Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



good and evil, moral power of music, social ethics, personal ethics


A balanced and informed approach to the topic must take into account the dynamic character of the musical experience. Musical meaning cannot be attached to isolated elements of the musical language, such as an instrument, a chord, a melody, or a rhythmic pattern. Those elements are neutral in themselves. However, music does affect us strongly when it acquires meaning within an event, an experience. When melodies, chords, rhythms, and harmonies are combined together, they are given a specific meaning within a particular cultural setting and are, then, interpreted as happy or sad, elevating or debasing.


Paper presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, New Orleans, LA, November 19, 2009

First Department


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