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Which god, I wonder?

Hmm. Apparently, Donald Vroon thinks music is evidence of god, and he cites his emotional response to Easter music to back up his claim.

That’s right — a guy thinks that because his favorite music makes him burst into tears, his emotional experience is a sign that a god exists.

I can counter that, though. My son is home for the holidays, and I’ve been hearing a lot of death metal in the car and wafting down from the upstairs bedroom. I wonder if we threw Mr Vroon into the mosh pit at a Cradle of Filth concert, if he’d relate to the ecstatic experience of their fans? Would he burst into tears? What god would that demonstrate, I wonder?

moshpit
Rapture and ecstasy always indicate the presence of a deity, obviously.

Comments

  1. says

    @2…LOL. And I never LOL. But I LOL’d.

    If you really want an earworm, go to YouTube and find “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” performed by Gayla Peevy. Only the Gayla Peevy version will do.

    No. I will not link. I am not that cruel.

  2. Tony ∞The Queer Shoop∞ says

    @2:
    Lol indeed!
    ****
    @3:
    I recall hearing that song as a child.
    I slso remember “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”

  3. David Wilford says

    I believe that music is a happy byproduct of human evolution. I suppose that sometimes it can improve reproductive fitness – if you can sing as good as Elvis. Or an Elvis impersonator.

  4. Beatrice says

    I slso remember “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”

    I hate that song. It might be endearing if it wasn’t so bloody irritating.

  5. Rodney Nelson says

    I’m moved to tears by some of Bach’s devotional music. That hasn’t convinced me that gods exist.

  6. Beatrice says

    re. American Pie,

    The song, not the movie. The original by Don McLean, not Madonna or anyone else.

    I always forget to clarify that from the start.

  7. truthspeaker says

    David Wilford

    20 December 2012 at 2:42 pm (UTC -6)

    I believe that music is a happy byproduct of human evolution.

    I’ve often wondered if singing is a relic of hominid mimicking ability. I don’t know what to think about rhythm.

  8. fullyladenswallow says

    @12 Rodney:

    Yes, I concur. Give me a Vaughn Williams Mass or Bach’s Cantata #4 any day.

  9. Chuck says

    “Holly Jolly Christmas” is proof that the little mustached snowman on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” exists.

  10. crowepps says

    Annoying circular reasoning — surrending to the experience of emotionally stirring music makes me ecstatic, and *my culture instructs* this is a spiritual experience, therefore God. If ones culture instructed that this was evidence people were being possessed by demons, or were witches, would that mean it was true? I don’t think so.

  11. fullyladenswallow says

    Well, heck. Why stop with music? How about fragrances? I used to buy a brand of spray disinfectant that had a wonderful fragrance that seemed to “take me places”. Would that count?

  12. mnb0 says

    Acc. to Usingreason I don’t have emotions as Tears in Heaven only annoys me. I have cried to the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique though.
    I wonder how Vroon reacts to Mussorgsky’s Night on a bare Mountain – more devilish than silly Cradle of Filth.

  13. anathema2 says

    I remember going on a long car ride with my father, my sister, and my brother when I was a child. My father, my sister, and I started singing “A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall” in order to pass the time. My little brother said it that we were being annoying when we were still in the 90s. By the time we arrived, there were a negative number of beers on the wall and my little brother was in tears, screaming how his ears hurt.

    I don’t think that I’ve ever seen music make anyone cry as hard as our rendition of “A Hundred Bottle of Beer on the Wall” made my little brother cry.

    If music making someone cry is evidence for a god, I have to assume that this god is a sadist whose rather fond of beer. Are there any gods that meet that those requirements? I feel that my knowledge of mythology is a bit lacking here.

  14. says

    Doug Little #9

    Well at least I know which gods Amon Amath are referring to.

    I, for one, take the existence of music as proof of the Ainur’s creation of Arda through song. All hail Eru Ilúvatar! (Wait, that was the god that Donald Vroon was referring to, right?)

  15. Rip Steakface says

    This is of course ignoring all the very pro-atheist/anti-religious music that exists. From Tim Minchin to a few Atheist songs (their topics tend to be more about environmentalism and philosophy, despite their name) to even a Metallica song (The God That Failed), there’s plenty of music that does not like god(s).

    Also, get your son to listen to some better death metal than Cradle of Filth, seriously. How about, for the holidays (not sure if you actually do Christmas – my family does despite being entirely atheist as a sort of solstice celebration), you buy him a Morbid Angel album?

  16. Scr... Archivist says

    Easter music? This is a thing?

    Okay, as long as all of the stores don’t start playing it around Presidents’ Day.

  17. Larry says

    What the heck is “easter music”? Music to raise the dead by? Other than Berlin’s Easter Parade, I don’t know of any songs devoted to easter. And even the lyrics of that song don’t even mention zombie jesus.

    I guess I must have missed out on easter caroling where people go house to house, singing traditional easter carols, to be rewarded by the residents with chocolate bunnies to nibble on. Damn!

  18. says

    I got busted singing “In Fernem Land” in the math office the other night. Swore the building was empty, but I was wrong. In this case, however, my colleague cried out, “There is no God!” (Honest. I’m not that bad! Good post-production inside my head really helps.)

  19. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Yes, I concur. Give me a Vaughn Williams Mass or Bach’s Cantata #4 any day.

    Vaughan Williams was an atheist, Fullyladenswallow.
    I’ve always thought people take up religion because they are toounspiritual to appreciate Bach. Personally, I go along with Housman:

    Malt does more than Milton can
    To justify God’s ways to man.

  20. barklikeadog says

    we suspect that anyone who persists in denying God is fighting his own inner conviction that there must be. And he may have good reasons for that, but he may also be blinded by a false faith in reason and/or science that fails to see how limited their vision is.

    This is absou-fucking-lootly true. Just like gays are denying their inner conviction that they are really hetero or a zebra is denying their inner conviction that they are really a horse.

  21. Gnumann+, nothing gnu under the sun (but the name sticks) says

    The devil is, of course, found in Mariah Carey and Westlife’s version of against all odds…

  22. Matt Penfold says

    The devil is, of course, found in Mariah Carey and Westlife’s version of against all odds…

    Or in Mariah Carey’s version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. I’m sure I am not alone in noticing that she fails to hit more than a few of the notes in her various renditions of that carol. Compare and contrast that with a version by the Choristers of King’s College, Cambridge which tend to move even me, a hardened, cynical and embittered atheist.

  23. consciousness razor says

    I’ve often wondered if singing is a relic of hominid mimicking ability. I don’t know what to think about rhythm.

    I don’t know about hominids, but if you model it for spherical cows, rhythm is just very slow pitch.

  24. says

    You had to know there’d be a metalhead along at some point to say ‘Cradle of Filth is not death metal!’

    It’s closest to black metal or symphonic black metal. I tend to just think of it as ‘Cradle of Filth music’, since it doesn’t neatly fit a genre.

    Sorry, but it’s kind of compulsory. ;-)

    (side note – typoed ‘Filth’ as ‘Flith’ and spell-check wanted to change it to ‘Faith’)

  25. RobertL says

    The only song that has moved me recently is “White wine in the sun” by Tim Minchin. Probably not what he had in mind.

  26. Juggling Violinist says

    What the heck is “easter music”? Music to raise the dead by? Other than Berlin’s Easter Parade, I don’t know of any songs devoted to easter. And even the lyrics of that song don’t even mention zombie jesus.

    I guess I must have missed out on easter caroling where people go house to house, singing traditional easter carols, to be rewarded by the residents with chocolate bunnies to nibble on. Damn!

    You’re joking, right? You know of Handel’s Messiah – the one that the Hallelujah chorus comes from? It was written for Easter services. Or any of Bach’s Passions? Or his Easter oratorio? Or Mahler’s Resurrection symphony? There’s a ton of great music that’s related to Easter, not least because the Catholic church was the principle patron of musicians for maybe half a millennium.

  27. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    …isn’t Cradle of Filth a Christian band? Or am I thinking of a different one?

  28. says

    @Juggling Violinist: Meh. I thought he was talking about “Easter music” in the same sense as I think of “Christmas music”, as traditional pop songs written mostly in the last few decades.

  29. bronwyncaveney says

    Cradle of Filth isn’t an xian band or a satanic band, and it’s not Death Metal. As someone said upthread, it’s Cradle of filth; they don’t fit into a neat category, and that’s fine by me. Speaking of being moved to tears, The Twisted Nails of Faith do that for me, from the Cruelty and The Beast album.

  30. fmitchell says

    The soundtrack of Doctor Who stirs my emotions. Therefore the Doctor exists.

    I also like the “Mermaids” track for Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. Mermaids must exist too.

    My enjoyment of Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings score is left as an exercise for the reader.

  31. barklikeadog says

    The only easter song I know goes something like this…

    “Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail, hippity hoppity easters on its way….

  32. robro says

    You want Easter music? Altogether now: The Easter Parade…pure American pop music corn, as sung by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland.

    I was quite moved by Repo Man, especially the music. Perhaps my god is a rotting corpse in the truck of a beat up 1964 Chevrolet Malibu, or four of them.

  33. robro says

    I’m fairly sure I heard Satan while listening to Johnny Mathis sing “Sleigh Ride” for the umpteenth time today. It’s pure evil.

    I for one would support a petition to ban the playing of Christmas music, new versions or old, popular or religious, in public places. Second hand Christmas music, whether it’s Bing, Johnny, or Frank, is enough to cause serious cognitive damage. It really must stop.

    The only Christmas song I would allow is “Santa Baby.” (“Santa” is “Satan” rearranged.”

  34. says

    @ Rip Steakface (#24):

    I signed up just to say this.

    From one metalhead to another: don’t be that guy.

    Seriously.

    Yes Cradle is a ridiculous fucking band and they’re not my favourite for sure, but damn man. Don’t go pissing on the fact that someone enjoys a band you don’t particularly like, we have enough elitists being dicks about good and bad, true and fake metal. Let’s just all listen to the music we love, have some beers and fucking headbang already, forget all the other bullshit.

  35. slowdjinn says

    #31

    Malt does more than Milton can
    To justify God’s ways to man.

    Or, as Tom Waits put it

    Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil,
    That’s just God when he’s drunk

  36. thecalmone says

    @14 truthseeker – Yes, I’ve wondered about rhythm myself. As a (semi-professional) percussionist and engineer I have always appreciated the mathematical aspects of music and acoustics (huge overlap between physics and music) and have often thought that the human mind simply enjoys hearing patterns and variations on patterns – and I think that there is nothing more to it than that. We just dress it up as culture and spirituality. None of which takes anything away from the pleasure of playing and listening to music.

  37. Agent Silversmith, Honey Powered says

    Well I guess Eric Clapton is God then, Tears in Heaven should make anyone cry; anyone with emotions.

    I get choked up if I can’t push the off button.

  38. says

    Two things:

    1) Cradle of Filth aren’t death metal. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    2) *I* am very moved by the music Wagner–specifically the Ring cycle, which is about pagan legends and the Norse gods. What can we extrapolate from this?

  39. says

    Sorry, Mr. Vroon, but I don’t believe in God because there’s no convincing evidence he’s out there, and the ideas of organised religion strike me as illogical.

  40. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    *I* am very moved by the music Wagner… What can we extrapolate from this?

    That you want to goosestep into Poland, Andrew.

  41. robindavies says

    As an amateur jazz musician, I’ve always said that “being in the pocket is as close to a religious experience as this old atheist is ever going to get.” For those who are not familiar with the term, “in the pocket” is a state where you feel like the music you’re playing comes through you rather that from you, It’s accompanied by a heighted state of awareness, and a sense of intimate connection with the people you’re playing with. Sense of self disappears. In many ways it matches the Buddhist description of “nibbana”. Clearly it’s an excstatic state.

    I don’t remotely pretend that it’s anything other than curious (and quite marvelous) phenomenon that provides insight into how we as animals are wired.

    As far as I can tell, the state seems to brought about in jazz musicians, by a requirement to short-circuit one of the self-critical feedback mechanisms in consciousness. By the time you decide what whether what you’re about to play is any good or not, it’s too late. So you have to just play in the moment, and let what you play flow through you without the normal editing process.

    I”ve seen various anecdotal evidence that the people enter similar states while performing other activities that require intense concentration, and rapid flexible response. Athletes describe similar states. Computer programmers talk about a “fugue” state where they produce code at a ferocious rate.

    But I’ve never been able to connect it with with ecstatic state associated with listening to music.

    Thought? Comment?

  42. DLC says

    Hm . . . songs evoke proof of deities ?
    Let’s see now. which god does this one validate?
    “The bodies in the back seat, generate steam heat, pulsating to the backbeat, blitzkrieg bop! “

  43. nullifidian says

    Donald Vroon is a racist, misogynist throwback whose head is stuck firmly in the 19th century, both aesthetically and socially. Or at least it’s stuck there when it’s not stuck up his rectum. He first flitted across my radar when he wrote a response to a letter objecting to an equally troglodytic review (by John Barker) of the music of Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. His final paragraph is worth quoting not only for its sexism and racism, but also for its slavish devotion to received wisdom:

    “We cannot rewrite the canon. All the great composers were white males, and no amount of research will change that (unless someone proves that Beethoven was a black female!). Nothing we have uncovered in the rush to find “women composers” has affected that in the least. This is reality; Mr. Harrington seems to be a victim of ideology.”

    This is “reality” indeed: “reality” is what some late 19th century musicologists with cultural blinders on said it is, and now Donald Vroon is here to make sure we don’t sully the great world of classical music by making our own considered judgments about this body of work.

    But this was just another salvo in his fight to make classical music a “NO GURLS ALLOWED” space. He also briefly hit the news in the mid-90s when he claimed that no woman or black person had ever written a great piece of classical music.

    He has thirty-two pages of rambling, self-absorbed bullshit on the American Record Guide site that makes Archie Bunker look like the late George McGovern. His section on Martin Luther King Jr. Day can’t be missed. In it he blames Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches for urban riots, as if there was nothing for black people to riot about in the mid-60s before King came along stirring up the ‘negroes’. He also blames white guilt for their embrace of black culture, which he calls “aspir[ing] downward”, and he singles out “black music” (presumably all of it) as “inferior”.

    So, all in all, it doesn’t surprise me that a reactionary fool who writes about classical music says foolish and reactionary things about classical music.

  44. crocodoc says

    Let’s be fair, music can teach you all you need to know about god. Examples:

    Exodus: Shroud of urine
    Motörhead: Orgasmatron
    Entombed: Out of hand
    Slayer: Cult
    Armored Saint: Left hook from right field
    King’s X: Lies in the sand
    Nuclear Assault: Hang the pope

  45. says

    I never got really into Cradle of Filth but I am pretty certain that discovering Blind Guardian had a lot to do with allowing me to finally let go of Catholicism completely. Not in any sort of intellectual way, I am just a sucker for the sort of grand, dense, medieval-y/mythic aesthetic and so I couldn’t entirely leave the Church behind for a while until I found something that inspired the same sort of cathedral-y feels. Which is, apparently, power metal about elves ‘n’ shit.

    I don’t go around saying Nightfall in Middle-Earth is proof that Elbereth exists, though. Maybe I should.

  46. Christopher says

    I”ve seen various anecdotal evidence that the people enter similar states while performing other activities that require intense concentration, and rapid flexible response. Athletes describe similar states. Computer programmers talk about a “fugue” state where they produce code at a ferocious rate.

    But I’ve never been able to connect it with with ecstatic state associated with listening to music.

    Thought? Comment?

    If there is something to study, there is probably already someone studying it :)

    You might want to check out Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s work on defining the state you desribed which he dubs the ‘Flow’

  47. says

    nullifidian: I wrote a paper on Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre once, and she is awesome. In her time she was considered even better than Couperin, and was patronized by the king himself. It was only later musicologists that forced her into obscurity for so long. I think you’re right, it looks like Donald Vroon is a racist misogynistic sack of shit.

  48. becca says

    Groups like Lesiem, eRa, Gregorian, Enigma (and, well, yeah, E Nomine) fill my desire for church-style music. And when I want something more mellow, there’s Trio Mediaeval and Medieval Baebes.

  49. markdowd says

    I cry listening to music from a Pokemon movie; specifically, “The Legend Comes to Life” from Pokemon: The Movie 2000.

    Somehow, I think they’d have a problem if I took to worshipping Lugia as a result.

  50. vaiyt says

    @77: I was listening to “Savior of The Slamming Jam”… should I start worshipping Charles Barkley?