Well, as many of you know, I have well expressed my opinion that bluegrass, in general, is not worth listen to. To me, it sounds like a bunch of people who have been out on the ranch, belting out some tune they happened to put empty words with. I don't like the sound. I don't like lots of chromatics. I just don't like it. Does that mean it's bad? No. Yet, why in the world can you put a rockus beat to it, flash strobe-lights around, say it's bluegrass, and agree that it isn't bad? Why would you sing about Jesus, put a beat to it, call it bluegrass, and yet still agree that it's okay? Just because it's talking about Jesus? The words might not be bad if you read them, but when you drown out the words with music so that you can only vaguely hear the words "Jesus rocks" every so often, does that mean it's okay? Does that mean I think it's bad? Not necessarily. In fact, this is only my personal preference. So why am I making a big deal about it? Because I don't think people know what "bad music" is. So, what is bad music? I think that when trying to figure out what "bad music" is, there are several things you must take into account.
1. The culture-In our western culture, we're pretty tame as far as music goes. Ever heard of the missionaries who go to African countries, hear them playing their African drums, are shocked at what they're hearing, and immediately tell them that they must reform their taste of music?
It's cultural. There's absolutely no reason to force those Africans to stop playing those African drums and reform to our western taste of music unless if there's some demonic reason they're playing them.
2. A lot of what is good music and bad music has to do with what the culture thinks is good music and bad music. Using the example from before, if the Africans are playing what would be considered rock music in their country, chances are it wouldn't really be reverent to play for worship.
3. It has a lot to do with how you've grown up. If you've grown up around a classical-music-only group, chances are, you wouldn't think too highly of rock music. During worship, you most likely would feel uncomfortable with having a worship team. If anything, you would feel that you're being irreverent to God in playing such music during worship. On the other hand, if you've grown up around it, you aren't going to feel that you're doing God justice if you worship with hymns only.
4.It has a lot to do with what the words say vs. what the music says. For example, you could have some contemporary worship song that has basically good words (besides the fact that most of them say absolutely nothing), but it could have such loud, obnoxious music that you wouldn't even be able to hear the words. Does an offertory using the words from "Be Still My Soul" fit with rockus, loud music? Absolutely not. The words are calling you to be still and calm and to walk a life of faith, yet what is the music calling you to do? It's calling you to get riled up. The two don't match eachother; therefore, I don't personally see that this would be considered good music.
5. Having grown up with only listening to classical music, I kind of have the view that rock music is mostly associated with a worldly way of living. Of course this is a rather warped view considering there are perfectly sincere Christians who love their rock music. So what makes rock music so bad? One big reason is because most of the words aren't all that great. Also, the music really can cause you to get caught up emotionally in it. I don't know about you all, but I like to be pretty in control of myself. In worship, I don't personally believe that God is calling us to be hugely emotional. I do believe we should be happy, but not because of some outside emotion-producer. I think it should be because we know who we are in Christ. You can be happy and joyful, but that's not the same things as being out of control. I think that much contemporary worship music today stresses on emotion. It makes you feel good because of the music-not because you know who you are in Christ. Just for a quick example, I think of the Newsboy's "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord". First watch the video
Now read the lyrics:
Blessed be Your name In the land that is plentiful Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name And blessed be Your name When I'm found in the desert place Though I walk through the wilderness Blessed be your name
CHORUS: Every blessing You pour out I'll Turn back to praise And when the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name When the sun's shining down on me When the world's "all as it should be" Blessed be You name And blessed be Your name On the road marked with suffering Though there's pain in the offering Blessed be Your name
You give and take away You give and take away My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name I will bless Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away You give and take away My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name *Repeat*
Says hardly anything, right? Yet, the song gets you so emotionally worked up that you think you're listening to something great and you really feel "close to God". Of course, this is only my opinion, and I'm not saying there's a "right way" to worship. This is just the way I see it having grown up the way I did.
So, after saying all of that, what is good music? I think it has nothing to do with the label that is put on it (classical, bluegrass, rock music, etc.). And just because something has a beat and a drum doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad. I think you must determine whether something is bad by if the words agree with the music, if the words are saying anything good, if the music is causing you to become so emotional that you're living into an illusion, and if the music/words are causing you to think bad thoughts or do bad things.