Monthly Archives: July 2006

Forewarning, I might be on the planning committee, but I wasn’t
involved in the planning of any of the worships or celebrations, and
got to experience them as an audience member, for the most part.

In my understanding, misappropriation comes into play when you have
one group that is taking an idea, words, theme, and using them
outside the context of the original, or in a way that is inauthentic.

When it comes to music, there is a 3rd culture that has been
increasingly involved in appropriation/misappropriation in our
worship services: The Culture of Music.

It is, and has been through the development of culture itself, the
culture of music to take themes, ideas, lyrics, melodies, even whole
pieces, and to use them in the creation of something that may, or may
not, reflect the original. In fact, once one hears a new type of music, one will never hear other music quite the same way again. Music is infectious in this way, changing the way we view the world, with each note and cadence.

How many different versions of songs can we find in Singing the
Living Tradition, in the hymnals of other religions? Is it wrong to
sing “Forward Through the Ages” as opposed to “Onward, Christian
Soldiers”, both of which are to the tune St. Gertrude, which was
likely co-opted from local folk who may not have been Christian at
the time, by missionaries?

Which melody is appropriate to use with “Nearer My God to Thee”? The
Irish folk song version of Pictish origin, or the Scottish of Celtic?

“The Green Hills of Tyrol”, an old melody of Gaulish origin, which
showed up in the William Tell Overture, was adapted by a marching
band from Sardinia, and then to the Great Highland Bagpipe by Pipe
Major John MacLeod in 1854, and finally had lyrics added in WWI
becoming a lament for soldiers lost.

The Culture of Music is based in appropriation itself, with an intent
of sharing what has been gathered and learned over time with the
cultures that those who carry music from one place to another. This
is going to make music one of, if not the hardest, aspect of
misappropriation to unpack. What is misappropriation to you and me in
a worship service, is a wholly anticipated and accepted form of
appropriation to the musicians.

Acknowledgment of the history of the music helps, and yet there was no acknowledgment made of the privilege we have to perform music, and to take music from other cultures where it means something more than what we can take out of performing it.
UUA Trustee, Tamara Payne-Alex

There are 2 very different halves there. The first is that we have a privilege to perform music. Personally, I see the RIGHT to perform music as one that behooves us as UUs to support. We have this privilege because we’ve spilt blood to ensure it, and that “we” is an encompassing one for all those who claim this country as their own.

The 2nd half is the privilege to take music from other cultures … Which is where we run smack dab into the problem of the Culture of Music again, and its appropriative nature.

This nature of appropriation that Musicians have, is one filled and built on respect, both for the other musicians and the cultures from whence they’ve come. If we as the GAPC are to continue to make music a integral part of GA, and if we are going to employ the services of the UUMN, we are going to start running into this same exact problem a LOT, because the musicians of the UUMN have been learned and bred in this culture of music, and see respect incarnate in the performance of these pieces.

As do I, but then again, I’m a musician.

Last night, I managed to take one group off My list of “People/Bands to see before they retire or die”. Tessie and Myself, along with our friend Brooke and Tessie’s parents and aunt, saw Chicago and Huey Lewis & The News. Chicago was good, but Huey was the draw for me. Oddly, it was opposite for Tessie, who has listened to much more Chicago than I have.

The show was awesome. Now, if someone has any Jimmy Buffet tickets, please share them.

Being on the Planning Committee, representing the CLF/CYF, and being a delegate was interesting, to say the least.

I have not have a brick and mortar congregation for 5 years, although there are 14 UU congregations within an hours drive of me. Conferences, General Assembly, committee meetings, and the CYF have been My spiritual home in that time. I think the Ingathering on Wednesday helped fill the other half of congregational life that the annual CLF worship does not: that being the social interaction between members. In some ways, it was like walking into church, and having Coffeehour before Service! It also let me put faces to other CLF members, whom I could then look for in the rest of the week, and is an event that I would emphatically encourage us to continue.

I made it to each Plenary session. You may have seen me as the lad in the purple shirt trying to keep track of time as everyone was speaking at the microphones, ringing that powerful little bell, and causing parlimentary unrest on Sunday evening. All in all, a positive experience, although I am concerned that the Statement of Conscience as passed was transformed into something other than an SoC. Extraordinarily lengthy and unwieldy, I think it’s the worst and best example of a document word-smithed by a committee, and why that is never a good idea.

The CLF Worship service was a wonder, as always. The preview we received of Sources has me chomping at the bit to witness the Cantata in whole, being debuted at GA in Portland, 2007.

I hear that said service has long been known for good preaching, and good music. Something has nagged at me for a while, and it’s been in the last day that I’ve been able to grasp it and shape the idea into words, which I’ll share here: The CLF Worship is very much a worship in the same vein as a Soulful Sundown, with less amplification. This idea is striking to me. What is it about the concepts/people of the CLF, and those of the Young Adult communities, that make them create such similar worship stylings, in isolation of each other? What is present or missing in a given group that brings out or suppresses the potential for worships to be engaging and dynamic as these we find in the CLF and YA communities? I think a deeper look into this could inform the way we look at “alternative” worship stylings.

Those are the insights that I had at GA this year that relate to me as a congregant and delegate, and I hope to continue to study these ideas in the future, and serve as a delegate again in the future.

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