# How to listen to music This is not an encyclopedia, a textbook, or "music for kids. This is a guide for those who want to listen to music the way we read books: following the story, learning new things, empathizing. It is mostly about what is called "classical" music, which is what the listener usually needs to find the "keys" to. But the concept of "classical" has no clear boundaries, so with this book you can listen to any "smart" music - meaningful, deep, unusual - whether it be jazz, electronics, rock or folk. You'll read this book easily if you already have a little listening experience and an interest in music. Generally speaking, that's enough. Being able to play an instrument, knowing the notes, and loving to sing is useful for a competent listener, of course - but it's not absolutely necessary. I think it would be interesting for you to read this book with your parents, or to tell them what you have learned. Often even adults don't know or have forgotten about many of the things we will touch on. ![listen to music](https://i.imgur.com/mIfCaPn.jpg) ## Simple rules The idea of listening to music according to the rules seems a little ridiculous: after all, it is such a natural, organic, intuitive thing to do! Should listening to music or [mp3 download](https://freemp3cloud.com/) become an exercise that has to be done by making sure it's done correctly, like in the gym? Of course not. Music that finds its way to you, that grips you and opens up to you without effort should be experienced as something spontaneous and magical - bypassing reason and analysis. But it is only a tiny part of the music that we are used to hearing: only the music we are used to, the closest and most accessible. "Intuitive" music, which does not require skill to listen to, is not even the tip of the iceberg, but the snowball at its tip. Underneath it are terabytes of audio information, which still requires a navigator to comprehend. Just imagine how much beauty we are deprived of by reducing musical art to something that must somehow delight us by itself, without any steps on our part! That's why we need rules after all. That is, not even rules, but rather hints, reminders for those who want to become real listeners. ## Rule One - Don't Build Boundaries ### What do most people think? There is "normal music. Simple, strong, relevant, understandable, exciting, with a drive. Rap or techno, for example. And some distant "class music": conservatory, Mozart in a wig and red camisole, the shiny side of a cello, scarlet roses on a white piano, opera singers with their mouths hanging open incredulous. All things that a normal person would be bored at best, ironic laughter at worst. Warning: there really is no "big" and "small" music. There is no music for every day and for special occasions, like a weekend suit (which in fact you never wear at all). There is no "high and low" system, where Mozart is ranked higher than, for example, your favorite punk band. There is no rule that music has to be listened to by singing and jumping in one case, and sitting on a chair with a stern face in the other. Music can be simple or complicated - that's a fact. It can be elementary (and that doesn't mean it's bad), or it can be incredibly intricate. It can be vulgar or sophisticated. It can be popular, or it can be a little strange, "not for everyone". The main thing is that all of these epithets can apply to the so-called classical and all other music. The division of styles is useful only in a music store, in order to know on which shelf to find the right record. Even then, though, you wonder why this artist is in "rock" and not in "pop". Why this one was in "electronica" and not in "classical"? And who put this one in "classical" - because it's pure pop? Q: So there is no difference between the styles? Of course there is. Each style has its own set of features. If the terms "rock", "Pop, classical, rap, electronic and others didn't exist we would be lost in the musical diversity. But don't get carried away with the classification. These markers are just reference points, poles to which musical phenomena gravitate. It is important to remember that: - First, countless musicians, composers and phenomena balance on the border between classical and rock, or classical and pop, or classical and electronic. They may as well be classified in one direction or the other. - Secondly, each musical style is rich and complex. It has its own laws, its own culture, its own history and mythology, its own heroes and masterpieces, its own rubbish and pearls, its own mechanisms of understanding and listening. Don't assume that any movement is more privileged and aristocratic than another. There is nothing "elitist" about classical music; it is neither higher nor lower, neither duller nor more interesting than any other. It's a gigantic artistic field with centuries of history. Here you will find one thing boring and another insanely fascinating: to understand it, you have to know and listen, accumulating experience. Just like, for example, in rap. - Thirdly, the music that is called "classical" is infinitely different. If you compare a 17th century Italian madrigal to a French electronic piece. If you compare a 17th century Italian madrigal to a French electronic piece in the 1950s, it's not just different styles, it's different art forms. Yes, there is classical music, which does require an important concentration and stillness. There's the kind that you listen to in stadiums, with whistles and hot dogs. And then there are "classical" jam sessions (joint improvisations by an unlimited number of musicians). And then there are performances with video, lighting and audience participation. Where you separate the "classical" from the live, passionate, avid listening that you are certainly capable of (you have your own favorite music, right?) is your own frontier. Beyond it will remain what you refuse to recognize and experience. It's impoverishing, and it's very silly. Another question: But still, what is the "set of attributes" that distinguishes the classical from the non-classical? If you still need an imaginary boundary, these are the criteria: Classical music is usually performed on a standard set of acoustic musical instruments - piano, strings (violins, violas, cellos, double basses, harps), wind instruments (flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, pipes, French horns, trombones, tubas), and percussion (timpani, cymbals, drums, bells, xylophone, triangle, tambourine, castanets, etc.). ) But sometimes a saxophone, an electric guitar, beakers, a pistol, a piece of Styrofoam, a drum kit and a tape recorder are part of the orchestra, and this happens more often than you might think. And then there are baroque orchestras that play period music: they may have a gamba (an ancestor of the cello), a theorba (a bass lute, a plucked musical instrument), or a viola. Orchestra may include the gamba (an ancestor of the viola) or the viola d'amour (an ancestor of the viola). youtube.com/watch?v=3531lz3iBWA 1. Classical music is usually written in characteristic genres: opera, symphony, sonata, cycle of miniatures, etc., which are thus titled: "Symphony No. 1," "Sonata No. 29," etc. But sometimes a work is called Terretektorh, or Octandre, or The Circulating Ocean, and does not belong to any genre at all. 2. A classical composition usually has a composer who creates the author's text, which is recorded notes or with notes and some kind of instructions. Performers can then interpret this text in different ways. youtube.com/watch?v=qE_zhivfNyI But sometimes there is no text at all and the composition is, for example, a joint improvisation of several musicians. Or it is recorded once on magnetic tape, and then exists in that form, like an oil painting, because it consists of voices, footsteps, slamming doors and clinking dishes. 3. Classical music is usually arranged in a complex way. It has multicolored, unexpected harmonies, rhythm moves away from primitive repetition and "squareness," multiple events occurring at a single time, creating a multilayered, intricately arranged text. But there are times when the music is a beautiful, uncomplicated melody to a delicate accompaniment, or it sounds like a stream of noise that has no harmony or rhythm at all. Or it's three notes that are repeated a thousand times, like a spell. youtube.com/watch?v=v43kfAk37Ik 4. Classical compositions usually last a long time: an opera takes two or three hours, a symphony about 45 minutes. But sometimes an opus (i.e. one work) But sometimes an opus (i.e. a single work) consists of five tracks of about fifty seconds each. 5. Classical music does not entertain. It deals with the Big Themes: it piles up complex abstractions, it discusses time and history, the self and the not-self, love and death, chaos and predestination. But sometimes opera libretti (i.e. plots) describe frivolous, free-will and sometimes downright obscene events and situations, or the work is called "Lick My Ass." youtube.com/watch?v=k9w-04Hugbk If a piece combines at least a few of these conditions, you can say with some probability that it belongs to classical music. But it is much easier to listen a lot and attentively, with pleasure and curiosity, in different styles and areas. And in this way train your taste and memory, and gain experience as a listener. Eventually any music that you are willing to listen to with a tenacious, demanding ear, reading and analyzing, will open up to you in all its depth and complexity and take you over. - [Rule two - Don't listen to music in the background](https://exchange.prx.org/playlists/384764) - [Rule three - Know what kind of music you’re listening to ](https://hackmd.io/@delmer/know-music-lestening) - [Rule Four - Listen to different performances.](https://elink.io/p/98a9f83)