Folk instruments and music in worship
December 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm #27588
Garrett’s video on the dulcimer in worship got me to pondering today. Hope my ‘ponderings’ generate some conversation.
Surely not to dismiss the virtuosity and ground-breaking creativity that comes from folk and roots players, my thoughts were that folk instruments and the normal informal folk spaces of small gatherings, house churches and home worship provide a very accessible setting for more people to enjoy leading, playing and worshipping God together.
Many of the instruments lend themselves to be easily obtainable and playable, at a simple level, without years of practice and lessons. At a simple level, folk instruments are meant to accompany or harmonize with common people singing songs about life and that creates a wonderful, relaxed place for our heartfelt communal worship to be expressed to God. Rather than just one of this and one of that, folk instruments seem to gather in many’s, in a very invitational way. People play ‘together’ with melodys and accompaniment roles constantly and graciously swapping back and forth.
While folk instruments can be found in places of bright lights and todo they find their most savored place when played amongst gatherings of friends and family who enjoy the shared sounds of each others lives.
So my conjecture is, for someone like me anyways, folk instruments and folk/roots music seems to create a place conducive to deep and moving times of worship. Whether it is the very sound, the accessibily of the instruments or songs, or the heart of the gathered people, it is where I am usually most deeply moved in worship times.
I play other instruments and styles but folk seems to where I am most stirred. Why is that?
Any thoughts from others?February 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm #34640
Again, sorry for the delayed response. I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that, “folk instruments and folk/roots music seems to create a place conducive to deep and moving times of worship.” I agree that these instruments create a sense of community whether played in a small group or large group setting. I have a theory that this occurs because these instruments carry a story with them. Each instrument has its own story, yet when played together they carry a story that sings out community within hardship and celebration.
The banjo tells the story of the African American Slave coming to the Americas by force and seeking freedom in God and receiving it physically and yet still seeking equality. The acoustic guitar sings out the song of the Spanish settlers in the new world. The mandolin tells the story of Italian immigrants. I could go on and on. As the modern instruments we utilize today continue to write their story they too may have something to say as we utilize them in worship. I don’t know that they’ll carry the communal story that these folk instruments tell.
So when we connect our story to the redemptive story through song, I hope that we realize that the instruments we use have their own stories. When we play these instruments we connect all these stories to His Story. That is what I think may be happening when we do folk/roots worship.
Just my thought,
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