Definitions

Religious music

Religious music

Religious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.

A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived some inspiration from their religions. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions' purposes or descended from religious music. Johann Sebastian Bach, considered one of the most important and influential European classical music composers, wrote most of his music for the Lutheran church. Religious music often changes to fit the times; Contemporary Christian music, for example, uses idioms from various secular popular music styles but with religious lyrics. Gospel music has always done this, for example incorporating funk, and continues to do so.

Monotheism and tonality, all tones relating and resolving to a tonic, are often associated, and the textures of European homophony, equated with monotheism, may be contrasted with Asian heterophony, equated with poly or pantheism. Navajo music's cyclic song and song-group forms mirrors the cyclic nature of their deities such as Changing Woman.

Religions

Christian music

There is virtually no record of the earliest music of the Christian church except a few New Testament fragments of what are probably hymns. Some of these fragments are still sung as hymns today in the Orthodox Church, including "Awake, awake O sleeper" on the occasion of someone's baptism. Another early hymn is the Phos Hilaron which was part of the Liturgy of the Hours morning prayers (matins) in the early Christian Church. It is a hymn describing the morning light. Being Jewish, Jesus and his disciples would most likely have sung the psalms from memory. However, the repertoire of ordinary people was larger than it is today, so they probably knew other songs too. Early Christians continued to sing the psalms much as they were sung in the synagogues in the first century. Modern artists include Tim Hughes and Matt Redman.

Hindu music

Kirtan originated in the Hindu bhakti tradition as loving songs sung to God.

Sikh music

Kirtan is one of the pillars of Sikhism and in that context refers to the singing of the sacred hymns from the Guru Guru Granth Sahib Sahib to music. Sikhs place huge value on this type of singing and a Sikh is duty bound to listen and/or sing Guru-kirtan as frequently as possible. Sikhs also have 'Dhadi Varaan' which use the Dhad sarangi to sing about Sikh history.

Jewish music

The earliest synagogal music was based on the same system as that in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Talmud, Joshua ben Hananiah, who had served in the sanctuary Levitical choir, told how the choristers went to the synagogue from the orchestra by the altar (Talmud, Suk. 53a), and so participated in both services.

Sephardic music, the music of Spanish Jews, was born in medieval Spain, with cancioneros being performed at the royal courts. Since then, it has picked up influences from across Spain, Morocco, Argentina, Turkey, Greece and various popular tunes from Spain and further abroad. There are three types of Sephardic songs — topical and entertainment songs, romance songs and spiritual or ceremonial songs. Lyrics can be in several languages, including Hebrew for religious songs and Ladino.

Rastafarian music

See also Rastafarian#Music

Nyabinghi music is the most integral form of Rastafarian music. It is played at worship ceremonies called grounations, which including drumming, chanting and dancing along with prayer and smoking of ritual ganja. Nyabinghi probably comes from an East African movement from the 1850s to the 1950s that was led by women who militarily opposed European imperialism. This form of nyabinghi was centered around Muhumusa, a healing woman from Uganda who organized resistance against German colonialists. The British later led efforts against nyabinghi,and classifying it as witchcraft through the Witchcraft Ordinance of 1912. In Jamaica, nyabinghi was appropriated for similar anti-colonial efforts, and is often danced to invoke the power of Jah against an oppressor. The connection between the religion and various kinds of music has become well-known due to the international fame of musicians like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Afro-Caribbean music

Rastafarian music is not the only kind of religious music in the Caribbean. Religious sects have their own musical styles, though they vary from island to island. Obeah and Myal as well as Christian sects associated with revivalism are common in Jamaica. These styles have also influenced Jamaican dances. Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Haiti in particular have also developed African-influenced musical styles that are used in religious rituals associated with Santeria, Vodou, and Espiritismo.

Shintō music

Shintō music (神楽) is ceremonial music for Shinto (神道) which is the native religion of Japan. It is related to Gagaku (雅楽) or old festival music. Taiko has also been used.

See also

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