How To Listen For Music
How to Listen for Music has been taught at Capitol College and at Common Ground on the Hill.
The goal for How to Listen for Music is two-fold. First, the lectures should broaden the listening horizon of students. During the seven and one-half hours of class time, music from many centuries, cultures and continents will be heard. The intention is to expand the types of music that students seek to hear. The second goal is to provide students with a system by which music can be judged. That is not to say that the course is about a set of rigid benchmarks of what defines quality in music. Rather, the course will provide the tools by which students can make informed judgments about the quality and value of the music they hear. At the end of this course, students will have a detailed template showing the structure of a quality critique of a live musical performance. Class time will provide the listening and analytical experiences needed to apply the template to a live performance.
Download the PowerPoint presentation that supports the lecture.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THREE IMPORTANT SOURCES
A comprehensive, easy to read guide to this subject is Aaron Copland’s What to Listen for In Music. Aaron Copland is widely regarded as one of America’s great composers. During his very long and productive life, he wrote many symphonic and ballet works that are familiar to even casual listeners of music. His book on listening to music has remained in print since its original publication in 1939. Copland wrote the book for everyday listeners, not professional musicians. However, the work is so clear and valuable it enjoys broad readership among both those who want to understand music better and those who make a living making and writing music. Many of the ideas in this monograph can be found more fully developed in Copland’s work.
A second major source for these notes is Ernst Toch’s book The Shaping Forces in Music. During the 1920’s Toch established himself as a major European composer and enjoyed great public affection. He fled his native Austria in 1932 to escape Hitler’s anti-Semitic tyranny and re-established himself in the United States. He is widely regarded as a, perhaps “the” single link between traditional and avant-garde styles of music. The subtitle of Toch’s book is “An Inquiry into the Nature of Harmony, Melody, Counterpoint and Form”. For those who can read a little music, Toch’s book is very readable and offers wonderful insight into how music works.
The third source for these notes is my own book Music and the Hammer Dulcimer. This volume was written to support the first several years of a study on the hammer dulcimer. These notes draw extensively from the sections on composition and rhythm.
On to Listening for Music
Tools for Listening for Music
Listening for Music
Cool Is NOT Enough - musical criticism
Why Cool is not enough
Elements of Musical Criticism
Down by the Salley Gardens - a musical criticism
Sonata Allegro Form
How to Listen to a Live Concert
Time Line of Western Music
Sonta Allegro Form
Musical criticism applied to the folk song Down by the Salley Gardens
Plato's Allegory of the Cave
Terminology of Music