Thursday, November 21, 2013


Not As Funny As We Think

Todd Rhoades posts a video "proving" that your church's sound engineer is the most valuable employee in the church. The idea, of course, is that they balance the sound to mask the bad performers. We've all been there. Heck think Linda McCartney with Wings. I get the joke, But it did not amuse me.

For one thing, the church is allowed to say, "No thank you" to even enthusiastic volunteers. In point of fact, I think it could be argued that this sort of spotlighted approach to music (as opposed to the relative anonymity of a choir and the hiddenness of the organist, is going to attract people that want the spotlight. Hence there would have to be a LOT of "No thanks yous." In other words, you're kind asking for it.

Secondly, in newer building sound systems are mandatory - the acoustics of the building are such that sound simply does not carry. But I have seen these system crammed into buildings where engineers spent decades figuring out how to make the human voice reach the tiniest corner with perfect clarity. The systems are necessary becasue contemporary music is decidedly asymmetric. That is to say if it is not run through a system and balanced one instrument will sound too loud, and some (say an electric guitar) could not be heard at all. But in those older acoustically balanced buildings the effect of amplification, even for purposes of balance, is tinny and nasty unless extraordinarily expensive systems are installed, which they usually are not.

I wonder if anyone has considered the fact that to design such a, acoustically perfect building is an act of worship? That the use of the engineering and technical skill involved was done specifically to honor the Lord that granted the gift. I wonder if anyone has considered that to the override that whole system with sound pumped through amplifiers and mixing boards is to dump all over that wonderful gift from God? In the rush to worship God in a contemporary fashion, we dump all over the very legitimate worship of decades, sometimes centuries.

I wonder if people think about anything other than what they want?

Not so funny anymore, is it?


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