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Thread: The Various Ways of Listening to Classical Music

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    Thumbs up The Various Ways of Listening to Classical Music

    As lovers of music, we often find ourselves trying to enhance everything with it. Movies, games, even museums incorporate rhythmic sounds to strengthen the mood of a piece, or even as the main device to define the mood. It isn't just up to the artists what we apply our music to, however. We don't need to be told when it is okay to add music to an activity, and we take great pleasure sometimes in finding activities that are well suited to the addition of music.

    All of us listen to music in many settings and activities, but what is your personal favourite?

    Driving with music?
    Painting with music?
    Looking at memorable photographs with music?

    Do you like to walk in the woods with an mp3 player to a certain earthy composition? Or do you prefer to close your eyes in a dark room and let shapes form in your mind while you listen to music? Please share your experiences and perhaps some activities that have become infinitely better because of music. Paint a portrait of yourself in the scene of your favourite place to be with music.

    For me, I pace often. I think about life and I try to work out the next move in a creative work. Sometimes I hate the addition for music with this, because it controls my feelings and direction, but sometimes I LOVE it, for the exact same reason. I get into a vague dance and the ideas just come flooding in. I can picture exactly what I want. The room I'm in doesn't even seem to exist, only the world I've imagined. If the music is extremely atmospheric, the images in my head become cinematic, and I feel as if I'm walking through them while the airy and distant trombones tell me the world is desolate.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    I often have classical music playing in the background when doing my administrative tasks here, and on MIMF, our sister site.

    On longer trips in the car, I will play classical CD's. At home, especially listening to the organ works of Messiaen, I prefer to sit in total darkness and let the music totally surround me.

    Kh

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    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
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    I read while listening to music. Right now, it's Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Goes great with Brahms's 4th, Dvorak's 8th, and Hadyn's 60th symphonies, and sometimes Holst's The Planets. Dvorak's 8th especially seems reminiscent of the kind of parallel world that's described in the books. Hadyn's 60th, on the other hand, a very stately piece, goes well with the POV of Morgase or Elayne. Not so much Nynaeve. One time, Uranus from The Planets started playing just as the POV switched over to Padan Fain (for those not in the loop, he's evil and utterly insane, and Robert Jordan's narrative style really puts the reader into the character's head).

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    Senior Member SuperTonic's Avatar
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    I mostly listen while I'm at work. It always seems the work day goes so much faster if I listen to music while I'm working.

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    Senior Member JMJ's Avatar
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    There are really only 2 ways ... 'passive' (on in the background) while your doing other ****. OR 'active' ... where you give the music your undivided attention and do nothing else. Being busy most of the time ... passive is often how it's gotta be, but I try to actively engage & listen to the music in a focused way when I can - it's preferred and more rewarding.

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    I agree with JMJ that there are actually only 2 types of listening - passive and active.

    However, there are many levels of "activeness" or "passiveness" in music listening.

    Paradoxically, in some cases I listen to music more actively while doing other ****, than when I give it my undivided attention. It all depends on my level of sleepiness. If I am fully awake, full of energy and not sleepy at all - then I can fully concentrate solely on music. However if I am tired or sleepy and then try to concentrate exclusively on music - there are great chances that it will put me to sleep. So in these situations, when I am tired, I will be more active listeners if I do someting else at the same time, which will keep me awake. Such additional activity can be surfing the web, reading, watching photos and anything that is not too complicated.

    By the way, one of the best things to do while listening to music is walking! It's good for your health, it will keep you in shape, and at the same time, it keeps you alert and awake so that you can concentrate fully on music. The only problem is that there is usually too much noise outside, from cars, etc, and this can spoil experience a little. But, if you walk in nature, this is whole another story, and I simply adore it. I adore walking through woods, along the river or anywhere in nature when it's not noisy and listening to music.

    If I listen to music at home, while sitting and doing nothing else, I find that it's better to keep my eyes open, in order to stay more awake.

    Also - there are two types of listening while sitting and doing nothing else:

    a) listening with total focus on music - you are focused on melody, rhythm, harmony, etc.
    b) listening while thinking about other things - no matter how hard I try to focus on music I will usually find myself at some moment thinking about other things - especially during the slow movements. When the music is faster and more dynamic . it's much easier to focus on it.

    That's why fast and dynamic music can get my attention even when I was fully concentrated on something else - but small and quiet music usually doesn't manage to keep my attention. That's why I remember fast movements much better than slow ones.

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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    I like to read while listening to music. Oddly, I can pick up things almost better when I'm focusing on something else, because the music goes into my subconscious.

    I've never fallen asleep listening to classical music, by the way. It's just a bit too stimulating for me, even if it's something I don't prefer.

    But if I'm not reading, and simply sitting there and focusing... I like to contemplate the people behind their music. Or take it farther, find the person even behind the composer. They had ordinary lives (well, most of them), with thoughts, emotions, families, memories, and dear things to them, besides music. I try to figure out if that's at all portrayed in their music.
    "Music is an art, and art is forever. Music should not succumb to fashion, which is passing and forgotten."
    Glazunov


    Join TC's Official Russian Composer Fanclub!

    Oh, and, here's my professional website!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMJ View Post
    There are really only 2 ways ... 'passive' (on in the background) while your doing other ****. OR 'active' ... where you give the music your undivided attention and do nothing else. Being busy most of the time ... passive is often how it's gotta be, but I try to actively engage & listen to the music in a focused way when I can - it's preferred and more rewarding.
    I disagree with such a simple dichotomy, or at least how you put it. There can be active listening when you are not giving the music your undivided attention. It doesn't just have to be background whenever it's not the only thing present. An example I can give has already been given in this thread. The person who likes to read and listen to music at the same time (I do too!) and specifically chooses music that matches the tone of the work he is reading. Similarly, I like to look at photos, and if the photos I'm looking at are melancholic, I like the music to be melancholic as well. In that way, even though it was never intended to, the music can create a particular story for photographs, and direct your eyes and interest to certain parts, based on your active awareness of what you're listening to.

    I agree that listening to music in and of itself is quite rewarding and a great experience, but it is not what this thread is about This thread is just to post experiences so that other people who haven't tried such combinations can think 'hey, I'd like to do that.' As such, one should try to sell their experiences in this thread, for it to be useful

    By the way, one of the best things to do while listening to music is walking! It's good for your health, it will keep you in shape, and at the same time, it keeps you alert and awake so that you can concentrate fully on music. The only problem is that there is usually too much noise outside, from cars, etc, and this can spoil experience a little. But, if you walk in nature, this is whole another story, and I simply adore it. I adore walking through woods, along the river or anywhere in nature when it's not noisy and listening to music.
    I find myself conflicted with this. You're absolutely right that cars and such make listening to classical music nearly impossible. In those situations I usually listen to rock music or such. But even though I love going on walks, in peaceful, and serene areas, I can't bring myself to put my headphones on out there. I like listening to the water, and the animals, and the wind when I go on a walk, and I just think 'I can listen to classical music anytime, I should enjoy this while I'm out here.' I'm not saying you can't enjoy that, of course, but I personally get that kind of dissonance when listening to music outside.

    I suppose if you make a day of it, you can very much do both, but if you are short on time you have to choose! Ah, life Never enough time to do everything.
    Last edited by Wumbo; Jul-13-2010 at 19:18.

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    Senior Member JMJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wumbo View Post
    This thread is just to post experiences so that other people who haven't tried such combinations can think 'hey, I'd like to do that.' As such, one should try to sell their experiences in this thread, for it to be useful
    Right. I don't use 'art music' as sonic backdrop to assert or reinforce my lifestyle or whichever task I may be doing.

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    The slogan from my Walkman declares "every moment has it's music." How right they are.

    There is music everywhere, quarries, reservoirs, sewers, forests, motorways, castles, high streets; in the dark, at twilight, sunset, daybreak, in the rain, the snow, a hurricane, a warzone.

    If it wasn't for my love for collecting, making and playing instruments, I'd have more money to be in more of these places. I'm definitely an advocate for walking. Go on Google Maps or Visit [insert country] and go to a historical site. Even going to an art gallery or a museum will fill your head with music, even if Sony is on standby until the trip home.

    Gotta say though, don't think it has been said yet, my favourite way to listen is with friends.

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    Senior Member Earthling's Avatar
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    I listen to classical (and occasionally other music) as background, sometimes out of sheer lack of time. I also will listen to a new piece I'm unfamiliar with like this quite a few times, though of course, I do get drawn in at times, and focus more exclusively on what I'm hearing. I do this to just get a bit more familiar with a piece.

    But then I usually set aside a few times during the week to do more concentrated listening, usually lying down with headphones, which, for myself, is necessary.

    I do sometimes wonder if we are so saturated with too much music (all kinds)-- we live in a day and age where music is ubiquitous and easy to access (radio, TV, internet, YouTube, iTunes, iPods, etc etc etc) that we may not be listening to music with the same kind of attention. Oh, obviously there are wonderful benefits to modern technology and I use it ALL the time, but I sometimes wonder if music is no longer the rare even to feast your ears on and has merely become yet another commodity that we too easily take for granted.
    At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say “ah” and “oh” and “hey” instead of “yea” and “amen. ” ~ Wings of Desire

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    It's a good point that when things become convenient, we sometimes take them for granted and thus don't appreciate them as much, but I think for lovers of music such as us, this point is moot. When your hobby, nay, obsession, is art, you tend to savour the moments when a work is truly outstanding (as apposed to trying to appreciate the beauty of every photograph you see just because there aren't many cameras in the world).

    With convenience and ease of use, comes higher standards for the connoisseurs. Though this is seriously off-topic for something that isn't even on page 2 yet.

    Right. I don't use 'art music' as sonic backdrop to assert or reinforce my lifestyle or whichever task I may be doing.
    You'll forgive me if I find that comment extremely pretentious.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I like music when I'm at work or as background for surfing the net or reading forums. About an hour a week I set aside time to really focus on a longish piece or two in lieu of watching a movie. I give it my undivided attention then though not in the dark. I may be reading annotations or CD liner notes then.

    For mundane housework, walking, or bike riding, I prefer spoken word podcasts or audiobooks. They seem to keep me company more than music alone would do. If you are a painter you probably know you can't listen to words and draw or paint. It's like playing cello in a marching band. So for painting, sketching or designing, music is perfect. I don't do nearly enough of this these days.

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    Senior Member Earthling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wumbo View Post
    When your hobby, nay, obsession, is art, you tend to savour the moments when a work is truly outstanding...
    Do all listeners of classical music really savour it though? Enjoying a pretty melody isn't what I'd call "savouring" and for many people (who listen to classical or otherwise) that's about the extent of one's musical literacy-- this is mere surface listening.

    Of course I'm not saying we should become luddites! I just downloaded something from Amazon ten minutes ago...
    At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say “ah” and “oh” and “hey” instead of “yea” and “amen. ” ~ Wings of Desire

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    What does it matter if other people savour music? Your enjoyment of music is not a democracy, it's a tyrannical dictatorship that you lead with an iron fist.

    In any case, I find people often look at the rest of society and think to themselves 'geez, am I the only one who gets it?' It reminds me of Amadeus (the movie about Mozart), when Antonio Salieri is constantly raving about how only he can see Mozart's genius, and that the court is full of fools. We all like to see ourselves as the genius who can truly appreciate everything, but I think the truth is that everyone has very deep thoughts about their favourite works, and interesting opinions they typically keep to themselves 'because others wouldn't understand or appreciate them.'

    Or maybe I am just a little too optimistic ;p

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