«A SPACE FOR MUSIC Douglas Galbraith Some music lends itself to open spaces. The carrying sound of the bagpipe, so effective in rallying stragglers in ...»
However, in seeking to achieve this, the danger of a full-breadth platform creating a no-man's-land between pulpit/table and congregation should be borne in mind. Even in a long church, side-facing pews maintained the feeling of people gathered round Word and Sacrament. In very tall churches, certain orchestral instruments, such as woodwind and strings, will lose balance in relation to brass and percussion, and where the platform is too low the audibility of these instruments, with their high harmonics, will suffer. Sometimes carefully placed microphones and speakers can make up for the difficulties of the building.
ConclusionThese last few decades have seen many interesting developments in church music. The quality of composition in music for choirs is as good as at the best times in previous history. A `new song' has been put in the mouths of congregations as the faith of the church engages with the peculiar challenges of contemporary life. Particular attention is being paid to wider musical participation in the liturgy. In all of this, new relationships are building between the different groups who contribute to the church's music and new challenges and opportunities being explored. While remembering that church music is, at base, concerned with inner space, with the making room for the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people, when re-ordering or planning new buildings it is surely important at this time to bring all our creativity to bear on the nature of the space in which the distant but approaching sounds of the new creation may be heard.
Douglas Galbraith is Administrative Secretary for the Office for Worship, Doct rine and Artistic Matters of the Church of Scotland. He is Precentor of the General Assembly and Chair of the Royal School of Church Music Scottish Committee.
1 James Whitboum, In tuneful accord (SPCK 1996).
2 William Allen, Acoustic Treatment for Places of Worship, Ecclesiastical Architects' and Surveyors' Association, 1984.