In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah has said “We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high” and I’m sure you have all experienced this to be true at times while listening to certain music. The emotions and thoughts that music can engender in heart, mind and soul can at times be truly sublime. Now combine this with the blessed words of the Holy Messengers in a reflective atmosphere and its effects can become soul-stirring.
Over the last 8 years that we’ve been holding a monthly public devotional event called Soul Food, we have learnt how the accompaniment of music to the Holy Writings can truly uplift the atmosphere.
There is a vast ocean of beautiful music that can be used to assist. In selecting the right background music it needs to fulfil its purpose of uplifting the writings rather than overpowering it. Also the appropriate feel of music to match the tone of the quotes being read is also important. I have found that often movie sound tracks are ideal, as they tell a story and are often longer in length .
Below I have compiled a list of 10 tracks we have used in Soul Food that I would recommend as a good start for your next series of devotionals. The first five are taken from motion pictures, all of which I would also recommend to watch, and the last five are a range of music by different composers. The links for where you can purchase these tracks are also attached.
So whats next? Just pick some beautiful Writings on a particular theme, invite a few friends over and see over time what effect the regular gathering of reading the writings accompanied by music can have.You could even combine some live music but this is a good start.
I would love to hear of your recommendations of music that you have found effective for devotionals. Please post them in the comments section below.
One of many tracks that can be used from this album. Armand Amar is a composer based in Paris who’s well known for his film scores and dance pieces. Amar was born in Jerusalem in 1953 and raised in Morocco. The motion picture would also have to be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen based on the environment. A must watch!!
Hans Zimmer’s score for Edward Zwick’s samurai epic The Last Samurai mixes his own densely composed style with Japanese instruments and melodies, resulting in a brooding, atmospheric collection of music. Shakuhachi and other flutes, koto, and taiko drums make their presence known throughout the score, most effectively on compositions like “A Way of Life”, which begins as a reflective duet for flute and strings before swelling into an ominous but majestic melody.
The film’s score is centered on piano and strings, but guitar, flute, and percussion also appear.
Superb! As with the movie, an outstanding example of composition and storytelling, this time by composer Tan Dun. The music themes flow from romance, to battle, to mournfulness, to beautiful love song, all interwoven in a haunting, oriental style. The precision and depth of sound by the orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma are wonderful. The percussion section deserves special praise for delivering sounds you’ll hear nowhere else.
Clint Eastwood’s self-penned score for his Oscar-winning boxing drama, Million Dollar Baby, is as quietly affecting as the film itself. It’s gentle and unobtrusive, but deeply cut with melancholy and despair.
The Album Leaf is the solo project of Jimmy LaValle, a San Diego-based songwriter who began recording solo material one year after forming the post-rock band Tristeza. Inspired by a number of genres — classical, jazz, and post-rock among them — LaValle constructed his own songs in a similarly eclectic manner, utilizing everything from ambient noise to field recordings to radio transmissions.
Self-described “rural folk piano” player George Winston was among the earliest and most successful proponents of the genre of contemporary instrumental music later dubbed new age.
Spiegel im Spiegel: 1 is one of my favourite songs! It’s a song that has enough space to allow the listener to fill it with his own emotions, but also his failings to live up to the beauty it presents.
Genius is defined as someone who comes along and adds something to a style that would not have happened without them. Brian Eno is therefore technically a genius, as the entire Ambient genre may not have existed without him.
The group Amina (later changing its name to Amiina), is an experimental quartet, merging violins and cellos with ambient electronics.