17 February 2014
Interpretation of Aaron Copland, “How We Listen”.
If you find yourself spending more time with your I-pod than your television, have a large hard drive for your computer devoted solely to music files, or make like the kids in the popular television series “Glee” and randomly burst into song, then you most likely consider yourself quite the music aficionado. An article entitled “How We Listen” by Aaron Copland suggests otherwise. In it, he breaks down listening to music on three separate planes simultaneously and how doing so increases one’s awareness and understanding of it. The three planes he describes are the sensuous- hearing without listening, the expressive- meanings and emotions behind or derived from the music, and the sheerly musical- forms and technicalities of music. The article proposes that only a particular sort of audience achieves this type of critical listening with any degree of success. Overall, I find the article well written, easy to follow and am even inspired to try and think more critically about my own listening experiences through its suggestions. There are several instances in the piece, however, where I find the author to be overbearing and pompous toward the average person or listener and am left curious as to his intended audience. While I clearly understood the aim of Mr. Copland’s writing, the article fails to drive his point home due to the inappropriate tone used throughout. This attitude is consistently seen in the language he uses while describing each plane and the listeners’ relation to it. As he delves into the article, Mr. Copland makes remarks such as “simplest”, “absentmindedly”, “without thinking”, and even “brainless” to describe how most people listen to music. (Copland, 1-2) He accuses them of using and abusing music to escape to a place “where one doesn’t have to think about the realities of everyday life” so of course they “aren’t thinking about the music...
Bibliography: Copland, Aaron. "How We Listen." n.p., n.d.
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