Thursday, June 9, 2016

How to Listen to and Reflect on Music

So, how am I going to go about this ruminating process, you ask? Well, thank you for asking such a pertinent question that I am prepared to answer. Outlined below is the plan for how I will do my listening and reflecting.

  1. Choose a musical work to listen to. (see previous post for some of my options)
  2. Download the score from IMSLP (if available) and find a good recording on Naxos or the Berlin Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall (I highly recommend a subscription to this) or YouTube.
  3. Make some good coffee.
  4. Read a little about the chosen work: reviews, program notes, editorials, performance notes, etc.
    • Why was this work written? In response to something in their life or the world? Simply as a way to make money?
    • For who or where or when was this written?
    • Any other interesting historical tidbits.
  5. Listen to it, following along with the downloaded score
  6. Write some notes as I listen:
    • Specific sections of the work that are important or meaningful
    • Unique uses of voices, instruments, or text
    • Prevalent emotions and feelings of different sections
    • The arc of the story being told
    • Any other miscellaneous or funny ideas that happen upon me
  7. As soon as I finish listening, immediately type some responses:
    • Are there any sections I feel as though I need or want to listen to again?
    • What emotions were portrayed through this work?
    • What is the theme or message of the work? What is it trying to accomplish?
    • Why has this work lasted (potentially) hundreds of years? Why could it last hundreds of years more?
  8. Re-read my notes and shape them into a blog post.
  9. Add some pictures/media:
    • The composer
    • The performance I listened to (if available)
    • Screenshots of the score to show something in particular
    • Any other pictures/paintings that may help to describe the piece in a visual way to work I go! My next post will be offering some of my thoughts on Listz's Missa Choralis. As always, comment below and let me know if there are other things you find important in listening to and responding to music. 


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