Finding quiet amidst of the cacophony of our world can be a mighty quest, but one well worth mounting.
In 1991, we moved our family from the Los Angeles to the "country" near Monterey where night is deafeningly quiet and pitch black. The sudden change was cacophony in reverse. It was unsettling for the children until they learned how to listen to subtle sounds such as the rustling of leaves in the trees or the crickets chirping or the distant sounds of cars on the highway, or even the sporadic dropping of the ice cubes in the ice maker. We spent time playing listening games every night so that they could become familiar with the new sounds in their world and feel safe. Soon they were able to sleep through the night and began to enjoy waking to hear the birds singing in the early morning sun.
It is said that "music hath power to soothe the raging beast." Music does indeed hold great power to influence our moods. Anyone who has been to the movies knows that. Composers have learned just what to do to heighten the drama and punctuate the action in the movies. Music and rhythm in our world are freely used to excite the basest drives of the natural man. But worthy music can also be used to soothe and calm and exalt and bless. Music that is a conduit for the Spirit can be used to teach and comfort and is powerful indeed. That inspired music can work to bring peace to the soul. It can help that person find quiet in this world of cacophony.
I was visiting a church service once where it was obvious that an inexperienced organist was playing the prelude music. The volume and settings were so loud that my ears and my heart heart. Perhaps she was new to the job and was more concerned with trying to hit the notes correctly than being aware of the volume or the registrations (the selection of which sounds are being played such as flutes or strings or reeds). It struck me that maybe she had not been instructed in the art of playing soft, reverent music for prelude. People coming into the chapel should be invited to sit quietly and the prelude music should set the tone for reverent worship. The ears of the people should not be blasted with full organ registration and volume that should be reserved for accompanying the congregational singing of only the most majestic and powerful of anthems!
As the church service progressed, I could not help but notice that the registrations and volume never changed. It had one setting - VERY LOUD with FULL REGISTRATION! Because I am so sensitive to musical dynamics, I left that meeting with a headache and an offended spirit. You organists out there really need to be aware of your registrations and volume settings. Remember that the room empty will be different than with it full of people, but DO NOT OVERCOMPENSATE!!!!!! Have someone in the room signal to you when you have the volume set appropriately. Do not assume that you can hear everything you need to hear from the organ bench. Please do not allow the music at church to add to the CACOPHONY of our daily lives!