“Why limit your observations to one genre”?
Reader TE asks:
I don’t understand why you limit your observations to one genre of music. It would seem that the more general, vague lyrics found in today’s AC Christian music allow for an even more personalized constuct of meaning and it happens to a larger audience numerically.
A good point. Two reasons why I limit my observations to sg. One, it’s what I know. I can’t comment with anything more than cursory knowledge of AC Christian music and its audiences and cultures.
But beyond that, I think there is a case to be made - indeed, I’m interested in making it - that the ways people identify with gospel music is different from the ways people may identify with CCM because sg is musically, stylistically distinct from CCM. Both have vague lyrics (though the vagaries are in some key places different in important ways), but CCM and AC Christian largely apes, adopts, and replicates pop, rock, and other secular mainstream styles. Indeed, that’s one of the main points of CCM. Thus “contemporary.” If there is a similar “transcutural” identification with CCM as what I’ve described with sg, the difference may be that in CCM fans are drawn to the ambiguities created primarily not by the lyrics but by the use of contemporary musical styles. Remember, the reason anyone would mistake a “Jesus is my boyfriend” song for a generic pop or rock love song has at least as much to do with the secular-mainstream sound of the score and instrumentation and arrangement as it does with the lyric. No one would ever think a masculine pronoun without a clear antecedent in a McKameys song might actually refer to Ruben Bean.
Which is to say, in addition to interpretively flexible lyrics, gospel music adapts any outside stylistic traditions it draws from to conform to certain elastic but nevertheless conventional expectations about harmony, blend, and presentation. And it’s that unique combination of certain lyrical styles merged with certain types of conventional harmony and presentation that, I’m suggesting, accounts for the identifications sg gives rise to among vastly diverse listeners.
I’d be happy for a student of CCM to round out or complicate the thinking here, but it won’t - because it can’t - be me.Email this Post