A post on Rupture the Rapture talked about atheist musicians being obliged to perform religious music and bemoaned the absence of atheist equivalents.
..Tenor voiced his frustration at the “dearth of music” heard at various humanist gatherings, conventions and the like. I may be wrong here, but what I believe Tenor is looking for is accessible music with a humanist bent – music that would be appropriate for such gatherings, but that is of such a nature that the audience could relate to and/or actually participate in. (Humanist karaoke?)…
I suppress a shudder at the prospect of an atheist equivalent of Christian rock. Please, no.
Still, I like the idea of a musical expression of humanism. I did a youtube search for atheist music. Hmm, most of it falls toward the Eastern-European-Heavy-Metal end of the spectrum but there’s plenty there. (I know there’s a well known atheist rapper but I couldn’t find a link and I remember getting distracted by the wonderful existence of genres like ‘nerdcore’ last time I tried it.)
In fact, thinking about “atheist music,” most music fits into this category. It’s not so much “atheist” as “nothing to do with religion” or inherently anti-religion in celebrating the things that organised religion tends to object to.
Sad to say, a lot of religiously-inspired music is pretty damn good. (Gregorian chants, Victorian hymns, Sufi chants, roots reggae…..)
I can’t see a problem with appreciating it as music and poetry. Music exists to move us and, among other things, it can express wonder and transcendence. Just because some people filter these emotions through religion doesn’t imply that we have to buy into their beliefs to appreciate their expression.
If everyone were to start only listening to music that precisely expresses their own beliefs, the world would be pretty silent.
(I obviously don’t like the idea but I’d have no problems recommending it to the people who think everyone else on the bus wants to listen to their tinny mono phonetunes.)
In any case, no one is put off Renaissance paintings because they tend to be brimming with biblical figures. Apart from anything else, we all understand that artists have to make a living. If you live in a world where the Church gives out most commissions, you paint the Nativity or write music for monks.