Music

Music

by Nate Richardson, editor@richardsonstudies.com

“A man may be judged by his standard of entertainment as easily as by the standard of his work.” ― Ben Shapiro

  1. Music Philosophy
  2. Music Playlists
  3. Favorite Musicians

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1. Music Philosophy:

We will consider the following:

-“approved music”

-how to chose music

-a firm prophetic warning

-God’s mercy and flexibility

I love music! Songs can help us express emotions of joy and love. They can help us process through emotions of depression despair or rage. They can help us heal, endure, and understand. They can help us be brave and push through trials valiantly. They bring needed relief to muster faith to keep going and enjoy the journey. I also adore the power of music to bring people together. Truly the mass availability of music today is one of the great blessings and greatest tests of our faith of our time.

On “approved” music: I once asked a friend what kind of music they like. Their response was puzzling, that they only like “Church approved music”. Well, I too don’t want to listen to music that would offend God, but there’s actually no “church approved music list.” One thing to think about however, is that Elder Richard G Scott taught that if we only read or participate in church made things, we will be living a life less rich and happy than what God intended. Further, President Spencer W Kimball believed that many of the great authors etc. can be viewed as “miniature prophets” whom have much to offer to humanity despite their not being in the church. May we be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” without being “commanded in all things”.

Because music is so powerful to influence either for good or evil, I suggest listening to planned music which you have screened beforehand rather than random radio, or listening to anything just because it is by a certain musician, or of a certain genre or era.

On how to choose music: We can enjoy or at least tolerate various genres of music while rejecting evil which enters into those genres. There are good and bad songs in about every genre. This being said, certain genres musicians and eras are more dangerous than others. I do not advise listening to music which swears, has blatant or suggestive themes of violence, drug use, sexuality, or which mocks Jesus Christ and his teachings. If a song makes you feel evil or tempts you to set aside any of God’s commandments and councils, get away from it.  Do not spend time with music that preaches false gospels of entitlement, lust, selfishness, or other damning character traits.

Beware devotion to musicians. Of my favorite musicians here, I usually don’t endorse all of their music or personal character. As an old saying goes, “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”. In other words, we can appreciate people’s good art, and we set aside their bad art, all the while not categorically exalting or condemning them or their music. Not everyone has the fullness of the gospel and sometimes they aren’t as blessed with spiritual guidance as a result. It may be wise to avoid musicians, genres, etc., where bad is often found.

While it’s true that we can support good music from an artist or genre which has lots of other music which isn’t good, it can become like dumpster diving for food. We look for scraps of tasty nutritious fresh food in these questionable venues, but we can’t very well stay clean during the search! Not only is the search dangerous, but at the end of the day, there isn’t much there to be found! Most of what you find there is garbage, and what looks good there usually isn’t! There are much better places to look for food! There are buffets overflowing with wonderful foods if we can but escape the alluring attraction of the baited hooks of Lucifer, our enemy. Even if bad music makes us temporarily feel pleasure, that pleasure will suck the life out of us, and we will have damned ourselves to a state of depravity where the doors once open for joyous exploration and exquisite participation in uplifting music have become shut. If you have indulged in evil music, you’re only hope is to call upon Jesus Christ to free you from the bad thinking patterns which that music has infected you with. Remember always that there is so much wholesome music that we don’t need to bother with the evil!

A Firm Prophetic Warning: President Boyd K Packer of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles said this in a 2008 address titled “Lehi’s Dream and You” where he speaks of entertainment standards: “You live in a time of war, the spiritual war that will never end. War itself now dominates the affairs of mankind. Your world at war has lost its innocence. There is nothing, however crude or unworthy, that is not deemed acceptable for movies or plays or music or conversation. The world seems to be turned upside down (see 2 Peter 2:1–22). Formality, respect for authority, dignity, and nobility are mocked. Modesty and neatness yield to slouchiness and shabbiness in dress and grooming. The rules of honesty and integrity and basic morality are now ignored. Conversation is laced with profanity. You see that in art and literature, in drama and entertainment. Instead of being refined, they become coarse (see 1 Timothy 4:1–32 Timothy 3:1–9). You have decisions almost every day as to whether you will follow those trends. You have many tests ahead. … Largely because of television, instead of looking over into that spacious building, we are, in effect, living inside of it. That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building. You will be safe if you look like and groom like and act like an ordinary Latter-day Saint … The mist of darkness will cover you at times so much that you will not be able to see your way even a short distance ahead. You will not be able to see clearly. But you can feel your way. With the gift of the Holy Ghost, you can feel your way ahead through life.”

This means that we must be very careful of supporting groups with dress, language, behavior, and lyrics which are contrary to church standards. This doesn’t mean we can only support church members or church sponsored programs, but it means we must avoid extremes and the common indecency all around which is now accepted as normal.

His emphasis on feeling means that in the end our choices are between ourselves and God. I’m confident that God will not tolerate an excuse of “but no one told me that was bad.” He will judge us based on not only what we did about what we knew, but what we did about how we felt. But this does not mean that we can listen to garbage and say “I felt fine about it.” As Elder Oaks taught, there are 2 lines of communication: the priesthood line and the personal line. If our personal line (our feeling) tells us something is okay, but the priesthood line (our priesthood leaders, especially the Apostles) say that something is not okay, we had better not do it. Our choices must always be kept within the bounds which the Lord has set. President Packer, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, has said some things in the above paragraph that shed great light to the realm of choices in the field of entertainment, if we will receive it.

President Ezra Taft Benson in an address titled Satan’s Thrust given December 1971 gave this specific warning against rock music, which we could also apply to dangerous genres such as punk and metal which are based in rebellion and rage: “It has been well said that “there comes a time when the general defilement of a society becomes so great that the rising generation is put under undue pressure and cannot be said to have a fair choice between the Way of Light and the Way of Darkness.” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon,1957.) …The devil-inspired destructive forces are present in our literature, in our art, in the movies, on the radio, in our dress, in our dances, on the TV screen, and even in our modern, so-called popular music. Satan uses many tools to weaken and destroy the home and family and especially our young people. Today, as never before, it seems the devil’s thrust is directed at our youth. A letter from a concerned father about the evil effects of some popular music is one of many. I quote from this well-informed teacher of youth:

(Benson continues to site this letter:) “Music creates atmosphere. Atmosphere creates environment. Environment influences behavior. What are the mechanics of this process? Rhythm is the most physical element in music. It is the only element in music that can exist in bodily movement without benefit of sound. A mind dulled by drugs or alcohol can still respond to the beat. Loudness adds to muddling the mind. Sound magnified to the threshold of pain is of such physical violence as to block the higher processes of thought and reason. (And turning down the volume of this destructive music does not remove the other evils.) … Repetition to the extreme is another primitive rock device. …Gyrations, a twin to rock rhythm, are such that even clean hands and a pure heart cannot misinterpret their insinuations  Darkness [and dimmed lights] is another facet of the rock scene. It is a black mass that deadens the conscience in a mask of anonymity. Identity lost in darkness shrinks from the normal feelings of responsibility. Strobe lights split the darkness in blinding shafts that reduce resistance like the lights of an interrogator’s third degree or the swinging pendulum of the hypnotist who would control your behavior. …The whole psychedelic design [this father continues] is a swinging door to drugs, sex, rebellion, and Godlessness. Combined with the screaming obscenities of the lyrics, this mesmerizing music has borne the fruit of filth. Leaders of the rock society readily proclaim their degeneracy. …And the most diabolical deceit of this infamy is that it denies evil to be an absolute. Our religion is one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy of the ‘liberal Mormons.’ We cannot safely rationalize away righteousness. “What could be more misguided than fear that ‘if rock music were not endorsed by our leaders, we may lose many young people.’ (MIA music committee.) Even now we are losing them to the songs of Satan, drugs, sex, riot, and apostasy. We could be well reminded by a message from the Mormon Miracle pageant: ‘Moroni knew that you cannot compromise with evil. If you do, evil always wins.’” (Richard Nibley, excerpts from letter.)

Continuing the Benson article: “The hedonist, who proclaims “Do your thing,” who lives for sinful, so-called pleasure, is never happy. Behind his mask of mock gaiety lurks the inevitable tragedy of eternal death. Haunted by its black shadow, he trades the useful, happy life for the bleak forgetfulness of drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock.”

In closing, I bring you one more idea. I often speak to people who don’t believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ is near. The reason they usually give me for this belief is their belief that the world isn’t bad enough yet. I suggest that one of the grand deceptions of the Devil is that he desensitizes us to evil, so we don’t even realize it is all around us.

“‘Vice is a monster of so frightful mien As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.” (Alexander Pope)

On God’s Mercy and Flexibility: While God is unchanging and “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance”, he is still compassionate. He knows our hearts, and sometimes our way of praising him or expressing ourselves is a bit strange, but it’s ok so long as we are fixed upon Jesus Christ being the central figure in our lives, and we pay close attention to our feelings and the words of the prophets. God isn’t an old grouch. He has a sense of humor. He likes to relate with us. He likes culture and custom so long as such is not promoting evil ideas and attitudes. God is happy, and wants you to be happy. We have reviewed some of the strict expectations and standards of the Lord, but this does not mean that you can’t find great joy while going through your trials in this life. God loves the free will offerings we bring to him. God loves all nations, and the cultures in each have uplifting forms of music which can be help us in the quest to “let your soul delight in fatness” (Jacob 9:51).

If you think I’m calling for you to be prudish and shallow in your music choices to avoid evil, you have much to learn. This being said however, I will note that sometimes, a Christian life involves setting aside things we enjoy so we can pursue higher causes. Like the fat man who somewhat enjoys his unhealthy food as it draws him toward disability and death, so can we leave the culture of unwholesome music and learn to love the good and the increased life that will come with it. For an article I wrote on how we’re not all expected to be the same, and are allowed personality and taste etc., see this article The God of Individualized Contracts. In that article I also treat the subject that we are all of varying ability and background, and that all God expects of us is our best, even if our best looks different than someone else’s. God loads all the mercy and understanding available into our contracts!

The good is out there, you just have to have the faith to find it. Finding takes faith. Do not disqualify yourself from having the Holy Ghost aid you in your search by lowering your standards. Be patient as you won’t find it all at once. Our passions must be bridled as we wait upon the Lord to lead us to ‘green pastures’, and we fix our hope on the scriptural promise that if we let the Lord be our shepherd, no want shall we know, and our cups will run ‘or. As Elder Maxwell puts it, our hearts will be “brim with joy” as we thus consecrate our lives to the Master.

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2. Playlists: 

(*In suggesting these playlists, I do not endorse every musician featured. Some musicians only have one or two good songs, and those are often featured in my playlists. Recall that I suggest avoiding musicians who are not of a reasonably decent character.)

For music playlists I’ve built, use this google drive link. 

Playlists found in the above link: 50’s, 80’s, Abuse, Addiction, Adoption, Angel, Apostacy, Arabian, Attachment, Born Again, Brave New World, Breakup, Career, Celtic, Celtic Instrumental, Celtic Joy, Chastity, Children, Choral, Christ, Christmas, Clarinet, Classical, Confess, Country, Courage, Dance, Dating, Death, Depression, Destiny, Down No More, Down Once More, Dream, Drums, Duet, Epic Score, Eric Whitacre, Exaltation, Faith, Family, Forgive, Friend, Gender Roles, Grateful, Guitar, Heal, Hebrew Music, Holy Ghost Home, Hope, Humility, Identity, India, Indie, Joseph Smith, Joy, Judgement, Leadership, Mental Illness, Miracle, Missionary, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Musicals, Parenting, Peace, Persecution, Poor, Prayer, Pre-mortality, Repent, Resurrection, Rock Selections, Romance, Sabbath Delight, Sacrifice, Soprano, Spanish, Speak/Transparency/Confess, Stay Awake, Stay Awake Intensity, Suicide, Technology/Media, Tenor, Victory in Christ, Violin, War, Work, Wow (favorites), Wow Plus, Wow Max


3. Favorite Musicians:

(*In suggesting the following musicians, I am not implying that all of their material is good and useful. I am implying that I have found joy in good music from these artists. I’ve also tried to only include groups whose character is reasonably noble.)

I’ve categorized my favorite musicians into these following genres: Choral; Celtic/Folk; Electronic/Dance; Alternative; Operatic Soprano; Operatic Tenor; Electronic Instrumental; 80’s (Late 20th Century); 50’s (Early 20th Century); Musicals; World/Foreign; Country; Film Score; Classical

Choral:

TCATS (The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square)

Rob Gardner

Eric Whitacre

Anuna

BYU Singers

Anonymous 4

Libera

Celtic/Folk:

Connie Dover

Celtic Angels

Celtic Woman

Mediaeval Baebes

Eileen Ivers

Cherish the Ladies

Cathie Ryan

Celtic Tenors

Enya

Anuna

Eurielle

Electronic/Dance/Reggae:

Eifel 65

Owl City

Maccabeats

Macintosh Braun

Ace of Base

Michael Jackson

Alex Boye

Moby

Stick Figure

Alternative:

Mindy Glenhill

A Fine Frenzy

Jack Johnson

Coldplay

Foo Fighters

Audioslave

Goo Goo Dolls

Third Eye Blind

Jimmy Eat World

Smashing Pumpkins

The Temper Trap

Owl City

Operatic Soprano:

Hayley Westerna

Chloe

Giorgia Fumanti

Jacki Evancho

Charlotte Church

Josh Groban

Katherine Jenkins

Susan Boyle

Eurielle

(more on playlist doc)

Operatic Tenor:

-Brian Stokes Mitchel

Electronic Instrumental:

Angel Vivaldi

Scale the Summit

E.S. Posthumus

Quemists

Future World Music

 

80’s:

Depeche Mode

U2

The Cars

Tears for Fears

Genesis / Phil Collins

The Police

Seal

 

50’s:

Louis Armstrong

Doris Day

Jane Powell

Howard Keel

Dean Martin

 

Musicals:

-Phantom of the Opera (and the sequel “Love Never Dies”) by Andrew Lloyd Webber

-Broadway: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

-Broadway: Tarzan

-Les Mesrables original recording and film soundtrack

-Man of La Mancha

 

 

World/Foreign:

Shereya Goshal (Indian)

Sachin Jigar (Indian)

  1. R. Rahman (Indian)

Ari Goldwag (Hebrew)

Maccabeats (Hebrew)

Aish (Hebrew)

 

Country:

Joey+Rory

George Jones

Johnny Cash

Carrie Underwood

Garth Smith

 

Film Score:

(see also “Musicals” above)

-Lord of the Rings by Hans Zimmer

-Batman Begins series by Hans Zimmer

-Pirates of the Carribean series

-Mission Impossible series

-Finding Nemo

 

Classical: (hard to go wrong here! This is my favorite genre. So here is a list taken from an article of the best 100 classical composers by digitaldreamdoor.com):

  1. Ludwig Van Beethoven – 1770-1827
    2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – 1756-1791
    3. Johann Sebastian Bach – 1685-1750
    4. Richard Wagner – 1813-1883
    5. Joseph Haydn – 1732-1809
    6. Johannes Brahms – 1833-1897
    7. Franz Schubert – 1797-1828
    8. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky – 1840-1893
    9. George Frideric Handel – 1685-1759
    10. Igor Stravinsky – 1882-1971
    11. Robert Schumann – 1810-1856
    12. Frederic Chopin – 1810-1849
    13. Felix Mendelssohn – 1809-1847
    14. Claude Debussy – 1862-1918
    15. Franz Liszt – 1811-1886
    16. Antonin Dvorak – 1841-1904
    17. Giuseppe Verdi – 1813-1901
    18. Gustav Mahler – 1860-1911
    19. Antonio Vivaldi – 1678-1741
    20. Richard Strauss – 1864-1949
    21. Serge Prokofiev – 1891-1953
    22. Dmitri Shostakovich – 1906-1975
    23. Béla Bartók – 1881-1945
    24. Hector Berlioz – 1803-1869
    25. Anton Bruckner – 1824-1896
    26. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina – 1525-1594
    27. Claudio Monteverdi – 1567-1643
    28. Jean Sibelius – 1865-1957
    29. Maurice Ravel – 1875-1937
    30. Ralph Vaughan Williams – 1872-1958
    31. Modest Mussorgsky – 1839-1881
    32. Giacomo Puccini – 1858-1924
    33. Henry Purcell – 1659-1695
    34. Gioacchino Rossini – 1792-1868
    35. Edward Elgar – 1857-1934
    36. Sergei Rachmaninoff – 1873-1943
    37. Camille Saint-Saëns – 1835-1921
    38. Josquin Des Prez – c.1440-1521
    39. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – 1844-1908
    40. Carl Maria von Weber – 1786-1826
    41. Jean-Philippe Rameau – 1683-1764
    42. Jean-Baptiste Lully – 1632-1687
    43. Gabriel Fauré – 1845-1924
    44. Edvard Grieg – 1843-1907
    45. Christoph Willibald Gluck – 1714-1787
    46. Arnold Schoenberg – 1874-1951
    47. Charles Ives – 1874-1954
    48. Paul Hindemith – 1895-1963
    49. Olivier Messiaen – 1908-1992
    50. Aaron Copland – 1900-1990
    51. Francois Couperin – 1668-1733
    52. William Byrd – 1539-1623
    53. Erik Satie – 1866-1925
    54. Benjamin Britten – 1913-1976
    55. Bedrick Smetana – 1824-1884
    56. César Franck – 1822-1890
    57. Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin – 1872-1915
    58. Georges Bizet – 1838-1875
    59. Domenico Scarlatti – 1685-1757
    60. Georg Philipp Telemann – 1681-1767
    61. Anton Webern – 1883-1945
    62. Roland de Lassus – 1532-1594
    63. George Gershwin – 1898-1937
    64. Gaetano Donizetti – 1797-1848
    65. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – 1714-1788
    66. Archangelo Corelli – 1653-1713
    67. Thomas Tallis – 1505-1585
    68. Johann Strauss II – 1825-1899
    69. Leos Janácek – 1854-1928
    70. Guillaume de Machaut – 1300-1377
    71. Alban Berg – 1885-1935
    72. Alexander Borodin – 1833-1887
    73. Vincenzo Bellini – 1801-1835
    74. Charles Gounod – 1818-1893
    75. Jules Massenet – 1842-1912
    76. Francis Poulenc – 1899-1963
    77. Giovanni Gabrieli – 1554-1612
    78. Pérotin – 1160-1225
    79. Heinrich Schütz – 1585-1672
    80. John Cage – 1912-1992
    81. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi – 1710-1736
    82. John Dowland – 1563-1626
    83. Gustav Holst – 1874-1934
    84. Dietrich Buxtehude – 1637-1707
    85. Ottorino Respighi – 1879-1936
    86. Guillaume Dufay – 1400-1474
    87. Hugo Wolf – 1860-1903
    88. Carl Nielsen – 1865-1931
    89. William Walton – 1902-1983
    90. Darius Milhaud – 1892-1974
    91. Orlando Gibbons – 1583-1625
    92. Giacomo Meyerbeer – 1791-1864
    93. Samuel Barber – 1910-1981
    94. Tomás Luis de Victoria – 1549-1611
    95. Léonin – 1135-1201
    96. Manuel de Falla – 1876-1946
    97. Hildegard von Bingen – 1098-1179
    98. Mikhail Glinka – 1804-1857
    99. Alexander Glazunov – 1865-1936
    100. Don Carlo Gesualdo – 1566-1613