Sunday, October 5, 2008

COLUMN: WORD + SOUND = POWER?

COLUMN: WORD + SOUND = POWER?


When you listen to Reggae Music, especially Reggae Music created by Rasta artists, the phrase "Word, Sound and Power" will not be that unfamiliar to you.

And of course, ten different people will give ten different explanations as to what it exactly means. There are people who see a sort of magical formula described, others will use it as an argument in their opinion that you can't make DUB music that has some "power".

Obviously, I personally do not agree that when you are a conscious artist, when you have something to say, that you always have to do this with spoken or sung words in music. I have been releasing DUB tracks without lyrics for years now, and so that opinion should be self-evident as these musical works express this statement musically.

Fair enough, there's titles and track descriptions which reveal some things about these works. But Dub music without words will appeal to a different part of the brain than a lyrical track, because of the symbolic language in the music that has to be recognized and translated. In fact, that's one of the challenges in producing DUB Music.

The symbolical language that I "speak" in my Dub tunes, is open for different interpretations as the symbols will not always translate to the symbolical language of the listener. It's also not spelled-out like a lyric would do, and so one of the challenges of producing Dub music that way is to create music that will also appeal to the "symbolical illiterates", if you will allow me to use that term without any intention of disrespect from my side.

So in the same time, I do recognize the truth in the phrase. Words are needed in order to communicate a certain message. It is not for nothing, that our Lord God and Saviour Yesus Kristos calls Himself "The Word Of JAH" (John 1:1).

Throughout the years, my work as an artist has shown to be not limited to the discipline of making music. As you are reading this, for you it will be obvious that I am referring to the fact that I write. I write even more than producing music. And writing has everything to do with... indeed, Word!

These two go hand in hand, as they both express a certain feeling or thought I have during this development we call "life". But not necessarily.

It is possible, to check my musical works without ever reading one word of my articles and books. In the same time, it is possible to read my books and articles and don't check my music. I know this, because I receive feedback from people of both "groups".

But in order to fully check my work as an artist, it's not enough to just check the Word or to just check the Sound. Allow me to explain this with a brief example of a few years ago.

In 2005, I released an MP3 album with DUB music that did not have lyrics coming with them. Many of the titles and even track descriptions were kind of vague and open for different interpretation which was exactly the intention of the project. Everyone would have their own ideas about it, even when they didn't use the "key" I provided.

The title track "Skunk In The Room", was more or less a giveaway. Usually I make up my own titles, but this one was actually a quote. Or even better, a name.

A name given to me by someone who could not appreciate my writings about a commercial mixture of caricatures of Reggae, Rasta and Christianity, called Christafarianism. And so this person referred to me as a "skunk" in order to express the fact that I was making her kind of feeling uncomfortable with my words.

Those who checked my Word as well as my Sound, would already have the key. They would know, that I had just published a book about this all, and that I was in the middle of writing a second book about the same subject. They would know all about the "Skunk In the Room", too.

In the same time, "Skunk In The Room" could very well be interpreted as "having a little bit of marijuana in the house". The music would definitely suggest such a thing, and so did the picture that came with the track. If you wouldn't know about the things that I was writing about in that time, you would not have known what it was all about.

Without the Word, you would have heard the Sound, but you would not have discovered the "Power". And even with both Word and Sound, it's still not so that the Power will arrive automatically. For many will not even recognize the Power, when they are confronted with the Word and the Sound.

Which leads me to the title of this column.

I admit and confess, it's not really the accurate rendering of the phrase. For it is not the Word and Sound that makes the Power, even though it is often seen as such.

The phrase goes: Word, Sound and Power!

These three things go together. Threegether, you could say.

For in order to check out my work as an artist, it's not even enough to check out the Word and the Sound only. The Word and the Sound mean nothing, when they do not have the Power.

Just what is that Power, then? Surely it's not the energy needed to run a computer in order to upload material to the Internet. Surely it's not the Power as in "authority" either, even though it is.

But it's not my Power at all.

I don't have any Power. I could know everything there is to know, I could make Reggae Music and write in-depth articles about a wide variety of subjects and I could even be right in the things I say, but there would be no Power at all.

In my interpretation of Word Sound and Power as a description of my work as a musician and a writer/reviewer, I see the Power described in the words of my Lord God and Saviour, Who called Himself the Word.

He said: "Unto Me is given ALL POWER, in Heaven and on Earth".

So what are my words, what is my music, without that Power? Asking the question, is answering it.

That is the Power I discovered after I released my first tracks on MP3.com and they turned out to continually dominate the Reggae Download Charts for years in a row. That is the Power I discovered when I found out, how certain writings of me were used by JAH to help others forward in their quest for the truth.

It is not my Power, no not at all. I can't, won't, wouldn't ever try to even think about that.

And it's definitely not limited to my work as an artist, either. For my works reflect my life, and my life is in the Hands of He that has all power, in heaven and on earth.

But still, so many times we feel like we have to produce the Word and the Sound, our works if you will, in order to get that Power. It's true for artists, it's true for everyone!

I'm nobody special. The Power is special, though. But everyone can reach the Source of the Power.

That Power is the Holy Spirit of JAH Himself. And the Holy Spirit is a Comforter, a Helper, when we do what Jah wants us to do. And that is, in my opinion, the key.

I could make music, write articles, just for myself. I would never get any Power, even though I might think I do. But it is in obeying JAH Word and Sound, that the Power will manifest.

For it truly is JAH Himself, that gives Power. It's not a Power that we can direct, not even a Power we can "use" deliberately. It is a sovereign move of the Almighty Himself, Who uses us for His glory.

Let us be open vessels for Yesus Kristos, so that He can fill us with His Holy Spirit. Let us pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, so that He can use us for His Word, His Sound, and His Power!

Amen, and Selah.

(march 2007)

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