A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Music

A fine voice when joined to beautiful music causes a great effect, for both are desirable and pleasing. All these have in themselves an organization, and are constructed on natural law. Therefore they correspond to the order of existence like something which would fit into a mold. A true voice fits into the mold of nature. When it is so this affects the nerves, and they affect the heart and spirit. In the world of existence physical things have a connection with spiritual realities. One of these things is the voice, which connects itself with the spirit; and the spirit can be uplifted by this means—for though it is a physical thing, it is one of the material, natural organizations—therefore, it is effective.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 78-79)


All these feelings can be caused by voice and music, for through the nerves it moves and stirs the spirit. Even over animals, music has an effect. For example: When they wish to take a camel over a desert road, they attach to him some bells, or they play upon a flute, and this sound prevents him from realizing the fatigue of the journey; his nerves are affected, but he does not have an increase of thought, he feels nothing but physical sensation.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 79-81)


Although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect the ear’s auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 147)


Among certain nations of the East, music was considered reprehensible, but in this new age the Manifest Light hath, in His holy Tablets, specifically proclaimed that music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 112)


In short: melodies, though they are material, are connected with the spiritual, therefore, they produce a great effect. A certain kind of melody makes the spirit happy, another kind makes it sad, another excites it to action.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 79-81).


In short, musical melodies form an important role in the associations, or outward and inward characteristics, or qualities of man, for it is the inspirer or motive power of both the material and spiritual susceptibilities. What a motive power it is in all feelings of love! When man is attached to the Love of God, music has a great effect upon him.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 77-78)


It is the music which assists us to affect the human spirit; it is an important means which helps us to communicate with the soul.
(Shoghi Effendi, Music, p. 80)


Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should be any cultivation of “Bahá’í Music” any more than we are trying to develop a Bahá’í school of painting or writing. The believers are free to paint, write and compose as their talents guide them. If music is written, incorporating the sacred writings, the friends are free to make use of it, but it should never be considered a requirement at Bahá’í meetings to have such music. The further away the friends keep from any set forms, the better, for they must realize that the Cause is absolutely universal, and what might seem a beautiful addition to their mode of celebrating a Feast, etc., would perhaps fall on the ears of people of another country as unpleasant sounds—and vice versa. As long as they have music for its own sake it is all right, but they should not consider it Bahá’í music.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Importance of the Arts in Promoting the Faith)


Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God, are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life; wherefore, the Teachings of God, whether they be in the form of anthems or communes or prayers, when they are melodiously sung, are most impressive.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, p. 77)


Musical melodies are, therefore, those peculiar effects produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have the keenest effect upon the spirit…. Among the most renowned musicians of Persia was one named Barbod, who, whenever a great question had been pleaded for at the court of the King, and the Ministry had failed to persuade the King, they would at once refer the matter to Barbod, whereupon he would go with his instrument to the court and play the most appropriate and touching music, the end being at once attained, because the King was immediately affected by the touching musical melodies, certain feelings of generosity would swell up in his heart, and he would give way.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, para. 1421)


Regarding your question about singing during the devotional portion of the Feast, you are correct in your suggestion that the lyrics in such music should be drawn from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The friends are welcome to use music containing non-scriptural lyrics to enrich and enliven other parts of their Feasts.
(Universal House of Justice, March 1994)


Some feelings occur accidentally and some have a foundation. For example: some people are naturally kind, but they may be accidentally upset by a wave of anger. But if they hear music, the true nature will reassert itself. Music really awakens the real, natural nature, the individual essence.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 79-81)


The art of music must be brought to the highest stage of development, for this is one of the most wonderful arts and in this glorious age of the Lord of Unity it is highly essential to gain its mastery. However, one must endeavor to attain the degree of artistic perfection and not be like those who leave matters unfinished.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of the Arts)


The musician’s art is among those arts worthy of the highest praise, and it moveth the hearts of all who grieve. Wherefore … play and sing out the holy words of God with wondrous tones in the gatherings of the friends, that the listener may be freed from chains of care and sorrow, and his soul may leap for joy and humble itself in prayer to the realm of Glory.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 112)


There are a number of passages in the Bahá’í Writings in praise of music. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for example, asserts that “music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart.”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 201)


We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Para. 51)


We have not come across any instructions which prohibit the setting of the obligatory prayers to music. However, because of their nature, we do not consider it appropriate to do so.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 412)


We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may he lifted up unto the realm on high …
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 38)


Whatever is in the heart of man, melody moves and awakens. If a heart full of good feelings and a pure voice are joined together, a great effect is produced. For instance: if there be love in the heart, through melody, it will increase until its intensity can scarcely be borne; but if bad thoughts are in the heart, such as hatred, it will increase and multiply. For instance: the music used in war awakens the desire for bloodshed. The meaning is that melody causes whatever feeling is in the heart to increase.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 79-81)


With whatever purpose you listen to music, that purpose will be increased. For instance: there will be a concert given for the poor and unfortunate, and if you go there thinking of the aim, the music will increase your compassion and generosity. This is the reason why music is used in war. And so it is with all the things that cause the excitation of the nerves.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Music, pp. 79-81)