Is the origin of music answerable?
One of the exciting experiences of life comes when we suddenly see or understand something for the first time or in a very different way. We may call these experiences “epiphanies.” They are often of a spiritual nature and may have a slightly mysterious or enigmatic twist. They also may suddenly explain something that we have been puzzling over for a very long time.
Music became an essential part of my life when I was about five years old. I actually began to think about where music came from as a very young child. However, I found that the answer to that question evaded me. As I grew up and began to study piano, the question of the origin of music pursued me. Although it was never very far from my conscious thinking. Finally, in my forties, I was able to attend college and study music seriously. The same query—what is music, really, and where did it come from— was an on-going part of the every-day conversation among all of us students, but the interesting thing was that there never was a satisfactory answer.
The Origin of Music – What – Where – Why
An off-shoot to “what and where” was “why.” Why is music such an integral part of life everywhere? And why do children spontaneously respond to music in such dramatic ways as they all do? And why is it that all of nature is bound by rhythmic rules and regulations? What higher power dictates that rhythm is a constant in all of Creation? Or is there a Higher Power Who dictates? I say that there is. This is the basic premise of both of my books—-God’s Song and God’s Opera. And there is, I believe, ample evidence to support that premise.
And then, in my autumn years, a very profound turn of events opened an entirely new avenue of thought. I met a scholar, Jeremy Begbie, whose intellectual and spiritual drive was to integrate the worlds of theology and art. He has done this in such a way as to enhance both. It also provides an artistic avenue for understanding “the beauty of holiness” and the Truth of God.
It was a concept that I had intuited for a lifetime but had no way of expressing. Meeting Jeremy turned my thinking onto a new path of inquiry. It provided a vast new field of understanding the depth of God’s great beauty, creative power and saving grace. As the years went by and our friendship grew, I began to understand that his was a remarkably powerful role in a movement of inquiry. This inquiry would undoubtedly result in new thinking about the power and truth of the entire field of theology. This was no small innovation in theological thinking. This was revolutionary thought, that art played an irreversible and intractable role in the revelation of Truth. In my thinking, it was the culmination of “finding truth in music.” And the idea was—and is—spreading worldwide.
The Origin of Music Haunted My Thinking
It continued to haunt my thinking. There had to be a plausible answer to the origin of music — actually the origins of art in general. There must be some deeply acceptable answer to the “raison d’etre” of the arts as well. Then a thought began to take shape in my wandering mind. I believe God sang the creation commands. Vibration — God’s singing voice provided that vehicle.
About that time, I found the scripture in Zephaniah that speaks of the song of joy sung by the Omnipotent Lord over His people. So, God was a Singing God. Music might well be one of the attributes of God along with His mercy, love, grace, patience and truth. So, music, as is the character of God in general, may have no origin, and maybe in truth, eternal and timeless.
Here is the epiphany. Sound, musical sound, vibration, must be noted along with other attributes of God as an essential element of His eternality. It can be then recognized that music is an artistic force. It has, has had and will have no beginning, no ending and no reason for being other than its own truth. This is Truth in Music as God is Truth.
Music as an art then developed along with the other arts, sculpture, literature, poetry and all of the other expressive arts that are an accepted part of mankind’s intellectual and artistic progress. But the origin, the genesis, of music lay in the very Nature of God Himself. This truth easily explains the omniscience, overriding presence and irrevocable power exerted upon all of Creation by musical entities of all kinds. It explains the inexplicable nature of music as a force. Music simply is, as God simply is.
I Know the Origin of Music!
This is a subtle, but extremely powerful hypothesis, and if taken to the deepest level of consideration, could have a revolutionary effect on the total understanding of music and the artistic world. Music now becomes not only a treasured gift, but it is finally understood as an integral building block in the creative process of the entire universe. It becomes a force for change in the comprehension of Who God is, what Creation is and the interaction between them.
As I enter the twilight years of my life, I can truly say, I know the origin of Music! I do not think that the intellectual world has ever quite considered this concept, and it is my hope that my erudite friends and colleagues will give it due consideration.