Music is wildly diverse. People’s tastes affect music, cultural influences affect music, wars affect music, philosophy and worldviews affect music, and–what should have been obvious to me and probably is to others–architecture affects music. The combination musical notes that would sound good in a gothic cathedral are different than the combination of musical notes that would sound good in a auditorium. Musicians know this and are affected either consciously or unconsciously by the architecture they are envisioning their music will be played.
Historically, the music being written for the Church and her worship was written for churches with a specific architecture–or at the very least a limited range of architectural designs. This led to a certain kind of music being produced.
Today, our churches meet in all manner of locations: gothic buildings, cafeterias, gymnasiums, homes, auditoriums, outdoors, storefronts, and who knows where else. Thus, the Church’s music is being written for what would be suitable in the majority of churches: the cafegymnatorium. And, thus, our music has changed drastically. Depending on your particular view of what Church music should be, it has either improved or declined. I lean toward the latter, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I know now what at least one of the influences have been for this.
David Byrne, of the Talking Heads, explains in this TEDTalk.
(HT: Caleb Skogen for the video and the thoughts.)