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Elder Gene R. Cook made the following comment in regard to the standard for music in his own home. “We determined to maintain our family music standard of Church music, classical music, or other good general music, but no light or hard rock or anything like unto it.” (Gene R. Cook, Raising Up a Family to the Lord, 157)

Other leaders have likewise warned against backbeat or offbeat that is almost universally prevalent in music today.

President Harold B. Lee:

The hellholes of Satan are always made very attractive. [They feature] enticing music of the kind that appeals to the lower senses. Now, there may be good rock music—I don’t know what it is—but there’s damnable rock music that appeals to the lower senses of man, where the

offbeat [rock beat] is just as vile and abrasive to human thought as it can be. We say it to you, we plead with you to listen to the beautiful things, if you want to be on the right side. But be careful you don’t choose the wrong things . . .” (Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 104)

President Boyd K. Packer:

In our day music itself has been corrupted. Music can, by its tempo, by its beat, by its intensity,

dull the spiritual sensitivity of men.  (Boyd K. Packer, “Inspiring Music–Worthy Thoughts,” Ensign, October 1973. p. 25)

A common question that is asked is, “But what is offbeat or rock beat?” Below are a few examples of identical pieces of music with and without offbeat. An enjoyable activity can be carefully listening to and analyzing the difference in the spirit between the two pieces. President Harold B. Lee said that the elements of rock (especially offbeat) “[appeal] to the lower senses of man”. What spirit comes in once the backbeat is added? Why is that spirit destructive?

Family Legacy – Memory

NO Backbeat (mp3)

Backbeat (mp3)

Time Traveler

NO Backbeat (mp3)

Backbeat (mp3)


NO Backbeat (mp3)

Backbeat (mp3)

Family Legacy – Flow

NO Backbeat (mp3)

Backbeat (mp3)


NO Backbeat (mp3)

Backbeat (mp3)

5 thoughts to “What is backbeat/offbeat?

  • Corey

    I am not being cynical but honest when I say that I actually don’t think any of these are adding a backbeat. Musically speaking, I don’t know if you understand the concept/or how to create it. It doesn’t surprise me.
    Again, I promise I’m not being negative but honest.

    • Corey

      It doesn’t surprise me, in a good way.

  • Corey

    I think these could be more accurately termed off-beat. The only song that would be the easiest to back beat wasn’t backbeated.

  • Cris

    Are you saying that any music with drums is harmful and bad? Or is it just the type of drums? Or is it just the way drums are played? I like the drums that the Orchestra at Temple Square use, but they are not common in popular music. The kinds of drums that have been used in popular music, I’m not a big fan of in general. While I didn’t listen to the entirety of it, I didn’t find the backbeat, as you called it, disturbing in any way, at least the part I listened to. And drums are used in classical music as well, and some pretty out front. But popular music in general appeals to the emotions and has since time immemorial, even ballads where there might even BE any drums. Certainly a heavy beat will do those things as advertised in this article, but so will popular music in general, as it’s all about attracting one’s emotions so they will go out and buy their music. The biggest issue is for me, that while I can listen to hours of the Tabernacle Choir on the Sabbath, I haven’t quit gotten to the point of listening to it all wee, or even classical music. I can listen to elevator music okay, though, but almost all of it is just instrumental versions of popular music. And classical music can get very intense as well as rock music. Ending my rambling now.


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