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How We Listen by Aaron Copland - Essay Example

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In his essay, How We Listen, Aaron Copland classifies the listening process into three parts: the sensuous plane, the expressive plane, and the sheerly musical plane. I believe by this mechanical separation, Copland succeeds in discussing a difficult topic, so natural that most…
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How We Listen by Aaron Copland
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Download file to see previous pages He succeeds in the clarification because of two main methods:
People look on the sensuous plane for pure entertainment. For example, turning on the radio while doing something else and absentmindedly bathes in the sound. A good listener should realize that a lovely sounding music is not necessarily great music. I believe the sensuous plane before the other two is a useful technique since this is the plane most people often relate to the most. Second plane is the expressive one. Copland then discusses the notion of meaning in music. In his view, music has a meaning but the meaning is not concrete, and sometimes it is difficult for it to be expressed in words. This plane explains why music has a moving and relaxing effect on us. It is harder to grasp and requires more deep thought because Copland claims that meaning in music should be no more than a general concept. This issue is very philosophical, and one must accept the train to understand this plane (4).  
The next plane deals with the manipulation of the notes and offers a more intellectual approach to enhancing musical appreciation. The actual structure of the music as such the length of the note, pitch, harmony, and tone color are emphasized in this section of the essay. This fundamental study of the structure is necessary to form a firm foundation for the musical piece and to understand the diagnosis of it. This technical and more scientific plane is contradictory to the philosophical sensuous plane. For this reason, it is another useful technique of Copland to use factual observations to explain the listening process to the satisfaction of the readers.
After expounding his theory in the way we listen, Copland uses the analogy of a theoretical play to drive the point home. This is yet another useful technique used by him: it gives him the leeway to demonstrate clearly the interrelating of the three planes. Regarding the ideal listener, Copland says:
In a sense, the ideal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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