I am a singer. Nature provided me with physical characteristics that produce sounds that can be pleasing to the human ear. People tell me I sing wonderfully. Over the years I finally learned to accept praise. I tell them what I truly believe. I am only a conduit through which the music moves. I enjoy singing. It is freeing in a way that I cannot describe with words. I have heard athletes describe the state of mind they are in when they are playing at their peak. It is much the same for me, and other musicians I have spoken with about the state of mind we are in while performing. If you think about it, you mess it up. I cannot try to sing the music. I must 'turn off' my conscious mind, and allow the music to flow. (longer post on just this subject later)

I have had NonTheistic beliefs or at least thoughts since I was 15. That was 28 years ago. Growing up in a musical household, my mother was the church organist, my father plays the guitar, I learned to read music and words all at the same time. The first music I sang was Christian hymns. Even as a young child, it was my favorite part of the service. I just remember being bored a lot during service, other than the singing. I usually took a nap during the sermon.

During my 40 years of singing, most of the works I have performed have been religious in nature. There have also been many secular works as well, however the majority have been Christian in nature. I could choose not to perform them. However, I would never want to miss out on an opportunity to perform what I consider to be some of the most beautiful music ever written. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Faure, anytime I have an opportunity to perform this music, I am there. For me, it is about the music, not the words. Yes, the words can paint wonderful visual imagery, as in Pie Jesu, from Faure's Requiem. The words can also paint images of dark dread and despair as in Dies Irae, from Mozart's Requiem.

For me, it is about the music. The sounds that are created, the overtones, the way certain venues can fill up with sound and echo around in a specific way to create sympathetic sounds, and even more overtones. The music is transformed into something tactile. It takes genius to write music that can have these effects. Would I skip performing music like this because it is religious in nature. Not for one second.

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Comment by Gargoyle65 on June 15, 2009 at 7:32pm
Cliff, I have many favorite Christian hymns as well! I have learned to see them for what they are, testaments to the undying human spirit. Yes, they are usually wrapped up in Christian symbolism, but for many of the composers, this was their only outlet. I like the fact that you change the words around. I wonder if some of the composers would have done the same given the chance. Change is possible, a little at a time. I heard a pastor say a long time ago, by the inch its a cinch, by the yard is hard. see there are some things to be learned in church ;-) However, most of it I can do without. especially the fire and brimstone crap. nothing like trying to scare people to god.
Comment by Gargoyle65 on June 15, 2009 at 7:27pm
Thanks for your comments Shanika! A number of years ago, I stopped doing so many solos and focused more on group work. Of course I don't turn down solos if they are 'offered' :-) I can understand your not wanting to be a hypocrite in 'rousing' the people. I can't be like the Catholic priests who deliver Mass each week, knowing in their hearts they don't believe what they say. I would, and do, continue to sing in community groups. I find them great fun, and have met some wonderful people there, and some fellow nontheists as well. Not that I am advocating 'church', but have you investigated the local Unitarian Universalist Church? I went for several years before my work schedule interfered. You will find many agnostic and atheists there who love to sing. There are alternatives to Christian gatherings to give your voice a place to be free!! Don't bottle your talent up!! Let it out!!!

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