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Thread: How do you decide what to listen to?

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Default How do you decide what to listen to?

    Suppose you have an insane amount of recorded music and suppose you want to sit down and really focus on an entire work and not just have it play as backgorund wallpaper -- how do you go about choosing your focus for an evening's serious listening?

    How do you decide whether to explore an unfamiliar piece or revisit a cherised masterpiece?

    When I'm not just letting the computer / stereo choose things at random, I have this problem in choosing what I want to hear. I even stew over it a bit -- but then I consider that part of the enjoyment too. For me, it's a ritual I suppose.

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    I usually listen to a piece of music when I'm on the computer. I have my headphones on and it's just me and the music. No distractions and no interruptions. I sometimes even listen to a piece of music while I'm typing about it.

    Anyway, I don't really have any system of listening. I try and listen to pieces of music I haven't heard or that I have recently bought. Sometimes I'll listen to the same recording 5 nights in a row. It just all depends on how I react to the music and if it's a positive reaction, then I'll return to the same recording quite often.

    I also listen to music lying in the bed at night. I also get one-on-one experience with it as well and also this is where the very serious listening comes into focus.

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    I turn many, many pieces one after another and every time I decide that "that's not the one", until I found piece that fits my mood.

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    Senior Member nickgray's Avatar
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    I have this problem in choosing what I want to hear
    Oh yeah, me too... I can get stuck in a "loop" for as long as an hour in trying to determine what I wanna listen. Usually I have a weekly repertoire of small pieces, like sonatas, some chamber music, etc. and as for the big works - it's totally random. For example, today I finally listened to Mahler's 3rd after 2 months of abstinence from it, for some reason I became scared of the length of this work, yet when I've finally brought myself to listen to it again it just "flew" naturally. Um... I also have this list on my mind of works and composers I want to listen and get into, so those get the first priority. The second priority level goes to those small works I described. And ultimately, if I still didn't pick up anything it's either goes on random or I simply get stuck in trying to choose the music. Sounds pretty weird, I guess
    Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.

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    Senior Member andruini's Avatar
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    I just have my listening queue in the order in which I originally obtained the recordings.. This way I ensure everything gets listened to some time.
    Life is a long lesson in humility.

  6. #6
    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by andruini View Post
    I just have my listening queue in the order in which I originally obtained the recordings.. This way I ensure everything gets listened to some time.
    What happens if the next in queue does not hit the sweet spot ?? do you still play it?
    Personally I find it depends on what mood you are in at the time, most of my listening is chamber followed by choral, but there are times when the choice I have made does not grab me I have no qualms in taking it off and loading something else, even my beloved Ludwig v B

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    Senior Member Ravellian's Avatar
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    Classical symphonies like those of Haydn and Mozart are really great for this sort of thing, because they're not too complicated to where you can't appreciate it if it's just background music.. and if you want to sit down and really focus on the music, they're good for that as well, since then you can hear all the formal and rhythmic nuances of the piece.

    For large works that I'm unfamiliar with like romantic symphonies or operas, I need to be concentrating on the work at all times, reading the score or libretto.. so I need a big chunk of free time to do that. So it kinda takes me awhile to get into new repertoire sometimes, since I rarely get anything out of a new piece by just listening to it.

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    I tend to go for variety in my listening. I'll go from Haydn to Mahler to Bax to Schoenberg, etc. For me, the contrast brings out each style more clearly when I start to listen to it. If I stay with one style to long my listening is dulled.

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    This is an interesting one. I focus on listening to what I got recently or at least that is the aim. I often have music on while at the computer (organizing, looking for or doing my music blog). I am listening to Bartok played by Anda and Fricsay now - but I know this first piano concerto well enough. Sitting to listen and concentrate especially with unknown music can be a challenge. Quite frankly I feel the desire to sleep! With longer works. My attention starts to drift maybe - depending on the recording. I enjoy following the score on pdf on the computer while listening. Score following can be very involving at times.

    In terms of 'background' music where I may nod off, I would go for Baroque and Classical often - no disrespect to the greats of the genre.

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Books......

    Well, when I am not driving I often choose pieces to listen to again after reading about them. Just think of the books as the program notes because they walk you through a piece.

    I use the books to help me decided what to purchase and then enjoy reading the several pages that describe the composer and the piece.

    I place a check in the book when I have done that as some of these books are not something to speed read through and many of they I got off Amazon for a penny!

    Just a few are listed below. They are not difficult reads and you can sample many of them on-line at Amazon. I know so little I need all the help I can get.

    Music: An Appreciation [Hardcover]
    By: Roger Kamien

    The Complete Book of Classical Music [Hardcover]
    By: David Ewen

    The Symphony: A Listener's Guide [Paperback] by Steinberg, Michael [Paperback]
    By: Michael Steinberg

    What to Listen For in Music [Paperback]
    By: Aaron Copland, Leonard Slatkin

    The Concerto: A Listener's Guide (Listener's Guide Series) [Paperback]
    By: Michael Steinberg

    Listen to the Music: A Self-Guided Tour Through the Orchestral Repertoire by... [Hardcover]
    By: Jonathan D. Kramer

    The Rough Guide to Classical Music: 100 Essential CDs, 1st Edition (Rough... [Paperback]
    By: Joe Staines

    The Oxford Companion to Music (Oxford Companions) [Hardcover] by Latham, Alison [Hardcover]
    By: Alison Latham

    Classical Music Top 40: Learn How To Listen To And Appreciate The 40 Most Popular And Important Pieces I [Paperback]
    By: Anthony Rudel

    The New York Times Essential Library: Classical Music: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings [Paperback]
    By: Allan Kozinn

    Conducting Technique: For Beginners and Professionals Book [Spiral-bound]
    By: Brock McElheran

    The Art of the Conductor: The Definitive Guide to Music Conducting Skills, Terms, and Techniques [Paperback]
    By: John J Watkins

    The Classical Music Experience With Web Site, Second Edition: Discover the... [Hardcover]
    By: Julius Jacobson II

    Classical Music Without Fear: A Guide for General Audiences [Paperback] by... [Paperback]
    By: Marianne Williams Tobias

    The Classic Fm Guide to Classical Music: The Essential Companion to Composers... [Paperback]
    By: Jeremy Nicholas

    Classical Music Top 40: Learn How To Listen To And Appreciate The 40 Most Popular And Important Pieces I [Paperback]

    Why Classical Music Still Matters [Paperback]
    By: Lawrence Kramer

    Classical music [Hardcover]
    By: John Stanley

    Random House Encyclopedic Dictionary of Classical Music [Hardcover]
    By: Helicon Publishing Ltd.

    The Chronicle of Classical Music: An Intimate Diary of the Lives and Music of the Great Composers [Paperback]
    By: Alan Kendall

    Mendelssohn (Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers) by Moshansky, Mozelle [Paperback]
    By: Mozelle Moshansky

    Vivaldi: Voice of the Baroque [Paperback] by Landon, H. C. Robbins [Paperback]
    By: H. C. Robbins Landon

    Antonio Vivaldi: The Red Priest of Venice [Hardcover]
    By: Karl Heller

    Vivaldi (Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers) [Paperback]
    By: J. Booth

    Johannes Brahms: A Biography [Paperback] by Swafford, Jan [Paperback]
    By: Jan Swafford

    Schumann: The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius [Paperback] by Peter Ostwald [Paperback]
    By: Peter Ostwald

    A Brahms Reader [Paperback] by Musgrave, Michael [Paperback]
    By: Michael Musgrave

    Classical Music (Eyewitness Companions) [Turtleback] by Burrows, John [Turtleback]
    By: John Burrows

    Who's Afraid of Classical Music [Hardcover] by Walsh, Michael [Hardcover]
    By: Michael Walsh

    The Classic FM Friendly Guide to Music (Classic FM Friendly Guides) [Paperback]
    By: Darren Henley

    The Essential Canon of Classical Music [Paperback]
    By: David Dubal

    Classical Destinations: An Armchair Guide to Classical Music [Hardcover]
    By: Simon Callow, Wendy McDougall

    Who Needs Classical Music?: Cultural Choice and Musical Value [Hardcover]
    By: Julian Johnson

    The Life and Death of Classical Music: Featuring the 100 Best and 20 Worst Recordings Ever Made [Paperback]
    By: Norman Lebrecht

    Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet [Paperback] by [Paperback]
    By: Robert Greskovic

    The Lives of the Great Composers [Hardcover]
    By: Harold C. Schonberg

    Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! [Hardcover]

    The Vintage Guide to Classical Music [Paperback] by Swafford, Jan [Paperback]
    By: Jan Swafford

    Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music... [Paperback]
    By: Fred Plotkin

    The NPR Classical Music Companion: An Essential Guide for Enlightened Listening [Paperback]
    By: Miles Hoffman

    Inside Music [Paperback] by Haas, Karl [Paperback]
    By: Karl Haas

    Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera [Paperback] by Fred... [Paperback]
    By: Fred Plotkin, Placido Domingo

    Classical Music [Paperback]
    By: Phil G. Goulding (Author)

    The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection : The 350 Essential Works [Paperback]
    By: Ted Libbey (Author)

    The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music [Paperback]
    By: Ted Libbey (Author)
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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    Senior Member andruini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andante View Post
    What happens if the next in queue does not hit the sweet spot ?? do you still play it?
    Well, sure.. If I have a Mahler symphony next on queue but I don't feel like listening to Mahler I just go with the next one in the queue.. The thing is, I know I got every recording with the sincere intention and desire to listen to it sometime, so every recording on the queue is something I really want to listen to.. That's just me, though..
    Life is a long lesson in humility.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haydnguy View Post
    I tend to go for variety in my listening. I'll go from Haydn to Mahler to Bax to Schoenberg, etc. For me, the contrast brings out each style more clearly when I start to listen to it. If I stay with one style to long my listening is dulled.

    I have noticed this too.

    There are a lot of good ideas and methods in this thread. Thanks.

  13. #13
    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by kg4fxg View Post
    Well, when I am not driving I often choose pieces to listen to again after reading about them. Just think of the books as the program notes because they walk you through a piece.

    I use the books to help me decided what to purchase and then enjoy reading the several pages that describe the composer and the piece.

    I place a check in the book when I have done that as some of these books are not something to speed read through and many of they I got off Amazon for a penny!

    Just a few are listed below............................................. .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ....etc etc etc

    The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music [Paperback]
    By: Ted Libbey (Author)
    Cricky how do you find time to listen to any music

  14. #14
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haydnguy View Post
    I tend to go for variety in my listening. I'll go from Haydn to Mahler to Bax to Schoenberg, etc. For me, the contrast brings out each style more clearly when I start to listen to it. If I stay with one style to long my listening is dulled.
    That's exactly what I tend to do, I might listen to two contrasting composers in a row, or highlights from a number of cd's. I am also like some others above, I tend to rotate my listening, listen to cd's like that rather than repeated listenings in a short space of time...

  15. #15
    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default More books....

    I have enough books and music that I might not hear it all before I die

    That's OK, I'll just keep plugging along. I guess I really use the books to push me out of my confort zone and into new waters. After reading about a piece I am unfamilar with I just gotta hear it

    Any thanks to the many posters here, I have to hear your suggestions too! Everyone has something wonderful to contribute - Thanks.
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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