Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 46

Thread: I'm not a musician!

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    37
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default I'm not a musician!

    Something that has always bothered me is the general attitude I find amongst many in the classical music world, that if I listen to and enjoy classical music, then I must be a musician of some sort, or if I'm not a musician then I can't really "appreciate" classical music. Maybe you can tell me that I'm just perceiving this, that it is not really true of most people who love classical music. But I haven't found much to the contrary to change my perceptions. Okay, I'm paranoid. But read on, anyway, you might find it amusing...

    Maybe it's my sister's fault. She was a music major in college, and she was always telling me that I can't really appreciate music because I'm not educated in it. Meanwhile I was hard-pressed to find her ever sitting down and just listening to music. She likes the friends she meets in the music profession, she likes the stage and lights and the atmosphere surrounding the concert scene, but just closing her eyes and listening to it, I don't know if she even does that. I've never witnessed it. Maybe she does, maybe I'm wrong about her. But she's never done it in front of me.

    "Oh, you like classical music? What instrument do you play?" How about I turn that around on people and say "oh, so you like movies, what production have you worked on? Obviously you can't really appreciate Godard or Bergman unless you've worked on a movie set!"

    While I was in college, a music professor once told me that one needn't be able to read music in order to understand it. He made me feel better. He was but one person, though.

    I almost prefer talking movies to people, because there was never the prerequisite that I had to direct a movie in order to appreciate one. But when it comes to classical music, I've often found myself feeling intimidated, because the conversations inevitably end up being about technical mumbo jumbo that I can't understand, and everyone in the group is under the assumption that it is all understood by everybody. I don't hear most discussions on movies turning into what happened at the shoot the other day. Or maybe I'd get that if I lived in L.A. or New York. I don't want to be around people who only want to talk shop.

    I've been listening to classical music since I was a young teenager, so that's for more than twenty years. Do I need to know what this is called, and what that is called, to understand what is going on in a piece of music? Maybe I can't put a word to it, but doesn't one listen to music, not read it with their ears? Most illiterate people can still understand and speak a language fluently. I don't need schooling, unless I were going to play music. As it is, I get so much enjoyment being a listener, and if it wasn't for us types, musicians would be out of a job.

    And come to think of it, it's a bit of an insult to assume that someone who listens to classical music is a musician--as though one wouldn't listen to it unless it were work-related. Like they have to, you know. As a teenager, I often surprised other kids by telling them I listen to this music even when I have not been assigned to do so. "Oh no, it's not for school at all! I enjoy listening to it." "Naw!!!!" "Yes, I do! I really do! Honest!"

    When I was a young teenager, nobody influenced me to listen to it. No one in my family likes it. I came to it on my own, with no help from anybody. It wasn't a means to anything by my own enjoyment.
    Last edited by orquesta tipica; Jan-31-2007 at 04:25.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Posts
    205
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Interesting points there and I absolutely agree with you. While education, theory, history and even performance experience aids in the appreciation of music, it is not some standardized requirement in order to fully enjoy and analyze the music. I'm afraid this instrumental nonsense you're talking about, where we're all supposed to be "musicians" is a plague on the system. And don't believe a word of it. Before I begin, let me clarify that understanding the history, theory and terminology of music is vital only if the music is your life. If you're a casual listener, or even a semi-passionate listener, understanding sonata form and fugues and basso continuo are not required. However, in my experience, they are invaluable and can really add to the enjoyment of music.

    Understanding the development of styles, the emergence of opera, the influence of the Baroque composers, the entire 19th century... it's all exciting and should be explored to get that extra, some might even argue essential, flavor from the music. But don't let anyone tell you that you can't appreciate the music without it. Aural experience and aural interpretation is usually shunned by the academia, and I think their dismissal of it is wrong. Amateurs can hear inner voices and the structure of music, too; it's not just some high-brow circle of learned professors who have such advanced ear training.

    I want to take your sentiments in a different direction, though, by adding my own frustrating experience to your thread; it's certainly related to the topic. I have a personal issue with this narrow-minded philosophy that all classical music fans and in my specific case, students, MUST play an instrument. I'm actually encountering the very attitude you describe right now because I'm trying to apply to colleges as a music major. However, I'm trying to find a Bachelor's in Music History (very rare), as history and theory are my sole passions in classical music. Unfortunately, and quite frustratingly, most music schools I've looked at seem to want cookie-cutter music students who wish to play an instrument and perfect their technique. Although I play piano, I have no interest at all in being a performer, and I see it as a waste of time when I wish to reach the bottom of the barrel of music history research. I understand that keyboard proficiency and theory are necessary, and I was prepared to give them their dues. These colleges, though, stress performance to the extreme.

    Most of these Bachelor's in Music require an audition with theory tests, sight-reading and a varied repertoire in order to be admitted. Then once admitted, the student must take a hefty handful of ensemble, choral, and other instrumental classes. Senior recitals, multiple instrumental proficiency classes, and various genres of vocal study are the overwhelming majority of music classes; and this is just the general studies major. This kind of performance bias is just agitating, especially for me, when I spend all my time reading music history books and wish to delve as deep as I can into the literature and exhaustive history that classical music has gone through. Why would I want to distract myself with performing in a choir or in front of a music faculty every semester? I guess they forget about those who have ambitions for Master's degrees in Music History. It just seems that, in my experience at least, the prevailing mindset in these colleges is that all music students must play an instrument not only proficiently, but as if they were hoping to be stellar performers. The field of music history is just not embraced as it should be; it's a vast and expansive field, but most (not all) music departments want outstanding performers with only a rudimentary, even jack-of-all-trades, knowledge of the music history.

    You're absolutely spot on with your film analogy that if one watches movies, one must also create them? Art history students are not required to draw and literature students don't have to write literature. But Art history students can still learn the painting techniques, the influence of history on the artists, and the styles that developed. They have no need to paint in order to become knowledgeable. Literature students can study and analyze every line of Shakespeare, but do they have to write a sonnet in order to appreciate Shakespeare? No. So why isn't music considered in the same category? I frankly don't know.

    Perhaps the music schools, then, are the cause for this elitist outlook that classical music is a genre that can only be appreciated by performers. That's, at least, how I gauge it after my dispiriting experience.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    37
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hexameron View Post
    Interesting points there and I absolutely agree with you. While education, theory, history and even performance experience aids in the appreciation of music, it is not some standardized requirement in order to fully enjoy and analyze the music. I'm afraid this instrumental nonsense you're talking about, where we're all supposed to be "musicians" is a plague on the system. And don't believe a word of it. Before I begin, let me clarify that understanding the history, theory and terminology of music is vital only if the music is your life. If you're a casual listener, or even a semi-passionate listener, understanding sonata form and fugues and basso continuo are not required. However, in my experience, they are invaluable and can really add to the enjoyment of music.

    Understanding the development of styles, the emergence of opera, the influence of the Baroque composers, the entire 19th century... it's all exciting and should be explored to get that extra, some might even argue essential, flavor from the music. But don't let anyone tell you that you can't appreciate the music without it.
    I don't mean to suggest that I have no interest in studying the history and structures of music, but I only do so for the love of it and wanting to understand contexts and meanings behind it, and such--not because I'm learning to play it. I do the same with movies. I'll read books containing analyses of directors' work, such as I love the films of Antonioni so I have a bunch of books on him. It only seems natural to me, for one to desire knowing more about what he is impassioned about. But, I don't do it as a means to anything but my further enjoyment of it.

    By the way, I read a fascinating little book some years ago by the musicologist, Hans Moldenhauer, called "The Death of Anton Webern: a drama in documents." It's not much more than a hundred pages long, and it's a really touching story. If you haven't read it already, I thought you might want to check that one out.

  4. #4
    Andante
    Guest

    Default

    Hexamoran, I agree with the points that you are making, there are several different aspects of music that one can get into and study and being a non musician, historian, composer etc does not stop anyone enjoying music. however to understand what is going on in the particular piece makes it more enjoyable IMO.
    I think a musician will approach it through the eyes of his instrument and appreciate the technical side of it, a historian will be able to tell how time has evolved the genre, a composer will appreciate the form and structure etc.
    So orquesta tipica you are right, not being a musician does not stop enjoyment, but can add to it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Prague, CZ
    Posts
    489
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    To take this discussion to a funnier place, consider the following (true/legendary) story.

    Sibelius was asked why he keeps company mostly with businessmen and not musicians. "What on Earth do you talk to them about?"

    Sibelius replied...

    "Music, of course. The only thing musicians ever want to talk about is money."

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Córdoba. Argentina
    Posts
    946
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by orquesta tipica View Post
    Something that has always bothered me is the general attitude I find amongst many in the classical music world, that if I listen to and enjoy classical music, then I must be a musician of some sort, or if I'm not a musician then I can't really "appreciate" classical music. Maybe you can tell me that I'm just perceiving this, that it is not really true of most people who love classical music. But I haven't found much to the contrary to change my perceptions. Okay, I'm paranoid. But read on, anyway, you might find it amusing...

    I agree with you, as it is my idea that to enjoy (or understand partially) classical music being a musician yourself is not a prerequisite. However, I think we should all agree that if you happen to learn to play an instrument in a profficient level, and acquire general or in-depth knowledge in the fields of theory, harmony, orchestration, etc you can enjoy and understand music a zillion times more than without that musical education. If you play piano you notice a lot of resources pianists use whenever you attend a concert or listen to a cd. I've been playing the violin for 9 months now and I can't really explain how much it helps me when listening orchestral music.

    On the other side, it's true that if educated, your appreciation of music can turn to be a bit technical, and the most you know, the most quirurgical the listening process tends to be.

    As an anecdote... when I was 9 I listened to Tchaikovsky's first piano concert a lot. And for me, the arpeggios played by the woods in the middle section of the first movement looked like bubbles ascending from the bottom of the sea. Now for me they are just arpeggios.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel View Post
    ..... I think we should all agree that if you happen to learn to play an instrument in a profficient level, and acquire general or in-depth knowledge in the fields of theory, harmony, orchestration, etc you can enjoy and understand music a zillion times more than without that musical education. .....(
    A zillion times, ay? Are you sure? That's like saying if you don't meet these standards you may as well not bother listening.

  8. #8
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Córdoba. Argentina
    Posts
    946
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Topaz View Post
    A zillion times, ay? Are you sure? That's like saying if you don't meet these standards you may as well not bother listening.
    Not really. My point is that you an always enjoy music, but that enjoyment can be multiplied many times if you have a formal musical education. This will allow you to understand orchestration, the way the motifs are developed by the composer, inversions, contrapunctual staff, retrogads. There are many things you lose if you are unable to read a score, for example. And even if you can read it on a basic level, there's more you can get from it with a complex musical background.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Does this argument only apply to classical music, or to all music?

  10. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Córdoba. Argentina
    Posts
    946
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Topaz View Post
    Does this argument only apply to classical music, or to all music?
    Non classical western music usually complies with the traditional ABA standard. Heavy musical training is not, IMO, necessary in this case.

    Even if you can read orchestral scores, I don't think it would be a great help approaching Hip-Hop.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Does it apply to all classical music? If not where do you draw the line?

  12. #12
    Member johnnyx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    53
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    "Enjoyment" is in the ears, mind, and heart of the listener. You may enjoy music because of how it makes you feel, the structure of the composition, the memories it evokes, the emotions it evokes, the sound of a certain instrument(s), the skills of the performers, the history behind it, the sense of community you get in relation to others who enjoy the same music, etc., etc., etc. I disagree that your "enojyment" of music, generally speaking, necessarily increases based on your knowledge of theory and/or you ability to play an instrument. I would even go so far as to suggest the opposite could be true in some cases, where a highly skilled, highly knowledgable musician (say a pianist), might experience a decrease in his/her enjoyment of some music (say symphonies) over the years.

    I am a guitar player. I can say from my experiences that the knowledge I have gained as a musician has increased my appreciation and enjoyment of some music, and decreased my appreciation and enjoyment of some music, but many other factors play a large part in my "enjoyment" of music.

    I do, however, enjoy this discussion very much!
    I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    313
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    johhnyx: As you will see, I am trying to tease out the arguments from Manuel to clarify this kind of thinking. I'd like to know whether his view applies across all classical music or only to certain parts of it, and why it doesn't apply to non-classical music. Let's see what the answer is.

  14. #14
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Córdoba. Argentina
    Posts
    946
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Topaz View Post
    Does it apply to all classical music? If not where do you draw the line?
    I think you're trying to make to much of this. I only support that with formal music education you can enjoy music the most. If you can handle to use the training to comprehend what you hear, and not just use it in a quirurgical and technical process, disecting what you hear in cold analysis. What you do with your knowledge, and the way it affects how you feel the music, depends on everyone.

    IMO, pop music is off because is a lot simpler: simple structure, simple lyrics, simple tonalities and development of the motifs, if any.

  15. #15
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Córdoba. Argentina
    Posts
    946
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    It's also other way to appreciate how great some composers were. Take a look at the image I attach.
    He composed the whole movement from the three notes in red. Just three. And it's almost ten minutes long.

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 42
    Last Post: Jan-24-2018, 16:44
  2. Once upon a time musician here...
    By PianoMan in forum New Members - Introductions
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Mar-13-2005, 07:47
  3. Florian the Musician
    By Quaverion in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Jan-21-2005, 12:04
  4. Hello from a Canadian musician
    By krishna in forum New Members - Introductions
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Aug-07-2004, 09:15

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •