Truth in Music

Can there be truth in art/music? Truth in visual art cannot mean that it simply copies reality. That is an impossibility.  Even if that was an artist’s goal, there will always be something between the piece of art and the world it tries to copy. There can only be an interpretation of this reality on the canvas. So copying reality is not the way to have truth in art. I want my music to be true, so what is truth in art and music and how can my music contain it? 

Truth in music occurs when the music acts as a metaphor for reality: our fallen world sustained by God and our interaction with that world. Truth in music does not mean that it must be programmatic, just as for visual art to be true it does not need to simply copy reality.  I do, however, give myself the restraints of reality when composing.  Now, to reality belongs the imagination.  It is not only the things seen, but also the things not seen yet just as real.  Much of my music gives a sense of hope, which is looking to things unseen such as heaven or peace.  Yet, as much as I look forward to heaven and the time when all tears and pain are gone, I cannot opt out of the world and time in which I live. I cannot turn a blind eye to the dark realities of this life. For this reason, there is also a sense of brokenness in many works. Beauty and brokenness-these are the ends of reality. These two aspects are just as much connected as they are separate. I believe one is more powerful than the other, therefore they are not in equal opposition to each other. However, there is still a definite struggle happening between the two. And this struggle is true of individuals as well as the world as a whole. There is great complexity in reality. 

Take individuals for example: We have opposing natures within ourselves. We have fears and we have a sense of peace. We have sorrow and we have joy.  We have darkness in our hearts and we have beauty. We are fallen, yet made in the image of God. Our feelings come and go. Many individuals hold on to dreams unfulfilled, which produce sorrow. Yet the very fact that dreams even exist is a beautiful thing.  And this is just the subjective side. What about how we relate to things and events outside of ourselves? As humans, we do not exist for ourselves. We always exist in relation to others, and I would say also in relation to God. 

There is great complexity just in a single person’s heart and mind.  When I think of how all these complex individuals join together in an already chaotic world, I am amazed that more chaos does not exist.  Someone beautiful must be sustaining all of us. And I aim for my music to reflect this reality because I believe music that combines the objective and the subjective has the most power to reach people as individuals.