Analysis Of How We Listen By Aaron Copland

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Music plays an instrumental role throughout our lives. Before we’re born, many of us are exposed to music in the womb. Upon death, music greets us once again to mourn and celebrate a life filled with music. Music is truly there in every part of our life. Despite this constant exposure to music, we rarely step back to ponder how music impacts us. Do we ask the question “how does music affect me?” or perhaps it’s better to ask “how do I allow music to impact me?”. To understand the true impact, we must first grasp how we listen to music. We can turn towards "How We Listen" by Aaron Copland which showcases three planes of listening for reference.
The sensuous plane is the first plane of listening Aaron explores. He considers this plane the simplest
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Copland appears to be critical of the sensuous plane dismissing further discussion on the topic and challenging those who are overly engrossed in the plane. It is Copland’s belief that those who listen in the sensuous plane remove themselves from listening to the music and escape to an ideal world. Copland concedes that the sensuous plane is not necessarily bad, however, it fails to capture the intended complexity of music. Despite his critiques, I find myself frequently lost in the sensuous plane of listening. My main style of listening is to use music as background noise for my daily activities. Over the last week, I’ve streamed over 20 hours of music on Spotify. The bulk of my consumption has occured while showering, studying, cleaning, or relaxing. For showering and cleaning, I prefer more energetic and upbeat music. In the case of relaxing and studying, I’ll listen to slower and more instrumental music. In most cases, I am listening purely for the enjoyment of the sounds. I fail to give the music much more …show more content…
The expressive plane considers the meaning behind a work of music. Copland believes that all music has meaning that conveys “what the piece is saying, what the piece is about”. Copland notes that while all music has meaning, there is an inherent ambiguity that surrounds most pieces. This ambiguity serves as a struggle in our quest for understanding. While lyrical music may more directly display a message, instrumental pieces can leave many in bewilderment. Copland acknowledges that most amature listeners seek concrete meanings, however, a full understanding of a piece is nearly impossible to discover. Copland suggests the listeners should be satisfied with a high-level understanding of a piece but open to further explanation. While the story of a song may remain a mystery, we should keep an open mind to digging deeper into the obvious signals a song elicits. If a song is dark or sad, what type of darkness or sadness is being highlighted. I agree with Copland’s assessment of the expressive plane. I generally enter the expressive plane of listening during a performance to understand the message the songs are attempting to distribute. I also experience the expressive plane when I’m using music as a support during difficult periods in my life. During that time, I’m more mindful of the meaning of songs and seek to find meaning. the I find it challenging to find the meaning behind many musical works. I fall

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