On Sunday Service 6/18/2023 regarding CCM

This is the last day I serve as violinist for E's "praise team". I had notified her a week earlier. This was after Nadia's urging, not to wait for Tom, whose view on church music I cherished somewhat because he had on a few counts suggested singing hymns instead of these contemporary music. Of course, by hymns I understand as traditional hymns, which stood the test of time. Not some hymns replaced with contemporary tunes and styles.

Come to think of it, the reasons are plentiful, that I decided to quit. I don't think it was understood by E, as she's probably too influenced by the Jesus Freak Movement/Jesus Revolution of the 1960s, which is illustrated by the 2023 movie: Jesus Revolution based on Greg Laurie's book. It was also when Contemporary Christian Music began, with Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel (mild style with more focus on scripture), and Lonnie Frisbee's Vineyard (wilder).

Here are reasons I could come up with:

  • I'm not against Christian music made contemporary; but I am against ONLY using CCM. CCM, unlike hymns, does not stand the test of time and therefore is lesser as a whole when compared to the greater hymns. There certainly could be hymns of lesser quality, but there are even more CCM of lesser quality. CCM often fails in discerning emphasis between God and self-centeredness, entertainment and joy, individualistic or congregational, normative or regulative principles, objective or subjective. Since music is the deepest expression of emotion, one should be incredibly careful in choice of music used in corporate worship. Knowledge of music theory is compulsory. Pursuit of such is more crucial than mastery of it, but certainly NOT the ignorance of it. E and I only discussed this point because she couldn't move on from it. The fact that we sometimes had to edit out a whole chunk of ooo's and aaa's and lalala's should have given some hint as to the nature of the composition. We decided to agree to disagree peacefully with her falsely calling me "over analyzing", yet it was not just mine, but Nadia's highly lack of analyzing intuition, that lead to our decision in such, especially when Nadia couldn't stand seeing me complaining about the low quality CCM we often play and realizing how big the qualitative difference it is when she heard me played some classicals after practising the last piece of those CCM in frustration. Those classicals were medicine to these low value CCM. I had persuaded E. to not use the plain lyrics but the actual music sheet to sing in order to not only be able to follow the pianist properly but to improve in music reading. Hopefully she would keep doing so. I should check from time to time.
  • Creative differences. When CCM differences are only subjective and not objective, or cultural, that should be fine with me. Although, one must discern where the line is drawn between objectivity and subjectivity, regardless of cultural influences. This disagreement is of lesser importance than the complete ignorance of musical theory.
  • No real violin parts. The music which E chose, which were all CCM, do not really have a unique violin part. I basically played the singer's lead sheet, which is really just the main melody, unless I improvise my own, which would be rather time consuming. So in a way, it's either too easy or too hard. Too easy because I am playing as a singer, there's no harmony; too hard because I would have to figure out the harmony myself, fillers when the singers are at rest, etc. And I would be the one ending up with the burden of composing the CCM.

I should now have learned to not be hasty when something like this happens. I should have told E. that I would wait and observe what music she would choose and sing. It was fine letting them know what instruments I play, but it was not wise to agree so quickly to play with them. For that I apologized to her.

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