Music and the Soul 

Audrey Branham

Assistant Faith Editor

Music is an integral part of our lives. As students, the music we listen to helps us study, relax, exercise, and worship. And while music generally has a positive impression on our mind and soul, there are times when both the power and danger of music are clearly shown. If you have been listening to the news, you might know what event I might be referring to. 

The Travis Scott Astroworld concert held earlier this month was a tragic and profound example of profit vs safety and the dangers of less-regulated crowd activity, but it is also a profound example of the impact music makes on not only our internal selves but even our environment and world.  

There were many nonreligious and nonspiritual people who attended the Travis Scott concert who later attested to some sort of spiritual activity or even oppression due to Travis Scott’s music, display, and attitude towards the safety of his fans.  

One of the witnesses recorded and posted a testimony of his experience online using adjectives such as “demonic”, and “living hell”. He said, “I’ve been so heavily influenced by Travis, but after tonight God really showed me, “stay away from that sh-, that ain’t for you,” because he sacrificed so many people’s lives tonight for real, so many people lost their lives tonight just because they wanted to go to a Travis Scott concert.” This concert not only brings up concerns about negative personal experiences of music but the true negative effect music has on one’s soul and spirit. 

Dr. Louima Lilite, the McGavern-Montgomery Professor of Music in Choral & Voice Studies, gives us some background of how music can be said to truly affect our souls.  

Dr. Lilite says that “amidst all their accomplishments and sayings, Plato and Aristotle took the time to chime in and comment on the incredible power music wields over human emotions. They called it the doctrine of ethos. And they were right. They are still very right. Music affects you and me.”  

Furthermore, Dr. Lilite says, “Yes, music is a serious contender that often irons out the kinks in our spiritual lives by preparing our hearts to receive precious needed truths. On the other hand, it is equally dangerous in promoting lies if the piece itself doesn’t emerge from a truthful place.”  

There are so many instances in our daily life where music is manipulated in order to manipulate people. Shops play nostalgic Christmas music in order to subtly push customers to buy their products, movies evoke emotions using specific sympathetic or fear-inducing music to change opinions on real-life controversies through their portrayal, and advertisements are more of a study of anthropologic association using music than it is of statistics.  

Berthold Auerbach once said, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Music is something that impresses our souls with conviction and hopes. It has the power to change our perspective, mood, and even our brain chemistry.  

It is for this reason that music therapy is shown to have concrete positive effects on patients experiencing difficult illnesses including chronic pain and anxiety disorders. With great power comes great responsibility, right? So how are modern musicians wielding this power? What responsibility is Travis Scott being burdened with? 

As Dr. Lilite said about the current state of the American music industry, “I would certainly prefer that all musicians seek holistic truth in the way they prepare and present music.  

Questions such as…What motivates me to write and share this piece of music? Are my mind, spirit, body, soul, and imagination fully working in a coherent and pragmatic way? Is what I am producing/presenting something that is contributing to genuine human flourishing? Is my worship leading something that promotes truth and a focus on Christ or something that promotes human aspirations and desires?”  

With the great power music carries with it, there is so just as much responsibility that should accompany it, especially for musicians who are given the attention and ear of the next generation.  

Dr. Lilite expresses this in his charge to the modern American music industry and every person given the gift and responsibility of creating music: “The above and more should be posed and answered by the musicians of our time because they’re leading a host of impressionable followers. May we all be true to our calling!” 

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