How to Listen to Classical Music, and Enjoy It

How to Listen to Classical Music, and Enjoy It - Culture - The Atlantic.

Excellent article in a series. This is the way I listen to classical music. Less theoretical and more imaginative. I "see" the music as shapes and colors, characters and moods.

Here are some excerpts, but I recommend reading the whole thing, linked above. There are video samples of music as well.

Many people have been led to associate the soft bowing of Mozart symphonies with soporific browsing. This is the antithesis of the intended effect. Audience members famously burst into violence at the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, as they did, in a more deadly way, at Altamont. Indeed, Stravinsky and Mozart are no more background noise than the Rolling Stones—or Django Reinhardt, Lauryn Hill, Animal Collective, or Kanye West. To enjoy any of them, you have to be engaged.

Another challenge, as others have pointed out, is that music in general has become a sidekick, a condiment for other activities. Seldom do we sit and just listen. I think of classical music as a bit like theater played on a stage inside the head. The spotlights have to be on.

Since the pieces seldom have helpful names or lyrics, I find it's important to state to myself the emotion a piece is depicting. Ask yourself: what is this piece about? Is it full of laughter, yearning, nostalgia, bitterness, rage? I actually try to settle on a word.

Since the pieces seldom have helpful names or lyrics, I find it's important to state to myself the emotion a piece is depicting. Ask yourself: what is this piece about? Is it full of laughter, yearning, nostalgia, bitterness, rage? I actually try to settle on a word.

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