Document Type

Contribution to Book



Format of Original

25 p.

Publication Date



Orbis Books

Source Publication

Christology: Memory, Inquiry, Practice

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

Shelves: BT203 .C48 2003 Memorial Level 1


In musical composition, a clash of cymbals signifies a dramatic moment in a passage. But its significance can vary. The force of brass plates can simply call attention to a phrase, voice, anthem, or transition in the arrangement. It can emphasize a thematic development, a musical notation anticipating a later twist or crescendo-or indicate that climax itself. It can signal a harmonious resolution of previous chords, or a rhapsody of dissonant voices. There are the occasions when a clash of cymbals heralds an extraordinary expression of musical creativity and genius: an adventitious musical gesture that brings together quite different voices in a way that enables the composition to express itself in a new idiom. At such moments cymbals announce a new musical vocabulary, a new form of expression. It is not just that something unexpected is said. The juxtaposition of the disparate voices creates a way to say something that could not have been said before. What it expresses is made possible only through the arrangement's invention of new possibilities of meaning created by its forcing a combination of musical phrases that until this composition had not been envisioned. The audience hears something it has never heard before--and could not have been expected to hear until this musical passage itself created the space for the hearing.


Published version. "The Clash of Christological Symbols: A Case for Meaphoric Realism," Christology: Memory, Inquiry, Practice. Eds. Anne M. Clifford, Anthony J. Godzieba. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2003: 62-86. Publisher link. © 2003 College Theology Society. Used with permission