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Thread: how we listen to new works

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    Default how we listen to new works

    A lot of people it seems due to understandable time constraints don't really listen properly to works they are auditioning, and scan through the work in an attempt to find something that holds their attention.

    I wonder how well Beethoven's symphonies would stand up to this kind of approach, I think many of the master works would fail this test also.

    Just a thought.

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    Senior Member shirime's Avatar
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    I listen to everything all the way through at least once before I provide any comment. I try to listen to something twice of it's 10 minutes or under. Recently a member uploaded a symphony they composed which goes for about 50 minutes and I am intrigued by the ambitious scale of such a work! I listened to parts of it, skipping through, and not getting an idea for the piece at all, just to give myself a bit of a 'teaser' for the piece when I listen to it properly later. Most likely I will only listen to it once through before I comment properly.

    I do have to confess that the reason why I wanted only really short pieces in the little composition competition I ran was so that I could give as many people an opportunity to listen through all the pieces as possible. Five lots of 20 minute compositions would have been too much!

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    Yes I try and listen to a whole work also, unless it really puts me off.

    I can totally understand the attraction of taking small (several second) snippets through the piece though, but I wonder if people who tend to do this have thought through what they are doing and understand the likely outcome - that they will miss most of the piece and won't really have a solid basis for their opinion of it.

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    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
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    I listen to the whole thing or I don't comment. I try to go into music I haven't heard before, whether here or elsewhere, believing that it could possibly surprise me, or that it could even possibly stand alongside the music I love. Most often I don't comment anyway because I don't think my perspective will be useful—while I have been composing for a large portion of my life, people who know my work will probably be aware that the methods and practical goals are different from writing scores and such.

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    My general rule is to listen three times before forming a judgement on the work- I lack the mental acuity to perceive the complexity/profundity of a piece the first time, although I can usually make out harmonious parts and general themes.

    Oftentimes a piece I don't like much at all on the first listening is something that, by the third, is something I greatly enjoy.

    In saying that, we only have so much time in the world. I usually let YouTube autoplay while I work which means I often don't know to what I'm listening... if something sounds nice I'll open the tab and note what it's called, and come back to it later.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    I’ve never seen anyone who listens to great works in the same way. Sometimes it’s active listening, and sometimes it’s on in the background. It can depend upon the situation, one’s kind of mood, and time of day. It’s never the same and so listing requirements can vary depending upon need. There is not just one way. After one has heard all the Beethoven symphonies, and you know them, there’s no reason why they can’t be on in the background as a companion to whatever other activities are taking place, including work. Sometimes new or difficult works can be better understood when on in the background and one is paying indirect attention to them... It’s a way of initially getting used to them, and it can be very effective to hear them that way because the conscious mind it’s not setting up objections or conscious resistance. But when the schedule permits, there’s nothing like giving any work full attention for the greatest degree of appreciation.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-30-2018 at 01:27.
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    I listen to things for as long as I find them interesting or pleasant. I find that most of the time, if a piece doesn't grab me in the first 5 minutes, none of it will.

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    I wonder what the average threshold is - 5 minutes is a pretty good go at trying something out.

    I suspect with many people it's less than 1 minute.

    That then starts limiting what sort of music you can write to get over that hurdle. Something with a slow atmospheric start for instance may switch people off.

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    Senior Member Tikoo Tuba's Avatar
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    Listen with a friend . Why be alienated ?

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I listen for at least 2 minutes before sampling through, unless it grabs my attention so much that I want to listen more to how it develops with breaks.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    there are few types of this question
    1. genius composition. I listen and during a few first seconds I have understood that it's genius.
    2. composition which I can not felt while, I listen it repeatedly until I understood.
    3. composition which I listen during few second and throw out it, because I able to predict what happens in next few seconds, or minutes. usually it is not interesting.
    Last edited by ollv; Nov-20-2018 at 18:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adrien View Post
    A lot of people it seems due to understandable time constraints don't really listen properly to works they are auditioning, and scan through the work in an attempt to find something that holds their attention.

    I wonder how well Beethoven's symphonies would stand up to this kind of approach, I think many of the master works would fail this test also.

    Just a thought.
    That does seem to be true for a lot of people. I think that's the reason that popular music is being reduced to hooks every few seconds. T.S. Eliot wrote of people suddenly stopped in a subway as "distracted from distraction by distraction." It's a challenge to hold people's attention with so much going on.

    Of course, we have the benefit of recordings, so we can program great pieces of music into our lives at the times of greatest potential for impact.

    In contrast, the problem I have with live concerts is, my work schedule is variable and sometimes I have to drop everything to expedite something, so I can't guarantee attendance or undivided attention. Add to that times of just plain tiredness and the stress of work traffic, and I can't guarantee that I can sit in a dark room full of strangers with a conductor with his/her back to me and an orchestra staring at sheet music and be riveted to the experience. And if the music is unfamiliar, it makes the experience even more difficult.

    Personally, I listen to new works for the first three times casually. That way the entirety of the piece is generally in my head. Then I listen more attentively. If it grabs me, I'll look up commentaries and mark the score for maximum impact. After all that, I don't have to listen with the same attention, and the experience becomes enjoyable. And then I can collect different interpretations, and that is when the real fun kicks in. And attending a live performance has less accompanied stress of tiredness or whatever, because it's less of an effort and more of an experience.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Nov-20-2018 at 18:37.

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