Monday, November 25, 2013


Inspired by a recent e.mail from Mosaic Records (I am a frequent buyer of their amazing box sets and therefore on their mailing list!) here are some thought-provoking words from Aaron Copeland on the importance of LISTENING to music:

"The first prerequisite for listening to music is so obvious that it almost seems ludicrous to mention, yet it is often the single element that is absent: to pay attention and to give the music your concentrated effort as an active listener.

It is revealing to compare the actions of theater audiences to those of symphonic audiences. In the theater the audience listens with full attention to every line of the play, knowing that if important lines are missed understanding can be diminished-this instinctive attention is too often lacking in the concert hall. One has but to observe listeners at a concert to witness the distractions of talking or reading or simply staring into space.

Only a small percentage are vitally concerned with the essential role of active listening. 

This lack is serious because the listener is essential to the process of music; music after all consists of the composer, the performer and the listener. Each of these three elements should be present in the most ideal way. We expect a fine composition brilliantly performed, but how often do we think it should also be brilliantly heard?

The destiny of a piece of music, while basically in the hands of the composer and performer, also depends on the attitude and ability of the listener. It is the listener in the larger sense who dictates the ultimate acceptance or rejection of the composition and performer...Unfortunately for music, many listeners are content to sit in an emotional bath and limit their reaction to music to the sensual element of being surrounded by sounds. But the sounds are organized; the sounds have intellectual as well as emotional appeal.

The adventure of learning how to listen to music is one of the great joys of exposure to this art...Your efforts to understand more of what is taking place will be rewarded a thousand-fold in the intense pleasure and increased interest you will find."

- From: "What To Listen For In Music" by Aaron Copeland

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