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Author Topic: musical instruments demonic  (Read 7361 times) Average Rating: 0
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kmm
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« on: May 28, 2008, 01:52:58 PM »

First I'll preface this by saying that I really like the a Capella music of the Orthodox Church, and attempt (I repeat, attempt) to sing in our church choir. A protestant friend of mine was telling me though that this stems from the medieval belief that musical instruments were considered to be of demonic origins (her husband in in her church's worship band). Anyone know anything about this?

Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2008, 01:59:10 PM »

Great Church Father such as St. John Chrysostom considered musical instruments inappropriate for use in Christian worship. So it is certainly not of Medieval origins.
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 02:01:46 PM »

I know that at least some Church Fathers were fine with musical instruments. Gregory the Theologian, for example, said of David:

"Among the kings, David is celebrated, whose victories and trophies gained from the enemy are on record, but his most characteristic trait was his gentleness, and, before his kingly office, his power with the harp, able to soothe even the evil spirit." - Oration 43, 73

I think the main issue is whether they ought to be used in worship services or not, with the Orthodox falling on the "not" side.
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2008, 02:01:53 PM »

First I'll preface this by saying that I really like the a Capella music of the Orthodox Church, and attempt (I repeat, attempt) to sing in our church choir. A protestant friend of mine was telling me though that this stems from the medieval belief that musical instruments were considered to be of demonic origins (her husband in in her church's worship band). Anyone know anything about this? 

Hogwash.  The Orthodox used instruments outside the Church, and the Greeks are credited with early organ creation (I think it was a water organ).  The belief about keeping instruments out of the worship service itself is probably a carry-over from Jewish temple worship - iirc, instruments were permitted in certain areas of the temple, but not the inner-most worshiping precincts.  In Roman Empire days, instruments would often be used in processions in between churches.  The Eastern Roman Empire maintained the use of the organ and furthered its development during the period when the West was occupied by various tribes.
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2008, 02:13:09 PM »

How many times in Church do we Orthodox chant the Praises which include the words from the Psalm:
"Praise Him with tuneful cymbals! Praise Him with cymbals of jubilation!"

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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2008, 03:10:34 PM »

First I'll preface this by saying that I really like the a Capella music of the Orthodox Church, and attempt (I repeat, attempt) to sing in our church choir. A protestant friend of mine was telling me though that this stems from the medieval belief that musical instruments were considered to be of demonic origins (her husband in in her church's worship band). Anyone know anything about this?

Thanks.


It stems from Judaism and the early church in general. You can see this view from Clement of Alexandria and that's mid 2nd century to early 3rd.


Infact, most of the pre-nicene christian world supported the "a Capella" view.




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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2008, 03:42:13 PM »

I'd like an opinion here from our Coptic and Ethiopian members.
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2008, 03:43:32 PM »

Sounds pretty unfounded. By the early middle ages pipe organs were in use in Western liturgies.
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2008, 03:47:20 PM »

First I'll preface this by saying that I really like the a Capella music of the Orthodox Church, and attempt (I repeat, attempt) to sing in our church choir. A protestant friend of mine was telling me though that this stems from the medieval belief that musical instruments were considered to be of demonic origins (her husband in in her church's worship band). Anyone know anything about this?

Thanks.

Balderdash! This is nonsensical thought.  Where do people come up with such ideas?  I know it wasn't your idea though.  I used to say this when I was a younger younger person...... always question the answers!  This one sounded more like someone plucked it off the Orthodox Onion Dome rather than any scholarly musing.
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2008, 05:24:56 PM »

I'd like an opinion here from our Coptic and Ethiopian members.

As would I. I was under the impression that some of the African churches use drums.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2008, 05:29:47 PM »

Is this friend in the Church of Christ? I was in that church when I was younger, and I remember that they never used instruments in worship because no instrument is specifically mentioned in the New Testament. I always enjoyed the a capella singing, but I found their reasoning to be lacking.
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2008, 05:47:45 PM »

As would I. I was under the impression that some of the African churches use drums.

There seems to be a distinction made between melodic instruments (which are traditionally not found in any Orthodox liturgical setting) and non-melodic ones (which are used by all of them in some way or another), be it bells, cymbals, drums, sistrums, those shaky-things the Syrians use, etc.

The Fathers teach that while the Hebrews used (melodic) instruments in worship, this is not appropriate for Christians who have a higher spiritual calling (i'm paraphrasing of course), possibly because of their association with secular music.

The only reference I've ever heard to musical instruments being prohibited in general, and not just liturgically, has been from Muslims. They're also the only people I've heard referring to them as being demonic.
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2008, 06:49:34 PM »

There seems to be a distinction made between melodic instruments (which are traditionally not found in any Orthodox liturgical setting) and non-melodic ones (which are used by all of them in some way or another), be it bells, cymbals, drums, sistrums, those shaky-things the Syrians use, etc.

The Fathers teach that while the Hebrews used (melodic) instruments in worship, this is not appropriate for Christians who have a higher spiritual calling (i'm paraphrasing of course), possibly because of their association with secular music.

The only reference I've ever heard to musical instruments being prohibited in general, and not just liturgically, has been from Muslims. They're also the only people I've heard referring to them as being demonic.

But the Human vocal cords are a melodic instrument and we employ them in worship even though they are also used in "secular" music. I don't think they are the reasons we don't use them. I'd be interested to read where the Fathers teach that melodic instruments are not appropriate for Christians, do you have any references?
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2008, 07:20:25 PM »

I'd be interested to read where the Fathers teach that melodic instruments are not appropriate for Christians, do you have any references?

Clement of Alexandria (his mention of the timbrel seems to counter my "melodic instruments" theory):
Quote
The Spirit, distinguishing from such revelry the divine service, sings: "Praise him with the sound of trumpet,"for with sound of trumpet he shall raise the dead. "Praise him on the psaltery,"for the tongue is the psaltery of the Lord; "And praise him with the timbrel and the dance,"refers to the church meditating on the resurrection of the dead. "Praise him on the chords and organ."Our body he calls an organ, and its nerves are the strings by which It has received harmonious tension, and when struck by the Spirit, it gives forth human Voices. "Praise him on the clashing cymbals."He calls the tongue the cymbal of the mouth, which resounds with the pulsation of the lips. . . The one instrument of peace, the word alone by which we honor God, Is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery and trumpet, and timbrel, and flute.

Origen:
Quote
Formerly when those of the circumcision worshipped God in ordinances which were symbols and figures of things to come, it was not out of place to sing hymns to God with the psaltery and lyre, and to do this on the sabbath day. . . But we in an inward manner keep the part of the Jew, according to the saying of the Apostle (Rom.8:28) . . . We render our hymn with a living psaltery, a living lyre, in our spiritual songs. For the unison song of the people of Christ is more pleasing to God than any musical instrument. Thereby in all the churches of God with one mind and heart, with unity and agreement in faith and worship we offer to God a unison melody in our singing of Psalms. Such psalmodies and spiritual lyres we are wont to use, since the Apostle teaches this, saying, "In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs."By another interpretation the lyre might be the whole body, by whose movements and deeds the soul offers its appropriate hymn to God.

St. John Chrysostom:
Quote
Many people take the mention of these instruments allegorically and say that the timbrel requires the putting to death of our flesh, and that the psaltery requires us to look up to heaven (for this instrument resounds from above, not from below like the lyre). But I would say this, that in olden times they were thus led by these instruments because of the dullness of their understanding and their recent deliverance from idols. Just as God allowed animal sacrifices, so also he let them have these instruments, condescending to help their weakness.

Theodoret of Cyrus:
Quote
"Praise him with psaltery and harp . . ."These instruments the Levites formerly used when praising God in the temple. It was not because God enjoyed their sound, out because he accepted the purpose of their worship.

For to show that God does not find pleasure in songs nor in the notes of instruments we hear him saying to the Jews:

"Take thou away from me the noise of"thy songs, for I will not hear the melody of thy instruments."He allowed these things to be done for the reason that he wished to free them from the deception of idols.

For since some of them were fond of play and laughter, and all these things were done in the temples of idols, he allowed these things in order to entice them. He used the lesser evil in order to forbid the greater, and used what was imperfect to teach what was, perfect.

Source, containing some further quotes.

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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2008, 07:35:36 PM »



I was taught by an Orthodox music historian that the reason we don't have instruments in church is because instruments appeal more to the  passions and emotions but the voice alone more to the mind (rational).  Maybe similar to the reason we chant the liturgical readings rather than reading them expressively?
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2008, 08:38:50 PM »

Also, God came to Elijah as a very, very tiny voice - rather than an Earthquake, Flood, Windstorm and other natural phenomena.

Just as the animal sacrifices stopped in the Jewish temple when it was destroyed, so did the accompanying musical accolades.

Those who want 5 piece Christian rock bands have simply forgotten the past.
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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2008, 08:49:47 PM »

Now this is a tangent I know. But why are we not supposed to have musical instruments in church because of the destruction of the Temple, but yet Orthodox worship in most other aspects (vestments, altar, etc) is allowed to follow the pattern of OT temple worship? Just something that I find a bit contradictory.
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« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2008, 08:57:53 PM »

Clement of Alexandria (his mention of the timbrel seems to counter my "melodic instruments" theory):
Origen:
St. John Chrysostom:
Theodoret of Cyrus:
Source, containing some further quotes.

Thanks Orthodox11!
I especially like the quote from St. Clement of Alexandria which speaks of the human body as the most fitting instrument for worship.
It seems to me that none of the reasons the Fathers reject the use of instruments is because they are "melodic", but rather, because they are inferior to the pinnacle of God's Creation on Earth, which is man. Would you agree?
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« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2008, 09:04:04 PM »


It seems to me that none of the reasons the Fathers reject the use of instruments is because they are "melodic", but rather, because they are inferior to the pinnacle of God's Creation on Earth, which is man. Would you agree?

I agree. My point wasn't that they rejected it because they were melodic, but rather that what was rejected was melodic instruments, whose purpose differs from percussion (which is only used to keep the tempo while singing), simply because the latter are so prevalent in certain forms of Orthodox worship - but I may be way off on that one.
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« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2008, 09:24:27 PM »

Judaism is also acapella where hymns are chanted by a cantor, most likely jews abandoned the use of intruments in their worship by the 2nd century BC. The early christians never used musical instruments and even in OT temple times musical instruments were not used for somber or sacred feast days.

The NT is quite explicit in what constituted "church music" and musical intruments were not included,- "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.:(Eph 5.19 see also Col 3.16)

 The Church Fathers believed musical instruments were not meant for sacred worship but for secular merry-making.  Musical instruments were meant to stir up the passions of the flesh, for dancing and the singing of love songs and thus inappropriate for christian worship.

Clement of Alexandria in 190 a.d. sums it up best (And the continuation of the quote provided by Ortho11): "The One Instrument of Peace, the Logos alone by whom we honor God, is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery, trumpet, timbral and flute. For those expert in war and scorners of the fear of God were inclined to make use of these intruments in the choruses in their Festive assemblies...Yet, even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or lyre there is no blame. You will imitate the righteous hebrew king in his thanksgiving to God...Temperate harmonies are to be allowed . But we are to banish as far away as possible from our robust minds those liquid harmonies.
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« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2008, 09:25:21 PM »

I agree. My point wasn't that they rejected it because they were melodic, but rather that what was rejected was melodic instruments, whose purpose differs from percussion (which is only used to keep the tempo while singing), simply because the latter are so prevalent in certain forms of Orthodox worship - but I may be way off on that one.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, I guess the most prevalent percussion instruments are the talanton and the sιmαntron. I loved waking up to the sound of these when I was staying on the Holy Mountain as they called us to prayer with the rhythm:
"O-A-DAM.    O-A-DAM.   O-PRO-TO-PLAS-TEIN-A-DAM"
("ADAM! ADAM! THE FIRST-CREATED, ADAM!")
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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2008, 10:03:30 PM »

The friend who told me this did so after I told her I was singing a Capella in a church choir. No, she doesn't actually agree with the idea that instruments are demonic. She is Lutheran, her husband is an Mennonite, and they attend a non-denominational protestant church to get around their differences, and as I said, her husband is part of the worship band that most definitely uses instruments. I ask you all because I did think it strange, but didn't know how to respond. She's the daughter of a minister, teaches at a Christian school, and takes courses at the local Christian university. I, on the other hand, did not grow up with any Christian background other than secular forms of Christmas and Easter, and so the learning curve for me is very steep and still have tons to learn and little to no time to do it in. Therefore I figured she probably knew more than me.

Thanks for all the information!
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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2008, 10:22:04 PM »

This may not be the right reason, but I must say when people add an organ to Orthodox music it just sounds terrible! For me, it's not a question on whether we should be aloud to use instruments, it's why on earth would you want too? The liturgy was not written to have an organ.
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« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2008, 10:25:55 PM »

I am glad that there are no instruments. I would rather hear the ocassional flub by a choir than listen to an untuned instrument, or worse yet-tuning audibly in the middle of a performance. (I literally want to fly on stage and strangle people when they do that).
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« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2008, 10:32:01 PM »

This may not be the right reason, but I must say when people add an organ to Orthodox music it just sounds terrible! For me, it's not a question on whether we should be aloud to use instruments, it's why on earth would you want too? The liturgy was not written to have an organ.

I agree with you 100 percent, and i can tell you horror stories. I attended DL at a local GOA church where the organ was sooo loud, you couldnt even hear the voices. A few months later i bumped into a parish council member for this parish  and complained to him about how awful it sounded. He told me that his parents who  visited from Florida, told him the same thing! He then told me that it will be some time before they use the organ again because it broke down a week earlier!  Glory be to God!

They should get rid of the organs, they dont add to the splendor of worship but take away from it.
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« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2008, 10:50:31 PM »

I can't imagine an Orthodox church service with an organ! Thankfully that's not something I've ever experienced. Our acapella singing is so beautiful and prayerful!
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« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2008, 11:01:22 PM »

I can't imagine an Orthodox church service with an organ! Thankfully that's not something I've ever experienced. Our acapella singing is so beautiful and prayerful!

Unfortunately the church I go to has one. And a choir. Don't get me wrong, I love my church, the priests, and the people there, but I feel a little cheated when I hear people who only have chanters and are shocked when I saw we have an organ. There was one time the choir was on vacation, and our chanter did all the singing. Not only did it seem shorter (not that that's important to me, but it was something noticeable) but it felt more "authentic." Then I went to another church in northeastern Virginia (St Katherine's, I believe) that only had chanters, and again it was a nice experience.

My priest has started pressing to make things more "Orthodox" so to speak in our services. They used to go down and meet people for communion, now they do it back near the alter as normal. I don't know if sometime in the future he may press to change our musical methods as well.
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« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2008, 12:02:08 AM »

"O-A-DAM.    O-A-DAM.   O-PRO-TO-PLAS-TEIN-A-DAM"
("ADAM! ADAM! THE FIRST-CREATED, ADAM!")
The way I remember the beat is

"Come-to-Church    Come-to-Church     Every-one-time-to-come-to-church"

I knew there had to be something in Greek that was more theological then that. Thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2008, 12:17:45 AM »

Yes, I am thrilled that we do not have an organ in our church. I never did get the organ thing, personally.
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« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2008, 12:34:11 AM »


I was taught by an Orthodox music historian that the reason we don't have instruments in church is because instruments appeal more to the  passions and emotions but the voice alone more to the mind (rational).  Maybe similar to the reason we chant the liturgical readings rather than reading them expressively?
There may be some truth to this, but it may be more accurate to say that the reason the Church sees a cappella singing and chanting as superior to instrumental music is that only singing and chanting can really communicate text.  In Orthodox worship, the most important thing is that the texts of the Psalms, hymns, and readings be heard and understood.

Outside of church, though, those who say instrumental music is demonic would have to give up listening to such great orchestral music as that of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.  Force me to do that, and you'll have war on your hands. Angry
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« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2008, 12:41:41 AM »

Outside of church, though, those who say instrumental music is demonic would have to give up listening to such great orchestral music as that of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.  Force me to do that, and you'll have war on your hands. Angry

I find the music of The Nutcracker very enjoyable.  Anything else classical usually results in changing the station because I would somehow get worked up over listening to classical music for no reason.   Huh

Greek folk music can be downright depressing if one listens to it alone rather than at a festive event.   Cry
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« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2008, 12:46:46 AM »

PetertheAleut,

Your explanation makes the most sense to me (re: needing to hear the text)!
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« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2008, 12:58:13 AM »

My daughters favorite CD right now is Mozarts magic flute.
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« Reply #33 on: May 30, 2008, 09:57:22 PM »

Back when I was in the Charismatic Episcopal church, On Palm Sunday, I used to wear my kilt and we would do a bagpipe processional outside the church going into the church after the blessing of the palms. When a "Church of Christ" person found out about it, he told me I was going to go to hell for doing such a thing. I told him I didn't play the bagpipes that badly.  Wink
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« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2008, 08:17:50 AM »

PetertheAleut's post reads most reasonably to me.

However, not trying to be too difficult, but there is a factor in having instruments at all historically in that they have to be constructed and some of them are very complicated.  Even a drum isn't just any old bit of hollow wood if a nice sound is wanted. Then there's preparing the head(s) from some kind of skin.  Bells and cymbals and such need metal work and that needs mining of ore.  Making a stringed instrument of even the simplest kind (discounting the Rubber Band and cigar box guitar/harp that kids used to make when I was young, did anyone else do that?) has it's own special points.  My father in law has been building a ukelele, and it takes time, skill, and tools along with the wood.

My point is that technology and skill is needed and these develop over time whether it is to construct instruments, or buildings or clothing or anything else.  If anyone recalls a PBS series with James Burke called "Connections" it was a fine program that showed how one bit could lead to another over the course of centuries.

Ebor
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« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2008, 08:29:46 AM »

Making a stringed instrument of even the simplest kind (discounting the Rubber Band and cigar box guitar/harp that kids used to make when I was young, did anyone else do that?) has it's own special points.
Yes, and I learned to play it too. Helped a lot when I learned to play the guitar in high school.

Quote
My point is that technology and skill is needed and these develop over time whether it is to construct instruments, or buildings or clothing or anything else.  If anyone recalls a PBS series with James Burke called "Connections" it was a fine program that showed how one bit could lead to another over the course of centuries.
I haven't seen that. It sounds really interesting.
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« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2008, 09:26:51 AM »

Yes, and I learned to play it too. Helped a lot when I learned to play the guitar in high school.

Ah.  It's nice to know that some things are still around.  Smiley  But even for that we needed the rubber band and for that we needed rubber that would be temperature proof and not soften and get gooey and for *that* we look to such people as Charles Goodyear. 

Quote
I haven't seen that. It sounds really interesting.

It is available on home video.  I first saw it on PBS when it first came out thirty years ago.  Here's the Wiki page on it
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connections_(TV_series)

I recommend it. The first series is the best, I think.

Ebor


Fixed the link; it sent the user to a broken Wiki page. --YtterbiumAnalyst
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« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2008, 12:21:52 PM »

I told him I didn't play the bagpipes that badly.  Wink
I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you- those weren't the bagpipes, it was a kazoo.  And yes, you can go to hell for playing it.
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« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2008, 12:56:01 AM »

According to Gary Larson (the Far Side) - you get a saxophone in heaven and an accordion in hell (squeeze box, harmonium, organ, you name it!).
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« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2008, 01:29:14 AM »

Who would want into Heaven then?   Tongue
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« Reply #40 on: June 02, 2008, 08:33:37 AM »

I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you- those weren't the bagpipes, it was a kazoo.  And yes, you can go to hell for playing it.

LOL!

By the way, I love your sig line.  It is pronounced "Throat-Warbler Mangrove," right?  Wink

{Edited for spelling... d'oh!}
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« Reply #41 on: June 02, 2008, 11:01:11 AM »

Fixed the link; it sent the user to a broken Wiki page. --YtterbiumAnalyst

Thank you.  I'm sorry I messed up on the link.
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« Reply #42 on: June 02, 2008, 02:50:38 PM »

Hogwash.  The Orthodox used instruments outside the Church, and the Greeks are credited with early organ creation (I think it was a water organ).  The belief about keeping instruments out of the worship service itself is probably a carry-over from Jewish temple worship - iirc, instruments were permitted in certain areas of the temple, but not the inner-most worshiping precincts.  In Roman Empire days, instruments would often be used in processions in between churches.  The Eastern Roman Empire maintained the use of the organ and furthered its development during the period when the West was occupied by various tribes.
Yes the Hydravlis (or Hydravlos) a water organ, invented in the 3rd century BC by Ctesibius of Alexandria. Interestingly enough, in the 7th century AD, Hydravlis was named Organon (Organ) and in 757 AD Emperor Constantine V the Copronymus, sent an Organ as a gift to Pepin the short, the father of Charlemagne. In 812 AD the Emperor sent another Organ as a gift to Charlemagne himself.
On a sidenote I've never been to a Church with an Organ in my entire life. I'd find it a bit awkward (at least)
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« Reply #43 on: June 02, 2008, 03:08:39 PM »

If they are demonic, considering the wall of guitars in my office, I'd say I was in trouble.  Especially my black Les Paul Custom, it's especially evil looking!  Shocked
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« Reply #44 on: June 02, 2008, 03:29:43 PM »

If they are demonic, considering the wall of guitars in my office, I'd say I was in trouble.  Especially my black Les Paul Custom, it's especially evil looking!  Shocked

 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

But I'll bet it sounds wonderful.

 Wink

Ebor
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