The Words of the Honey Family
No Harmony If Everyone Sings The Same Note
August 12, 2007
Belvedere Training Center, NY
Since this is Music Month for our congregation I wanted to offer something about harmony. I could give an intellectual lecture about the history of music in religion from early tribal rituals to Gregorian chant in the early church and the use of music in Latin masses. But, Ö Iím not very smart. So Iíll discuss music from a different perspective.
Historically and today music has had a tremendous influence on society and popular culture. Itís an industry which makes and spends billions of dollars each year. And how many people do you see with ear buds or headphones on, sometimes constantly?
Artists are popular, rich and influential. (Look at the obsession with Britney Spears.) If a performer endorses a product, it somehow gives that product credibility even though they have no expertise in that area. Or, just think, if you were to put 20 Nobel Prize scientists in one room and put a popular singer from the same generation in the next room where would most people go? The majority, and even some of the Nobel Prize scientists would go see the performer.
Why is music so powerful?
One reason is that it resonates with something inside us, something in our original heart. It communicates emotion. Out of intellect, emotion and will, corresponding to truth beauty and goodness, which is the most powerful? We know that emotion has the most influence on us and the arts appeal directly to our emotion. Some may think of music as a hobby, like collecting stamps. But if someone were moved to tears looking at a stamp, we might question their state of mind. When you hear good music somehow you leave a little different than when you arrived.
Iíve chosen the title: "You donít get harmony if everyone sings the same note." Now this might sound like Iím encouraging people to be different instead of uniting. But harmony is really an important and special form of unity, itís about unifying different elements into one.
Here are some definitions:
UNITY, The state or quality of being one. The combination or arrangement of parts into a whole.
HARMONY, A pleasing combination of elements in a whole. Agreement in feeling or opinion. Simultaneous combination of notes in a chord.
You must have unity to have harmony. In music and in business, in mission and in family, harmony is the best kind of unity. Iíll give you some examples: (At this point we brought up a quartet composed of members of the WestRock Church Choir to illustrate the following examples.) Everyone sang the same note. Nice, and unified, but not that interesting.
Next a four part chord. Much nicer, but then the tenor sang too loud, not united.
Then a scale, up and down. But the tenor sang too fast. He won the race. But this was not a competition. We tried a chord again but the tenor was upset at being criticized and refused to participate. The chord didnít sound right with only three voices. Finally we united and made a harmonious chord again.
These are simple examples. Not everyone is a singer or musician but we can all relate to the same points. There are big egos (of course not in this room) that sometimes make things inharmonious because they want to be seen or heard. Weíve experienced those who want to get ahead instead of working with the team. Weíve "Cained out" and backed out of important work or important relationships. Just to name a few.
Different qualities should complement and supplement each other if we are to have good music or harmonious relationships. Has anyone ever had a good idea? Have you ever been sure you were right but your central figure or boss or parent didnít agree?
How do you make harmony? And what if you are the central figure or the boss or the parent, how do you make harmony? (Please be clear that this is not addressed only to the objects, staff, kids, etc. but to the leaders, parents, and central figures as well.)
Sometimes a piece of music calls for a solo or for one section to get louder or softer. Usually the melody is in subject position and the other parts support it. Sometimes the violins or the sopranos take the lead, another time it might be the brass section or the tenors. Sometimes in life itís ok to shine (or let your members shine).
To make harmony in music you have to know the right notes, not sing too loud or too soft, play at the same tempo etc. You can all follow the conductor (or the boss or central figure) or sometimes you can listen to and support the other players without a conductor.
A large chorus or an orchestra will typically have a conductor. But a quartet or small instrumental ensemble will not. The individual performers make a connection with each other without a central figure. In your office, you donít always need direction. You can make a more efficient or effective operation by having good relationships with each other.
Solve problems through give and take. Be aware of the needs of others and offer support. Develop better ideas through discussion. This is also harmony. In a musical piece, if one part has the melody, the other parts will quiet down a little because at that moment the part with the melody is subject in the relationship. Their harmony supports the melody.
Just as a good conductor will consider each voice or instrument and have one stand out at the appropriate moment in the music, a good manager will value each employee and support their expertise or special effort. Ultimately they can all be combined for the greater result.
Whether itís soprano, alto, tenor and bass or itís marketing, accounting, operations and sales, they all have their special purpose in the whole. Percussion, strings, brass and woodwinds each has a very different sound, but can unify to make wonderful harmonious music. The witnessers and fund-raisers, lecturers and cooks can make a great harmonious center.
I mentioned how powerful artistic expression is. Not just in its influence on society but on the artist as well. Out of intellect, emotion and will, which is the one that usually gets us in trouble? We all know the answer to that. If you donít, please study Divine Principle.
Artists sometimes have a problem finding balance because emotion is so powerful. You may have heard the expression "a starving artist". It doesnít mean artists canít make a living, but sometimes if they have to choose between their art and money, theyíll choose their art. Sometimes they really are great artists and just arenít "discovered". But sometimes they just arenít very good and just donít know it. For those who are not artists sometimes we might have a great idea and no one will listen. And sometimes our idea really isnít so great.
But if your art, or your idea, isnít very good, how will you know? If you feel so passionately about it you might be a little blind to reality. So hereís a clue. Can it really affect others or does it just make you feel good?
At the Julliard School (one of the worldís top music schools) at Lincoln Center there was a teacher named Richard Westenberg. He taught, among other things, choral conducting and he also led some excellent choirs. Each year at Christmastime his choir performed Handelís Messiah.
One year he was interviewed on the radio during the Holiday season and was asked why he did Handelís Messiah every year when there were so many other pieces to perform. His response was that it was "good music". He said that many musical organizations pull music out of the dust, "hasnít been performed in eighty years" or "has never been performed in America", etc. The reason they are not performed is that they are not good.
Some music directors pull them out of obscurity to be different or to seem more educated or they think they should be performed because they havenít been performed. But we should do music because itís good music, because it resonates in the emotion of the audience.
So many artists are sure they are great.
Some really are great. And some really ... are not. So what do you do? How do you know you are right, that you are communicating through your music or through your particular method of expression?
Maybe we are wrong and should listen instead of speaking. So be sure what you want to communicate is appropriate. Or maybe it is good content but not the right language.
Letís pick a light happy lilting song like "Spring Song of Eden" and sing it like an aria from a grand opera. (Steve demonstrates to a laugh) The music doesnít match the emotion of the words. Or take the regal and glorious Hallelujah Chorus from Handelís Messiah and sing it in Hillbilly Bluegrass style stamping your foot and slapping your knee (again demonstrated to more laughter).
It might get a laugh, but it doesnít communicate what you intend it to. Or maybe itís the wrong medium. Some people love opera, anybody here love opera? (It used to be pop music.) Others might go to an opera and think, "Wow, they sure worked really hard-- to bore me. But at least I got a good rest.
These examples make it obvious and maybe a little silly. But if we give an intellectual lecture to a person who runs by their heart, we also might not be communicating. An 800 page intellectual book might completely captivate an intellectual reader. But others will put it down once they see there are no pictures inside. It only communicates to the right audience.
Hereís a big one: If we yell at our child or our spouse (or anyone for that matter) more than we show them love, we might communicate but itís something different than we think we are communicating. And then we wonder why they donít understand.
A Warning to artists Art is a two edged sword, it can also cut you. To really be successful, you need to have a large ego, you need to promote yourself, and you need to be concerned about your looks. But do you want to be vain and self centered and egotistical? Can you turn those things on and off as needed? If not, it can build dangerous momentum. Itís ok to love yourself; itís good to love yourself. But you have to remember to love others more. Thatís the principle.
The "Prima Donna" syndrome is real. The original definition of "Prima Donna" was the leading woman soloist in an opera company, literally "First lady" But the meaning has come to be understood as a temperamental, conceited person.
Itís so prevalent a personality that it redefined the meaning of the word. "Iím special so I need more." Iím going to influence so many people with my art so I deserve more support" Well, sometimes thereís just not enough support to go around. There are so many artists and so few stages.
Maybe God made it that way because, in the ideal world, those who create beauty will be more significant. There wonít be wars and drug addiction and countless other problems to focus on. Beauty and love will be the most prominent. But not yet.
Once when the Metropolitan Opera was recording at the Manhattan Center the lead soprano would not sing until her chiropractor came and made an adjustment.
The entire chorus and orchestra waited, costing the record label tens of thousands of dollars. She felt that she really couldnít sing her best without her back being in line. This was a recording that would go down for posterity and she had to be at her best. Was she just the Prima Donna of the opera company or was she being a "Prima Donna"?
You want to be your best and look your best and sound your best. But how much is too much? You need to be honest with yourself, with your original mind, about your motivation. And a special note: A conductor or a manager or a central figure can also be a "Prima Donna". Be careful.
The creative process is seductive, addictive. It can suck you in and keep you. That can be good or bad. You create and you look and listen and experience your creation. You receive joy from your creation. Youíre a God.
Youíre tapping into a special power. It can be used for great good, or not. Make sure your right, make sure your motivation is good, because there can be tremendous energy in either direction and once youíre in it, itís hard to have perspective. Again, out of intellect emotion and will, expressed in truth beauty and goodness, which has gotten us into the most trouble?
In real harmony, whether in music or with people, the different elements need to supplement and compliment each other.
Henry Ford who created the Ford Motor Company and was father of the modern assembly line is another example. He was not formally educated but created an extremely successful enterprise. He was known to have people around him to answer questions in their particular area of expertise. If a question came up at a meeting he could just turn around and get the answer. He used harmony.
In music there are a couple of ways to make and maintain harmony. Often both methods are used together. The performers can listen to each other to be sure they blend well. And they can also watch the conductor and unite with the direction given.
In our missions, sometimes we just need to follow the direction, make unity and be obedient. This can be for practical issues or to lay a "Foundation of Substance". But sometimes weíll accomplish much more with harmony. If one musician is too loud the conductor can make a hand signal to bring his volume down a bit. As performers, we canít always hear or see from the larger perspective. This is the value of a conductor or manager.
If a staff member has the wrong perspective, the leader can correct it.
If we really believe in making harmony, the member should go to the leader, sincerely and humbly, and try to resolve differences. And the leader should make the effort to listen and explain things to the member to create an opportunity for harmony. Walking away or sending someone away is, in a sense, against what we claim to believe in. It communicates a different message.
In the term "Subject -- Object relationship" sometimes the emphasis needs to be on the first part, subject -- object, and sometimes it should be on the second part, relationship. We need to help develop this culture if we want harmony and not just unity. If the family is the model, as Father points out, these relationships are more than positions. Remember, Cain and Abel were also brothers.
A Culture of Heart
The first generation went off across the wilderness. We dropped everything including passions and aptitudes. Hopefully some fallen nature was left behind as well. We didnít create a culture. We were on the frontline.
But now we need to create a culture to maintain and expand our great ideology. Just speeches wonít do it. If the kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of speeches, I donít really want to go, do you? There is certainly strong culture to proliferate fallen morality. There is also plenty of New Testament culture.
We need Completed Testament culture. Chun Il Guk culture. So letís encourage those who have the ability to make heavenly music and art to proliferate heavenís culture. But a societyís culture is more than its art. It includes the way people relate to each other, the way businesses and governments are run.
If Family is the model, as Father stresses, even exchange marriages between enemies, and divorce is not an option, then certainly disputes between brothers should be resolved. Bosses should not be too quick to fire employees if thereís hope to improve things.
Members should not walk out instead of trying to communicate. We have a culture of peace-building, of restoration, of making (remember the topic?) harmony.
Donít create art for yourself. Move people. Inspire people. Itís good to be proud and confident but find a balance of humility. And whether an artist or not, letís make the harmony happen in our lives.