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When the Popular is Also Beautiful

May 16, 2014

As a music-lover, I enjoy observing the trends that come and go in popular music, evaluating the songs and the basis of their popularity.  Most songs on the radio are popular because they have a strong beat and a catchy chorus.  This is okay, but for those who try to listen intently to music and make it themselves, these types of songs can get old really quickly.  However, occasionally a song will be released that has more substance in its melody and chord structure.  I love it when I get to play songs like that.  The Trinity hymnal is full of them (they used to contemporary! a long time ago…), but I enjoy playing new stuff too.

It seems that there are two types of success in contemporary music- the songs that are popular and the songs that are not only popular but also cherished.  Since I obtained a piano last fall, I have enjoyed practicing a variety of well-known contemporary sacred songs.  What has struck me is that some of the songs to which people (musicians or not) have responded with the most passion are also the ones that I enjoy playing and singing the most because the chord progressions, melody and lyrics have substance.  They go somewhere.  Maybe people appreciate this without even realizing it, and that’s why songs like this are so cherished.

In this post and the next I want to write about two of my favorites.  The first is the aptly named “Beautiful Things” by Gungor.  Here’s a video and lyrics/chords (from worshiptogether.com).

Beautiful Things Chords LyricsThis whole song paints a picture of new life forming, of God forming something beautiful out of the broken.  Vs. 2 wonders if what is lost will be found, and in vs. 3 life is being found out of the chaos.  Vs. 2 wonders if a garden could ever come out of the writer’s desert, and vs 3. finds hope springing up from the ground.  The melody is used to paint this picture too! In vs. 3, “hope is springing up from this old ground,” the melody goes up and folds over like like  a new flower in bloom.

In between these two verses, the chorus sings of beautiful things being made out of the hopeless.  At first glance this looks like a lazy chorus- just a D chord? Really?  But Gungor is taking us somewhere.  The D is the tonic chord- the grounding chord of the key of D, in which the song is written.  This symbolizes resolution, peace.  New life.  And the chorus doesn’t stay there.  After vs. 3 and the chorus again, the writers take us into a NEW melody and chord progression (gasp!  I didn’t know you could have more than one chord progression in a song! 😉 )  This bridge is one of the most loved parts of this piece, both for it’s melody and it’s words.  Finally, Gungor overlays the chorus and bridge.  The chorus, before on it’s lonely little D, is no longer simply at peace and resolved, it is new, beautiful, splashing with life.  This song started with hopelessness and brought us to hope and new life.  We went somewhere.    The song closes out meditatively with the bridge melody.

Stay tuned for my next post about another song that is both popular and meaningful.

gungor_beautifulthings

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Benjamin permalink
    May 25, 2014 3:04 pm

    Love this, Kate! Do share some more!

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