The unprecedented measures being taken worldwide to control the COVID-19 epidemic are giving the average person much more free time, solitude, and anxiety than they probably planned on having during this otherwise beautiful early Springtime. Many of us are using our unexpected time to pursue hobbies, get back in touch with friends, learn a new skill or focus on our health and fitness. Hopefully we also see opportunities each day to encourage ourselves and others, be it with logistical help, a chat or even a simple greeting. In this optimistic spirit, LGMS invites you to join our new Listening Club.
LGMS Listening Club is a new series we hope will be both enjoyable and informative for readers who’d like to learn more about what’s coined as “Western Art Music” or “Classical Music.” It has a problematic reputation of being high-brow and excessively complex, so we’d like Listening Club to dispel this myth, inform our readers so they feel prepared to listen to art music, and help our undisputed favorite genre of music reach a wider audience.
Many people who enjoy art music already may not be aware of its diversity. It surprises most people to learn that something as simple as calling this genre “Classical Music” isn’t quite correct. Technically, the Classical period was only about 70 years long, and while well-known composers like Mozart and Beethoven wrote during this time, most other popular composers such as Bach, Debussy and Tchaikovsky don’t belong to this period at all. More on that later.
The average song on the radio is 3 minutes long, whereas the average symphonic work has several parts and lasts between 30 and 50 minutes. Most operas and ballets are still longer. Even a classically trained musician needs to listen actively, using background knowledge about the art form, to maintain interest for that long. We’ll outline a robust variety of tools with which any and all listeners can practice active listening and enjoy music more.
Listening Club posts will explore one work of art music per post, and will attempt to give equal attention to contextual/theoretical elements and to the more intuitive reasons we enjoy that particular work. We will write so that the post can be read while listening to that work. We will recommend some recordings that we enjoy since several exist of the same work, but any recording you prefer will be fine. The more recordings you listen to, the more evident the performer’s interpretive choices will become. This is when art music gets the most interesting, when many people interpret the same piece of music and manage to make it sound different than how anyone else plays it!
We hope you enjoy Listening Club, and we are open to suggestions for works to feature and topics to cover. Please use our contact page to submit your suggestions and requests. We hope out readers emerge from the isolation period knowing a bit more about art music and curious to explore it further!