Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Theology & Clubbing Culture III

The most common disapproval shared among all non-clubbers on clubbing is this: the music is too loud.

Most big clubs here play R&B, Hip-Hop, Techno, Trance, and other music with fast bass beats. That means the average BPM (Beats per Minute) that clubbers encountered in clubs ranges from 80 to about 150 BPM or more.

Our average heartbeat per minute is about 60-75 per minutes, and about 100 BPM during physical exercises. I checked my own BPM when I was typing. It was about 65 BPM. So generally the surrounding BPM in clubs are faster than our heartbeat.

The effect of high BMP that we are exposed to in a contained space for a long time, like in a Trance club, is subtle but nonetheless significant.

Physiologically and psychologically our body responds according to BMP. Noticed the last time you tap your finger or toes according to the rhythm of a catchy song? Or the last time when a song with its own specific rhythm spoke right to your heart?

Or to clubbers who enjoy Trance, ever wonder why a certain dance move such as ‘Shuffle’ goes along well with the music?

If you have watched the youtube clip of Shuffle (through the link above) and think that those dancers and their dancing are weird, perhaps there is no much different with some of those found in this clip (HT: Kar Yong). The only observable difference is that the Shufflers did it with much more style. And if you count the BMP in this clip, it is no less than those songs played in clubs.

It all has to do with our created body and how it responds to stimuli. Through the right coordination of rhythm, beats, and songs, we can invoke certain physical and emotional responses from our audiences. Thus there can be intimate interaction between our body and music: Our body aroused by music.

Be it Bach or Armin Van Buuren, when we received enough auditory stimuli, we react in a controlled and expected way. It is as if there exists a synchronizing relationship in the fabric of our body in connection with music.

It seems that there is correspondence between our bodily movement and rhythm. As though the noumena world of music is apprehensible by our phenomenal mind, and resulting our expression in the form of bodily movement which converges with the noumena.

That's why a certain bodily expression (eg. classical Ballet) doesn't converge with certain music (eg. Trance). To force both in the same performance gives us the uneasy feeling that the performer is 'out-of-tune' with the music. We'll think that the dancer is stucked in her own world, dancing according to the rythm playing in her own mind or something.

And such convergence betrays the deeper structure underlying this world we occupy. This convergence also hints to us what 'aesthetic' should be like. When we see a dancer's expression blends well with the music, we judge it to be pleasant. When it doesn't, we fail it.

And the reason why the music in the clubs are in the way they are is because it serves as an invocation to convergence. And through that, revealing this deeper structure embedded within the creation. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10.27); A convergence.


Robin Teo said...

I got a question here, while the clubbing music may or may not be neutral relating to moral conduct, ( I am not against clubbing music generally) is there some truth where certain kind of music may excite and entice us to sin? Music alone may not be able to do so, but with the right ingredients that goes with it, ie. the kind of people that goes to night club, depending what kind of night club it is, has some bearing. I ve been to night club where you see ladies dressed scantily, purposefully dance in an erotic way to get attention. The kind of music that goes with that kind of environment brings up a kind of excitement. Thinking out loud here I guess even fast beat music alone will not entice us to do certain thing, but it will have to go with other ingredients.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Robin,

What I find is that all kind of music that caught our attention in one way or another affect us. Whether to sin or not, this question is rather unanswerable I think.

Let's take a non-clubbing example, let's talk about slow and depressive music. Someone who is heart-broken chose to listen to songs that articulate and express her grief. And as a result the person cried and feel aweful. That's rather self-pitiful and self-defeatistic, so is that sin? I don't know.

My friends dresses body-hugging clothes in the club. They dance in certain ways which might be interpreted as erotic to some, as exotic to others, as awesome by still others. And knowing them, their dance moves are not out to get attention in the sense of inviting men to approach them to grope them.

Perhaps sometimes their dance is a form of invitation, but in a good sense like how an interviewee tried her best to impress her interviewers; to get the job. Their dance is an invitation to get attention, and I don't see anything not good in that since all of us want attention in one way or another, by someone or others.

May be there are people who dance in certain way so that they could get laid, but that doesn't mean all who dance in that way desire the same thing.

So I think you are right that music alone will not entice us to do anything. It requires numerous other factors. Thank you for your sharing! :)

Robin Teo said...

Hi Joshua, you have a good point here, the analogy with the heart broken state and listening to broken love music certainly will not help. There is a season for everything, but one must move on from grieving in this case. It doesn't help if one continues to wallow in melancholic music which will only enhance self-pity. In this case its not so much the music that is causing sin, but rather the person who lack self-control. Thanks for the ex-change.