Classics or rap? Jazz or punk rock? It’s hard to say where our musical passions come from. One thing is obvious: Being attached to a certain style and rejecting others, we lose the pleasure of being surprised at the new, understanding and appreciating the beauty of other genres.
How to abandon prejudices and open to unfamiliar experience?
Recommendations: How to Listen to Music
In the book “How to Listen to Music,” journalist Lyalya Kandaurova makes several worthwhile recommendations.
1. Do Not Build Borders
There is no “big” and “small” music. There is no music for every day and for special occasions, like a weekend suit (which you really never wear at all).
There is no “high and low” system where Mozart is located higher than, for example, the favorite punk band.
There is no rule that music should be listened to in one case, singing and jumping, and in the other, sitting on a chair with a significant face.
And do not assume that some direction is more privileged and aristocratic than another. Each musical style is rich and complex.
It is regulated by its laws, has its own history and mythology, its heroes and masterpieces, its rubbish and pearls, its mechanisms of understanding and listening.
Classical music is not boring and not more interesting than any other.
And besides, it is infinitely diverse. If you compare the Italian madrigal of the 17th century with the French electronic play of the 50s of the 20th century, it will seem to you that these are not just different styles, but generally different types of art.
Where you separate the “classics” from the lively, gambling, greedy listening that you are certainly capable of (do you have your favorite music?), Your own border will pass there.
It will remain what you refuse to know and experience. Is it worth it to impoverish yourself?
2. Do Not Listen To Music in The Background
… Unless, of course, you want to understand it. For the same reason, it won’t occur to you to watch a movie in the background, look at a picture or read a novel.
This applies to absolutely any music you want to read.
Take time and devote all your attention to it – of course, if you think that this particular music has something to tell you.
This is a little easier to do if you are listening to music on a physical medium. Imagine: you spent time searching and choosing, for example, a vinyl record, invested money in its purchase. Surely then you will be filled with respect for the ceremony of listening to music.
However, if you listen to mp3 with headphones, a careful “reading” is also possible: albeit on the go, on the road, while walking, but put the music in the center of your attention without simultaneously performing any actions that are more complicated than walking.
But what if you like cleaning with Schubert? Perfectly! Reading, working, cleaning the apartment, training, driving, cooking, eating and falling asleep to music is really very nice.
There is music (in all styles and genres!) That tune in to an excellent working, training, sleepy and digestive mood. But listening to music is not called.
To truly perceive and analyze what you hear, you will not succeed. To understand your reaction to this is also.
3. Listen to Different Performances
In most cases, academic music is a text that different performers can play in different ways. This is how it differs, for example, from rock, where performance is the text.
We can say that Prokofiev’s sonata is exceptionally good, but pianist X played it mediocre. But to say that Pink Floyd’s album is beautiful, but played and sung a little, will be absurd.
In the classics, the original is absent as such, and the performers try to play the text as accurately as possible, but at the same time find a way to bring special artistic content to their interpretation.
So: if we often listen to a beloved classical composition in one performance, then little by little we glue in our perception one specific interpretation and work in general. It seems to us that Prokofiev’s sonata is how our favorite pianist Y plays it.
However, if we hear this sonata performed by pianist Z, then it will seem different to us. Sometimes it is different beyond recognition because of the difference in pace, pronunciation and articulation of sound, the structure of phrases.
That is why listening to familiar music in different performances is so interesting: we recognize countless originals of one composition.
Due to the fact that the text is already familiar to us, the small nuances and details of the interpretations are heard very well.
Sometimes you can even catch the performer on the wrong notes! The pleasures in this case are even greater, and the listening experience is accumulated a hundred times more intensively than with the “ironing” of the same interpretation of your favorite music.
4. Believe Yourself
Heavy and old-fashioned opera performances, boring performances and false pathos – all these classical music greatly spoiled their reputation in the eyes of the modern, and especially the young listener.
If during an opera performance you want to shout “I do not believe it!”, Looking at the fateful suffering of the characters, do not think that something is wrong with you.
Do not be ashamed of the fact that you are “unable to understand great art.” Something is wrong with the performance. And well-executed and coolly embodied on stage classical music captures just like any other.
Question: Does this mean that any concert that I am bored with is bad? Not.
Boredom can be different. It is one thing to be bored because the performer on the stage demonstrates ridiculous, “sucked” feelings and motivations from a finger, or is trying to “buy” your attention with simple means, such as exaggerated emotions or high volume.
In this case, we miss the banality of the situation. It’s embarrassing for the artists and it’s a pity to waste time on them.
Another thing is to get bored from misunderstanding when you don’t know the password for music, don’t feel its language. In this case, we are annoyed at our listening inexperience.
Distinguishing one from the other is very simple. If you can reasonably explain why the performance or staging is worthless, leave the hall (only not during music, wait for a pause).
If the main and only complaint is “I don’t understand”, then try to keep your attention, and prepare better for the next concert.
After all, it’s like a hike in difficult terrain: you need a map, a guide and responsible fees.
5. Do Not Approach Consumer Music
We often think that music owes us something. That it should be pleasant, melodic, relaxing, should evoke some feelings – preferably inspiration, optimism or slight sadness.
Surprisingly, we feel nothing of the kind for literature. Or to the cinema: we reserve the right to shock, stir, frighten and confuse us, show things that are naturally repulsive or deeply striking morally, confuse us, make us think.
But the music comes too close to us: sounding in the headphones while we are walking along the street or doing business, it literally commands our pulse.
Music is like a close person with whom “demand” is always greater than someone else’s, and therefore it must meet our expectations. Must be beautiful. Nice to sound.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy music – it would be strange through listening to something disgusting. But she can deliver pleasure not only with pretty sound colors and a nagging motive.
Accept music strange, heavy, incomprehensible, unlike anything else, cold, ugly, emotionally crushing. Let her be free of your consumer expectations.
What you hear and learn as a result will reward you a hundredfold.