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Cultural superiority

polyphony2Quentin Faulkner makes the following assertion about polyphony and the western musical tradition:

Polyphony is often cited as the major distinction of Western European art music. The development of complex formal structures could also be singled out for this honor. The attitude toward music that lies behind these accomplishments is, however, a more fundamentally distinctive and decisive characteristic of Western art music: music has a profound intellectual dimension; it speaks to the mind as well as the emotions. No other culture has nurtured such a deep ingress of music into the domain of the intellect. . . . It is not an accident that music’s intellectual component began to recede simultaneously with the retreat of the church’s hegemony. Viewed against the background of primitive music and the music of other cultures, Christian art music appears as something unnatural, “artificial”–a glorious aberration that has left an indelible impress on all Western art music following it, up to and including the present.1

Faulkner’s comparison between western music and “primitive music and the music of other cultures” may smack of western cultural superiority to some. But is that a bad thing?

It is important to notice the relationship he highlights between the music produced by the western tradition (polyphony specifically and “complex formal structures” more broadly) and “the attitude toward music that lies behind these accomplishments.”

In other words, Faulkner is arguing that music practice flows from music philosophy, and since the music philosophy of the medieval West is, in his opinion, superior to that of other cultures, so is the music it produced. In fact, Faulkner would go so far as to say that the music philosophy of the medieval West is more compatible with biblical Christianity than that of other cultures, and thus this is why what they produced is superior.

Since culture is an externalization of values, and since some values are (from a Christian perspective) superior to other values, it follows that certain cultural expressions that flow from superior values would also be superior.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is on faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He has written two books, dozens of articles, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and two children.



Endnotes:

  1. Wiser Than Despair, 150-51. []

42 Responses to Cultural superiority

  1. Kaitlyn says:

    I agree with both Faulkner’s and Dr. Aniol’s statements. I think one area of keeping a Christian wordvew includes freedom from relativism and responsibility to seek truth. While our culture would say it is elitist and small-minded to declare that Western music practice is superior to other practices, Scripture instructs believers to evaluate music and all areas of life in keeping with God’s Word. Since much of Western music was founded on God’s beauty and order as established in the cosmos, I am willing to argue that it is superior to other styles of music which are not founded on God’s created order.

  2. Ben Little says:

    This is going to be a hard line to discuss simply because the belief in cultural superiority very easily can turn to racism of sorts. Now, I’m not just throwing down the proverbial “race card.” I’m just wary of where this conversation could go and think we should proceed cautiously.

    Since cultural value can be guided by the Holy Spirit and used for the glory of God, I do not see that one culture has superiority in worship. While some values are ripe with sinful and fleshly nature, surely these cannot be used to glorify God. However, this nature permeates all cultures along with ideals that can be used. If we are to use any specific culture, we would have to look theologically at all cultures and use the practices and values that best line up with God’s Word. I do not see, however, that a specific culture could have a monopoly on these values.

    To complete the above quote about primitive music, Faulkner states, “viewed against the background of primitive music and the music of other cultures, Christian art music appears as something unnatural, ‘artificial’ – a glorious aberration that has left an indelible impress on all Western art music following it, to and including the present” (151). This “artificial” quality of music brings music into the realm of the intellect. I do believe that worship should be intelligent expression of emotions. However, it should not be confined solely to intellect or emotion.

  3. Sze Wing Ho says:

    Music plays an important role in the formation of any culture. The western culture, however, has a more comprehensive study in music philosophy.
    In many cultures, the development of music is always far behind the development of intellectual thoughts or we can say that music is intentionally separated from intellectual development. As a result, music in non-western culture is seldom treated as a subject matter.
    In the western world, music developed along the lines of intellectual development. Intellectuals study music practices to provide evidences for the shift of peoples’ attitudes toward music. From a Christian perspective, I agree that the superiority of western culture comes from the superior value of Christianity; but I also believe that the western cultural superiority also comes from a group of intellectuals who treat music itself as a subject matter.

  4. John Gray says:

    It is an interesting idea. I do believe, because the Holy Spirit has regenerated me, that Christians have superior values. If one is filled by the Spirit they will show fruit. The art of a group of people will reflect who they are. Now does this make Christian music superior. I would argue yes when it is done in Spirit and truth. If the inner man is being led by the Spirit and the Word of God is being proclaimed, music is better. I do believe that any Christian music that fits this criteria is superior to music that does not. After the aforementioned criteria, most claims of superiority is based on ones opinion. If a Psalm tone is sung to the glory of God it is superior to a Oratorio being sung to the glory of man. If a rap is done to the glory of God (appropriate text, and heart) with a upward focus to him, it is far superior to a hymn being done to the glory of man. If God is glorified then man’s chief aim is fulfilled. May God be glorified in all that we do.

  5. Rick says:

    Who gets to set the rules for what is superior? What is it based on? The answer to these questions will determine whether it is an opinion or fact. I agree with John Gray that most claims of superiority are based on ones opinion.

  6. Eunji Oh says:

    God’s ultimate goal is to save and bring all nations to his truth. He does not restrict the way or manner of worshipping to certain cultural or traditional mean such as Western tradition. It is true, as Faulkner argues, that “music practice flows from music philosophy, and since the music philosophy of the medieval West is superior to that of other cultures, so is the music it produced.” As multicultural and multiethnical worship increases all over the world as foreign missions , it is important to hold a right theological foundation in philosophy of music within their unique cultural expression of aesthetics when it comes worship our true God. We have no right to say that cultural expression of illiterate tribe that flows from superior values (from Christian perspective) is inferior than intellectual European art music of Western tradition. Of course, sometimes it is difficult to evaluate whether it is wrong or right to adopt certain cultural pratices into worship that seems to be unusual in Western worship tradition, for instance, killing and cutting lamb in liturgical service during Passover as memorial service. The expression might differ from one to another culture. As Dr. Aniol states, “since culture is an externalization of values, and since some values are (from a Christian perspective) superior to other values, it follows that certain cultural expressions that flow from superior values would also be superior.”

  7. Jessica Wan says:

    My question resonates with Rick’s: on what standard is one using to judge that Western culture music as more superior than another?

    I disagree with this statement: “Since culture is an externalization of values, and since some values are (from a Christian perspective) superior to other values, it follows that certain cultural expressions that flow from superior values would also be superior.” I find the statement contradicts with Romans 2:14-16 (ESV): “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” There is common grace among those who may not have been exposed to Christianity; hence, it is inaccurate to say that Christianity is superior simply based on values because other cultures could also share similar values to that of Christianity.

  8. Brandon H. says:

    In this discussion, I think it is important to understand what Western culture, and other cultures we are comparing it to, was founded on. Like Kaitlin said, Western art music was founded on God’s beauty and order as established in the cosmos. With this we can gather that Western art music is in a way “superior” because of the intellectual dimensions (speaking to the mind and emotions). But do no other cultures have this element in their music? I do not know much about other music cultures so I would not know. It is still hard for me to agree that Western music is superior that all other cultures. Like Rick and John said, who sets the rules for what is superior? There is some aspect of opinion that plays into the equation.

  9. Wendy Ku says:

    I don’t think we should view culture in terms of superiority, The passage of Romans 1:18:21, especially v.20, has made it clear that God reveals himself through both special revelation (in Christ and Scripture) and natural revelation (in the creation). Since people of all cultures have the capacity to perceive God in the creation, they are inherently able, to some degree, to develop cultural expressions which reflects the attributes of the Creator and are in line with Christian values. In light of this fact, the cultures of those people are not inferior. Even Christendom, as we have discussed the positive and negative effects of it last week, was not all good culturally. Therefore, it is more appropriate to say that every culture creates both something good, those elements that display God’s works and attributes, and something bad, those aspects that fully exhibit human’s fallen nature.

  10. Vaden says:

    I agree with Faulkner and Aniol about thee fact of Christian music is superior. The Medieval West style of music was based off of core of God’s beauty and explaining the cosmos. This follows scripture by instructing us to evaluate music in every faucet in ones life. And this is what they did when creating the western style.

  11. Vaden says:

    John Gray I do agree that any music done for one’s glory isn’t better than any style of music done for God’s glory. But we need to broaden our views in the discussions and not pick at the little views we agree on but look at which style aligns more with why it was created to help us in our search of philosophies.

  12. ai-chin says:

    I do not agree that certain culture is superior than the other. Since culture is an externalization of value and value is very subjective.
    According to Oxford dictionary value “is a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life”; therefore, I dare to say that value is subjective. Different groups of people might value different things. For example, in Faulkner’s book mentions about Bali in Indonesia, where reflects thick culture. I did some research about Bali for my backpack trip so I have some understanding about Bali. Balinese culture is a culture that mixed of Hindu and Javanese. They highly value their culture. Especially their art–both visual art and performing art. You can see their arts are shown on from their building to their religious ceremony. Music is used on every religious ceremony. Looking purely from cultural perspective, Bali culture is superior. However, schooled Christians follow their culture. No. But Christians definitely follow their faithfulness.

  13. Jessie W says:

    While I believe that Faulkner and Aniol have good points in saying music of the Western culture is superior, I think we need to be careful as we discuss this argument. I agree that much of the music from the Western culture is composed on a foundation that kept in mind the beauty of God. However, not all western music brings God glory (many operas come into mind). I believe no matter what is the cultural foundation or genre, if it is Christian music it is automatically superior to any other music because it’s primary intent is to glorify God. Not every composition written for this purpose accomplishes this well but at least an attempt was made.

    I would like to back up my last statement with the fact that I am a big advocate of bringing our best to God because he deserves more than mediocre compositions and execution of music.

    In conclusion, I think it is dangerous to claim any culture as superior because I believe the bible is cross-cultural. Where we must intervene in other cultures is in the areas where biblical truth is definitely contradicted. Past this, there is a gray area that must be examined carefully.

  14. Jeri Tanner says:

    “Faulkner’s comparison between western music and “primitive music and the music of other cultures” may smack of western cultural superiority to some. But is that a bad thing?” I suspect it’s not, simply because any cultural superiority surely sprang from western reformation ideals. I’ve been thinking about this very thing in regard the necessity of congregational singing in an orderly, intelligent manner, a manner that will bear the weight of doctrinal truth. Scott, do you know how this fits in with how, say, the churches in China established by Hudson Taylor were taught to sing? Were they taught the same hymns (translated) as were sung in the west, and was it a successful endeavor?

  15. Jeri Tanner says:

    I realize I sort of sprang ahead from the article’s emphasis on polyphony and complex structures to the idea of western congregational singing—somehow it made sense in my head!

  16. Daniel Nu says:

    Wouldn’t it be a bit of ignorant or small-minded to state that certain cultural expression is superior to others? What are the standards? If we have this kind of superior mentality, there wouldn’t be any rooms for multicultural and multiethnic worship. Should we force tribal people in the foreign mission lands to adopt Western Church Music because it is superior? Apparently, that was what westerners did in the missionary fields, and it came with the colonization. It was a success to some extent. I agree with Wendy’s statement that we should not view culture in terms of superiority.

  17. Keji L. says:

    I do believe that there is no superiority between music development and music philosophy. In western culture, the music might came after the philosophy because of the superior value of Christianity. However, in many of the non-western cultures, music came first, is a nature to express oneself through music. They can go either way. I believe there is no superior between cultures, God created all humans, but since the fall, every cultures have both good and bad sides of their music.

  18. Grace Chang says:

    I agree with Faulkner that Christian value is superior than other values. I believe for some Christian mathematicians (like Newton) and music theorists (like J. S. Bach), they searched for the perfection in Mathematics and music because such perfection can prove or reflect God’s perfect creation. And such effort which was motivated by the faith in God, did provide great contributions or breakthrough to the world.

    I do agree that polyphony is a sophisticated theory and it is the most challenging texture in terms of composition. I also agree that polyphony represents the highest artistic value in Western music history since no one can write such highly sophisticated works as J.S. Bach did (which were based on the concept of polyphony).

    However, if “the music philosophy of the medieval West is more compatible with biblical Christianity than that of other cultures, and thus this is why what they produced is superior”, then how about Israelites? Israelites are the chosen people of God. Their culture, values and philosophy, including music, are based on Christian values. God actually commanded the laws for them. But they did not develop the music philosophy or practice or theory as medieval West did.

    I wonder if medieval West produced was superior than other cultures because their music philosophy was more compatible with biblical Christianity? So the other cultures are inferior because their music philosophies were less compatible with biblical Christianity? I think I need to know the definition of “superiority” in this statement in order to view or interpret this statement correctly.

    Actually this statement/comment reminded me the Chinese music history class when I was an undergraduate. I remember the professor always asked us why Chinese did not develop polyphony or instruments like piano and organ as the equal temperament was discovered by a Chinese in 1584, which was earlier than the Western world?

    In 1584, a Chinese Mathematician and music theorist, Chu Tsai-Yü provided an accurate mathematical calculation of the equal temperament in his work 「律學新說」 (Lü- xue-xin-shuo: “on the equal temperament” ). It is earlier than Simon Stevin,
    a Flemish mathematician, who mentioned the concept in his work, De Spiegheling der Singconst in 1585. Stevin did not figure out the accurate calculation of the equal temperament until Marin Mersenne, a French theologian, who described the ratio of the equally-tempered semitone in his work, Harmonie universelle, in 1636, which was the accurate calculation as Chu Tsai-Yu discovered in 1584.

    Certainly, Ancient Chinese did have great achievements in science, mathematics, medicine and other aspects. If superiority means advancement. Then China was “superior” than the Western world as she discovered the equal temperament, which was earlier than Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier in 1722. However, the Chinese philosophy and the development is very different from Western’s. She did not develop polyphony and have composers that composed music for the 24 keys, but she knew the theory.
    I think I should further develop my point in the second comment later.

  19. Jacqueline says:

    Christian music should contain what is biblically based. In today’s society, where there are various relative relations, it is really important to not to just narrow down to one opinion about the superiority, but rather wisely discern what superior sets in terms of biblical truth.

  20. Bora Kim says:

    In this article, I even agree in part with some parts of Faulkner’s saying. But, I disagree with Faulkner’s opinion that ““primitive music and the music of other cultures” may smack of western cultural superiority to some.” I wonder how he convinced that Western culture music is more superior than another.

  21. Yangji says:

    Well… then Hebrew music is the most superior music than other music? It is really western centered mind. I do not agree with falkner’s opinion.., His opinion is not different from Judaism…..

  22. Emily Ham says:

    In my opinion as a result of musical development through music history, western music has the most distinguish and distinctive history and it definitely has great value therefore we might say it has superior value than other cultures. But we cannot deny other cultural values that are so unique and valuable. It is so hard to compare to see superiority among different cultures.

    I think the most important thing to consider is weather the culture is rooted by the Holy Spirit or not. As we learned that what we call “culture” means ‘the way of life’, the “way” should be on a right path.

    For instance if Mexican music had Christian value at first place, we can say their musical culture is faithful in God’s eyes. We can say that any other culture from non-believer is not pleasing to God. But it’s just because they are not evangelized. That is why we Christians are up to evangelize all the nations so that all their culture can be used in a right way.

    Therefore I don’t want to define that only western music is superior one than other cultures. It’s hard to determine with one sentence because Western music’s development also brought negative consequences as well. Any other culture can be transformed by whom practices ‘that culture’ through Christian “way of life”.

  23. Kyu Lee says:

    We should not deny the fact that philosophy of music produced by the western tradition (polyphony specifically and “complex formal structure”) and “the attitude toward music”. Those components emerged into Church, became music philosophy of the medieval West. However, I do not agree the fact that the medieval West is more compatible with biblical Christianity than that of other cultures. It was not perfect but, God specifically used medieval western culture to spread the bible and the gospel of Christ. It was not a perfect philosophy of music and the doctrine of Christianity, but it was reflect who they were with Christian superior values.

    Music in the western culture started with intellectual perspectives of their life. Which music reached not only their emotions, also with the intellectual components of science. Simply music was not only the tools to deliver the emotions, became comprehensive result of music philosophy. However, personally agreeing with Faulkner, the intellectual components of music began to recede simultaneously with the retreat of the church’s hegemony.
    I believe that Christian cultural superiority and artistic values don’t come with our own theories and efforts if we don’t realize who we are in Christ. One of the excellences of Christ is that God became a man, and died on the cross for my sins and yours. With that value and fact will lead our songs and music into the truth. Yes, we need cultural superiority and artistic values but above all, Christ should be the center of our hearts, emotions and our minds.

  24. Jared Longoria says:

    Christian music has a superior purpose compared to other musics, but it is not superior in quality to other musics. The idea of a “superior” Christian purpose should not lead us to say that the music created in pursuit of that purpose leads to better music than that of other cultures. Our attempts at righteousness are still only acceptable based on faith in Christ’s atoning the death. The same with our musical styles and quality – they are only acceptable based on our faith in Christ.

    This argument seems strange – what is the purpose of trying to convince the world that medieval church music is superior to all other musics of all time? That faith in Christ makes our music better than yours? Not sure if that wins too many converts . . . And, today, is the music Christians create less acceptable to God than medieval church music? No, because God looks at the perfection of His son when He looks at us, not the quality of our music. It’s the faith of our offering that counts . . . even more, it’s the faithfulness of God that counts.

    Also, the “music of the spheres” is not even a biblical concept. It is Platonic philosophy. The idea is at best an inference from biblical examples of angelic singing, Zephaniah 3:17, Revelation 5, and the possibility that God’s “speaking” in Genesis 1-2 may have been singing. I, however, do not find there to be sufficient biblical evidence for a music philosophy of “the spheres.”

  25. John says:

    The question here becomes, is it necessary for every culture to have an advanced music compositional style? I use the word “advanced” instead of “superior” because I do not believe that an advanced culture is necessarily superior. I would assert that an advanced culture would have the obligation to create a more advanced music in order to engage the culture. A less advanced culture or “primitive” culture would not necessarily have the capabilities or the need to create advanced musical compositions. The idea of superiority might also bring a sense of entitlement to western civilization, and thus demean or belittle the primitive and their music-making. If we judge superiority by advancement then I think all would have to agree that western civilization is superior, but is this the only criteria in the scope of music for worship? I do not believe it is.

  26. Kyu Lee says:

    My another opinion is that God created in his image and gave unique talents and gifts (Roman 11:29).It is to glorify Him in their own culture. For instance, if a rapper became a Christian and he wants to rap for God with right theological context, God could use him to bring young people through that music.

  27. Ben Little says:

    Great points John Green! I would like to add to the thoughts that polyphony completely changed the definition of what was acceptable in music. Of the very intervals used in western culture, many were considered dissonant in platonic thought (ie. the 3rd). How then can it be argued that it the music of the medieval West “is more compatible with biblical Christianity than that of other cultures, and thus this is why what they produced is superior”? I again echo John in saying that advancement is not always to be considered superiority.

  28. Daniel La Nu says:

    In the article, it says,” music philosophy of Medieval West, according to Faulkner, is superior to that of other culture, so is the music produced”. Is the music itself superior in quality to other music or the superior purpose that makes the music? What I mean by superior purpose here is the purpose which has its base on the God’s beauty and order. So the question is, what if the Christian composers today have superior purpose and produce certain music, will it still be inferior in quality to that of polyphony or will it be even worth to compare? Is there such thing as a superior Christian music? Just curious.

  29. Kaitlyn says:

    Daniel, I like your questions. I think you’re wondering about two questions that seem separate but might have similar ansers when you ask about the purpose adn the quality fo the music. I think the purpose is what directs the quality, so there is probably going to be a result that’s similar to polyphony if you’re purpose is exemplifying god’s order and beauty. At the same time there is of course goign to be a lot of room for variety, as is also reflected in creation. Thanks for your questions though; they make me ponder these things more too!

  30. Keji L. says:

    I agree with “Christian music has a superior purpose compared to other musics, but it is not superior in quality to other musics.” The sound is part of God’s creation but music itself is God’s gift and since the fall, all human’s products are tainted. Thus, there is no superior in quality to other musics.

  31. Emily Ham says:

    I like John’s point that he used the word “advanced” instead of superior. It is undeniable that the development of ‘polyphony’ brought great “advance” to Western Music History, and it even turned up to define what we call today, music theory. But music in other countries also had their own advances and changes. I think Western Music History is emphasized more over the world because of the economic development and international power is centered in the West.

  32. Bora Kim says:

    I agree with Emily’s (first) opinion that people cannot deny various unique and valuable cultural values. Comparing superiority among different cultures might be uncertain. Therefore, it is too careful to conclude that western music is superior to other cultures. I also think that the significant point is the Holy Spirit’s work. When the Holy Spirit works, an inferior culture can be changed to superior thing. In other words, other cultures can be used better tools.

  33. ai-chin says:

    One day we were at Dr. Wyrtzen’s class and he asked us Asian students, “Why do many Asians play western music so well and Asian Christians are singing western worship music?” A student: “Many Asian worship western culture. There is the reason many Asians sing and play western music.” I agree with this A student. Today many Asians are worshiping western culture. Why? The reason is, since many centuries ago, western culture has already begun to make known their culture and sharing their inventions with the world. Two of the reasons, I think that they are able to do this are financial ability and their generosity. They do not keep things to themselves; unlike most Asian cultures have not financial ability and they tend to keep everything to themselves. (This is just my personal opinion). Because of this reason western culture is thought by many is superior.
    However, my point is there is really no superiority in culture. It is all depends on how you promote yourself.
    I would like to end this with what Dr. Wyrtzen said. “Where did Jesus come from?” Students: “Asia”. Hope you get the joke.

  34. Jared Longoria says:

    I was mistaken in my first response. “Music of the spheres” is a theory coming out of medieval music philosophy, not a or the philosophy itself. So, it was a mistake for me to reject the underlying philosophy on account of an extra-biblical theory that flowed out of it.

    In class, Dr. Aniol helped me gain perspective on all of this again. The ethicality/morality of music lies in its ability to communicate through subjective universals. Using Makujina’s analogy, this subjective-universal quality of music can be best likened to facial and body language. So, music is like adding a smile, a frown, or a puffing out of the chest, etc, to the semantic language (if there is any) of our congregational songs. So, getting back to statement made in the penultimate paragraph of this post, are we talking about the superiority of, to be overly simple, the “smile” of Medieval music? Because, to me, much of the “body language” of medieval polyphony is quite unclear – it is indeed grave and, thus, seemingly stoic and unreadable. In my estimation, the “universal-subjective” quality of much modern music is very clear and, as a result, more easily deemed appropriate or inappropriate for congregational song.

  35. John says:

    I would like to piggy-back onto Jessie’s comment about bringing our best to God. I believe that if given a gift you have the obligation to hone that gift in order to bring Glory to God. The opportunity to excel and learn more about music is quite accessible in the US so there is little excuse for striving for advancement. That opportunity is less likely in other countries where there might not be as advanced.

  36. Jessica Wan says:

    When Faulkner used polyphony to signify the major distinction of Western European art music because of its complex structures, it makes me wonder: does it truly signify culture superiority?

    I am thinking of the people listening and being exposed to polyphony; could they hear all the individual lines at the same time? Truthfully, I think I could probably only follow the head motive in when the voice enters and the rest just sounds like tones coming together. I am sure I am not the only one who cannot hear all the individuals lines in a polyphonic work, which also makes wonder: does polyphony make Western European art music superior because it’s a complex composition or because it requires one to spend much time wrestling before they reach a full understanding?

  37. John Gray says:

    Great question Danial. If we are speaking about everything that is called Christian music, then some is better then others. Some, so called, Christian music carries bad theology, and some is meatless. A Biblical song is better then a song with bad theology, and a meaty song is always better then a meatless song. If we are only speaking of the music, then I would argue the only way to answer this question is running it through our subjectivity (preference and God gifted aural skills). If our view of music is ran through our world view, religion, philosophy, theory, and practice, we will find that the big debate occurs mainly in the theory. If we believe that music should be based on scripture and point to the Godhead, then the question is theoretical. In ones theory does this genre point to the Godhead or not.

  38. Sze Wing Ho says:

    I agree that the Christian culture did play an important role to maintain the superiority of western music. Not only because of the Christian values that embedded in the music, but also because of the widespread power of humanism from Renaissance to the twentieth century. Music can fit into the context of Renaissance humanism, secular humanism, and religious humanism. Music is the evident of the ancient culture. It is also a tool for people to express complicated emotions. Last but not least, music also has strong connection with religious ritual. Christianity embraces the three kinds of humanism along the history, thus the western culture/music dominates the world.

  39. Brandon H. says:

    Jessica in response to your post, I don’t think what Faulker was saying that Western music is superior because it has polyphony, but rather polyphony is a product or result of a superior curlutre. When you make this distinciton, you can then analyze whether the result of polophony is a true sign of musical suerperiority. I believe it is.

  40. Youjin Lee says:

    If Faulker asserts that Western culture is superior than others, it is wrong. It is not a Western culture which should be considered of as superior, but Christian culture. I am not sure if I can use the term ‘culture’ with Christianity. However, as a believer, I think that human culture is based on distorted interpretation of the original form from God. Human culture is too wick to stand completely since all humans are sinful. Thus, nothing can be superior than others among different cultures.

  41. Grace Chang says:

    Continuing with my first comment, I think I need to know the definition of “superiority” in the below statement in order to view or interpret this statement correctly.

    “The music philosophy of the medieval West is more compatible with biblical Christianity than that of other cultures, and thus this is why what they produced is superior”. If superiority means advancement in this statement, then I think different cultures have their own advancement in different periods. They have their own philosophies and cultures and achieved certain level of advancement, but they did not need to be like the West.

    If superiority means more compatible with biblical Christianity, then I wonder if
    Israelites are more compatible with biblical Christianity than medieval West? If so,then why they did not develop the music philosophy or practice or theory as medieval West did? And if the music of Israelities is also superior than that of other cultures?

  42. Wendy Ku says:

    “The attitude toward music that lies behind” contributed to the development of complex formal structures of polyphony, and this attitude is that “music speaks to the mind as well as the emotions.” This statement points out that the philosophy and theological belief in music is the key factor regarding music making, and the class today also corresponded to this idea. So when we examine a culture, it is important to discern what philosophical thoughts lie behind. I think we need to develop this kind of awareness in knowing and examining different cultures that we encounter; it will enhance our communication with people from non-Christian culture. In addition, if we carefully look at our current Christian culture this way, we might find that some thoughts and values behind certain practices are no longer Christian!

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