Appreciating Music: Can We Learn to Hear?
Thanks to NPR reporting about this study, I came across this article:
Study: Hearing Music as Beautiful Is a Learned Trait – Lindsay Abrams – The Atlantic.
I found it fascinating, and quite apropos for this blog. I know my musical tastes have certainly evolved over time, there are certain composers whose work I “get” more now. Like Debussy. It took me a while to warm up to his tonalities. I certainly didn’t seek out his music in high school. I don’t think it was until I played an arrangement of his Sarabande from Pour le Piano in a clarinet choir after I graduated college that I felt more comfortable with him. A few years later I played a band arrangement of his Engulfed Cathedral, which helped me
For me, rehearsing and performing the piece lead to understanding it better. Someone else (the director) choosing the piece forced me into studying it; I probably would have just seen “Debussy” and tossed it aside thanks to my preconceived notions him. And because I had those preconceived notions, I heard very little of his work. In my case, studying music theory for my undergraduate degree helped me. I know of some people who, once they know
Some challenges still exist
I’ll admit I still have trouble with some of the ultra-modern music out there. I do need some sort of melodic hook, although my definition of melody is quite loose. And maybe I just need to listen to and study more of it for it to make sense to me. There will still be
Part of my motivation behind this blog is to give you a starting point to make musical discoveries, regardless of your musical knowledge. Perhaps I can help ease you into some of the “weirder” stuff and show you that dissonance can be delicious. When I decided to talk about Malcolm Arnold’s Three Shanties I asked myself if I was going too quickly into the “ugly” notes. But I decided that’s the piece I really wanted to discuss, weird notes or not.
Give it a chance
I don’t expect everyone to develop the same love as I have for any of the pieces I discuss. However, I do hope you’ll at least give them a chance. Consider revisiting some you didn’t like initially in a few months to see if anything’s changed. If you still don’t like it, that’s okay – there’s certainly no shortage of music in this world!
Have you learned to like something? I’d love to hear about it!