The World Changers #3 – The Overarching Think Tank


The bullet whizzed right past his ear, and also by the ear of the soldier sitting across from him.  They both saw each other’s eyes open wide.  The driver was in a hurry to get their jeep out of there.  This was not an infantry unit, but part of a team of the Forward Air Traffic mission that set up airfields in remote regions of Vietnam guiding a steady stream of aircraft during the Vietnam War.  We were pleased to have this gentleman and his wife present, keeping our attention with his personal eyewitness accounts of service in that foreign land.  Living history is spellbinding.  We owe such a debt of gratitude to our servicemen the world over.

On a lighter note (segue?), I mentioned to one of our professors about a posting by my daughter on Facebook, which read:  “Friends don’t let friends clap on 1 and 3.”  The two of us shared much laughter while the others wondered what was so funny.  This phenomenon, of which the average person is unaware, can be witnessed in any setting where music is performed and the audience, or congregation, claps along.  It happens all the time.  Now for the plain unvarnished truth; most people clap wrong.  Yes wrong.  Not all of the time, mind you, but most of the time.  And they go on with their wrong clapping, having a grand old time, while experienced musicians in their midst suffer.

To clarify briefly, most “clappable” music is based on a four beat measure.  That is, four beats keep repeating over and over again throughout the song.  One can clap on every beat, which everyone does correctly, or, most often, clap on every other beat which most everyone does incorrectly.  Every other beat would then fall on either 1 and 3, or, on 2 and 4.  To clap on 1 and 3 is wrong.  Clapping on 2 and 4 is the only socially acceptable, and musical, option.  Now if we can sing, “I’ve got rhythm, I’ve got music,” then why do we clap wrong?  Someone right now is thinking “why is it wrong anyway?”  Others are thinking, “who cares.”

To explain the intricacies of the difference would take a whole article (which I seem to be doing), and I’m not sure there is a clear, definitive answer, just many theories, many of which are silly.  Pat is getting good at clapping correctly but confessed that if it wasn’t for the drummer she may not.  Ask the drummer, he may be the key.  So next time, don’t embarrass yourself by clapping on 1 and 3, show your sophistication by doing 2 and 4.  And if you don’t know the difference, just keep singing heartily out of tune, and don’t worry about it.

Well, how about more music?  It doesn’t help that two of us had spent a lifetime in music.  The former discussion led to critiques of past and current church music, which admittedly is biased because all of us members are hopelessly mature in our experience, professionalism, and common sense (the red line click suggested “haplessly,” which may be more accurate).  As you may suspect the discussion was hymns vs. current day popular church music.

Some of the consensus was that hymnology is without a doubt more accurate in theology and depth of conviction.  The majority of modern “praise and worship” music is demonstrably trite in lyric and musicality, and often non-Biblical.  That last item is not surprising since increasingly Christians do not read or study the Bible as evidenced by frequent polls.  I viewed a panel discussion on which one attributed a badly paraphrased Biblical quote to Paul, which actually belonged to Jesus.  Others on the panel, two or three professed Christians, made no comment and let it pass.  I assume they didn’t know the difference.

One particularly offensive line in a song sung at our church contains the phrase, “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.”  For some reason I just have a hard time believing that there is any spiritual inspiration to write that line, let alone a scriptural basis.  If I want to be obscure, secretive, mysterious, or any other term for hiding meaning I can do it.  It just simply falls under the heading that beauty or meaning is in the eye or mind of the beholder.  It doesn’t have to have any meaning that makes normal sense.  It means whatever you want it to mean, which is the definition of New Age Christianity.

And lastly, there was an interesting term brought up, that being, Fugue.  When a trained musician thinks of fugue, Bach usually comes to mind.  His collection of preludes and fugues titled, “The Well Tempered Clavier,” is an historical musical classic.  A fugue is a musical form of structuring a composition that follows a pretty clear pattern.

A less well known definition of fugue comes from psychology, and describes an amnesic state where one leaves (runs away from) home and assumes a new identity, living a new life until he/she “snaps” out of whatever mental state they happened to slip into.  The literal definition of fugue is, “flight,” which fits the psychological meaning better than the musical.  I wonder how many musicians, who have actually written a fugue (which is difficult to do) have also experienced a psychological fugue?  Music or madness, is that the question?





  1. I did not know there were two definitions of fugue. Learn something new every day! It’s especially nice when I get to learn it from you though Granddad. 🙂

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