In his essay "How We Listen," Aaron Copland classifies and divides the listening process into three parts: "the sensuous place, the expressive plane, and the sheerly musical plane" (1074). I believe by this mechanical separation, Copland succeeds in discussing difficult topic, so natural that most people tend to by pass it. He uses analogy and sometimes stresses on certain situation where these planes are abused or become a cause of a problem. The main purpose for Copland to separate the listening process is for the reader to learn and study how they listen. Copland's success in the clarification mainly because of two methods: (1) Categorizing the listening process in different parts and use an analogy to unite it to bring back the general idea of the listening process and (2) by answering and addressing to problems so the readers will understand and have a different view of the text.
Categorizing the listening process
People listen on the sensuous plane for pure entertainment. For example, "turning one the radio while doing something else and absentmindedly bathes in the sound" (1074). Copland continues talking about the "sound stuff" (1075) and how composers manipulate it differently. Good listener should realize that lovely sounding music is not necessarily great music. I believe putting the "sensuous plane" before the other two is a good technique, since this is the plane most people often relates to. Second plane is the expressive one. Copland now discusses the notion of meaning in music. In his view, music has a meaning but this meaning is not concrete and sometimes it cannot be expressed in words. This plane explains why we get moved or relaxed by music. It is more difficult to grasp and required more deep thought because Copland claims that meaning in music should be no more "than a general concept" (1076). This issue is very philosophical and one must accept the train to understand this plane. The next plane deals with the manipulation of the notes...
Cited: Copland, Aaron "How We Listen," The Norton Reader.
Eds. Linda H. Peterson, John C. Brereton, and Joan Hartman.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.
1175 - 1179
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