bible regards songs, musicians and instruments as tools that communicate ‘God’s Word’ to human beings. If this is so, then God obviously loves music; The Creator deeded one of his subjects (Lucifer) to administer music until he messed up and got relieved of his heavenly duties. Needless to say, he was evicted from his penthouse in the clouds to an unventilated basement in the core of the earth.
Many of us believe that the imbalanced friction between the ideological forces of good and evil somehow control the world. These forces meet at the crossroads between God’s non-secular sounds and Satan’s secular influences. Surrounding where these two devout realms intersect, we get everything else. This juncture is what I term as the harmonious sounds of life. The way I see it, history is the declaration of man’s past activities, and music is one of a few items that all races and creeds have in common. Harmony centers on the unity of musical events or notes over time, while human harmony (peace) centers on the unity of people.
Even in war, music held a grand association with man because certain sounds can activate certain emotions. For instance, before battles, many musicians accompanied their armies to motivate and inspire them onwards to victory. In the book of Joshua, God told Joshua to march with his army around the city of Jericho once a day for six days. On the seventh day, seven priests with trumpets made of ram's horns were to sound off and march around the city seven times. After the priests sounded their trumpets, Joshua commanded the crowd to shout aloud, which caused the city walls to vibrate, crumble, and fall. The plan concluded when the army stormed into the city, overthrew the hierarchy, proclaimed victory, and gave all praise to the Lord. Just like on the Internet, there are mounds of fascinating Biblical stories for you to read. In a minute, we’ll peep around the bend at some of Europe’s interesting musical eras, and then jump into the unique music of the often-termed ‘Third World’ continent of Africa.
Here’s a ‘psychodrama’ question that I pose to you readers. If the term ‘Third World’ is often used in reference to the countries of Africa, then what are the nations that make up the ‘First’ and ‘Second’ Worlds, and why are they rarely referred to by those terms? I am often perplexed by how some people can still think of Africa as a ‘Third World’ when so much of our world’s history, natural resources and treasures have been stripped from this land. Africa has struggled to overcome its own share of challenges for a while. We’ll see some of them shortly, so plug your ‘cranial-modem’ in! But first take a breather and contemplate this ‘Third World’ issue for a moment. Feel free to use this topic in future discussions of global affairs.
To ensure you have a safe, pleasurable, and fun-filled voyage in ‘the land of God, man and music, we’ll pull this gas-guzzling time machine over at the next ‘visitor’s center’ for snacks and a biological break: you do you and handle your business. As we resume our voyage, we’ll take a look at two more remarkable incidents in the Good Book. Once in gear, we’ll set the cruise control to “keep it moving.” I confiscated this phrase from a soldier by the name of Wade “J3” Jones. He’s one of the squad leaders in the elite, ever-grinding “Knights of the Sound Table.”
You may see me use “keep it moving” quite often (sometimes without being preceded by the word ‘please’–-in any event, ‘please’ refer to the disclaimer on Page Two for any further questions). With that out of the way (and my official credentials coming out of a cheap vending machine), I now ‘officially’ sign on as one of your self-appointed tour guides, in our mutual quest for what my nephew Dez Tutu calls “superior intellect.”
Excerpt from 'MUSICOLOGY 101' by L.A.Jackson,
(c) 2006. Publishers and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
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