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Classical Music for Those Who'd Love to Love it, but Never Learned it.


The Computer Audiophile
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Hi Guys - I'm writing a review right now about a product and used some classical music during the review. In the review I describe my absolute idiocy with respect to classical music. I'd love to love it, but I don't understand it. It seems so untouchable to a peasant like myself.

 

I started thinking that CA really needs a series of articles educating people like me in classical music.

 

 

Question:

 

Is anyone willing to write, by themselves or with someone else, a series of articles to educate people about classical music (with a bent toward audiophiles)? I would love to publish these on the front page and put them in the CA Academy as a great reference for a long time.

 

Questions, comments, concerns? Post here or private message me here.

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I wouldn't have time for a series, but maybe this could be a series from multiple authors, each covering a specific topic (instrument type, period, ?) I'd volunteer for one article.

 

We have many experts on this site, some with a particular focus on baroque, others on early music, etc. etc.

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I wouldn't have time for a series, but maybe this could be a series from multiple authors, each covering a specific topic (instrument type, period, ?) I'd volunteer for one article.

 

We have many experts on this site, some with a particular focus on baroque, others on early music, etc. etc.

 

I was kind of thinking the same thing - I was a professional singer, and have a pretty strong foundation in opera and oratorio. Perhaps I could help with that section.

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I was kind of thinking the same thing - I was a professional singer, and have a pretty strong foundation in opera and oratorio. Perhaps I could help with that section.

 

Well, if we go by genre, I could do the piano concerto.

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I don't know what it is that makes people love some genres of music and not others. It's no more necessary to "understand" classical music in order to love it than it is to understand Rock or Jazz. Admittedly, some classical music has immediate appeal and other pieces become more enjoyable with familiarity.

 

For example, everyone seems to love Massenet's Meditation from Thais as soon as they hear it.

Chris, is there no piece of classical music that just gives you pleasure when you hear it?

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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I don't know what it is that makes people love some genres of music and not others. It's no more necessary to "understand" classical music in order to love it than it is to understand Rock or Jazz.

Chris, is there no piece of classical music that just gives you pleasure when you hear it?

 

I disagree. The more you understand something the more you are able to enjoy / like it.

 

I really like some classical, but I barely know what instruments are being played, let alone how they are arranged on the stage etc... I also don't understand even the simplest things such the different parts of a track (I know that's the wrong word).

 

P.S. I just purchased a book titled how to listen to Jazz, written by a Stanford professor. It has increased my enjoyment of jazz tremendously. I love Jazz and think Kind of Blue is the best album every recorded in any genre.

 

https://www.amazon.com/How-Listen-Jazz-Ted-Gioia/dp/0465060897

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I don't know what it is that makes people love some genres of music and not others. It's no more necessary to "understand" classical music in order to love it than it is to understand Rock or Jazz.

I must say, I completely disagree with this statement. In my education work, I find that audiences are much more engaged with music when they have more "intellectual" information about a piece of music. For me, it's not a matter of "love" but of "appreciation."

 

For example, I love a good bourbon whiskey, and I find the more I know about it, the process that it goes through, makes me appreciate it all the more deeply.

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I think to understand classical music exposure to live music (in a good sounding hall)is essential to understand the different instruments and how they sound in real space. There is quite a difference in large late 19th century symphonic orchestras to small early music ensemble or contemporary classic even using electronics.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

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I disagree. The more you understand something the more you are able to enjoy / like it.

 

I really like some classical, but I barely know what instruments are being played, let alone how they are arranged on the stage etc... I also don't understand even the simplest things such the different parts of a track (I know that's the wrong word).

 

P.S. I just purchased a book titled how to listen to Jazz, written by a Stanford professor. It has increased my enjoyment of jazz tremendously. I love Jazz and think Kind of Blue is the best album every recorded in any genre.

 

https://www.amazon.com/How-Listen-Jazz-Ted-Gioia/dp/0465060897

 

By the way, your local orchestra is excellent. Try this album: eClassical - Beethoven – Piano Concertos 4 & 5, or even better, go see them live.

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I think the important point would be centering in on the ideal audience, someone like Chris, who has a passion for music but needs a little help appreciating why they love it. The Guardian did a wonderful series on contemporary classical music recently: a series of 50 articles centering on a single composer with a high-level overview of why they are so important and critical works in their oeuvre.

 

I could imagine a series of listening guides, aimed towards our target audience that might go much deeper than these articles allowed. For example, what makes Mahler's Second Symphony so great, with a detailed "what to listen for" guide and recommended recordings. Other general interest articles might included basic performance practice items such as the audible differences between European and American orchestras (how can I hear the difference between the Chicago Symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic?), the basics of "HIP" performance (and other performance practice trends), and important works of the 20th/21st centuries (which sadly are largely ignored).

 

I'm somewhat of an expert with modern music as a performer, and my primary audio passions center around recordings of Mahler symphonies, Romantic and Modern opera, and general orchestral repertoire. If any of that sounds interesting, I'll be happy to contribute in some way.

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For a first approach to the subject I recommend the Naxos Discover Music book collection, an informative and easy read.

 

And then there is Bernstein's "Young People's Concerts" DVD set, probably the best way to get you interested.

 

R

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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Howard Goodall's "Big Bangs" is a very accessible series of videos on major developments which shaped classical music:

 

 

As is the accompanying book:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Big-Bangs-Howard-Goodall-ebook/dp/B005G37S4W/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1479853084&sr=1-13&keywords=goodall

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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Aiming at an audiophile audience would seem to make a high level of detailed information unavoidable; music theory, examination of the fugue, music history, instrument variations and evolution/construction, the language of music, etc. You should have a few private conversations with qualified parties and narrow the subject down to something you know your audience will appreciate.

 

I personally would enjoy some well written intrinsic observations on how music changes over time. Time being possibly the utmost consideration in any piece of music and something classical genres encompass a substantially lengthy period of. Why most music is in 4/4 time could be used as a jumping off point to deeper lessons, for instance.

 

As for The Computer Audiophile's lack of classical comprehension, go listen in person and stick around long enough to go get drinks with the performers. You unfortunately missed a number of world class performers and the larger part of non-seasonal performances (Ole Bull on a fiddle he owned at the Landmark just last Thursday!) Barring a unrequited yearning to take in "The Hip-Hop Nutcracker" this evening or the next, I'd be more than willing to rectify this developing situation by forwarding tasteful suggestions. If you really like listening to someone croon the Christmas standards your calendar might even be full right now. Just keep in mind that nobody with your level of interest in music can fail to understand where a HS band went wrong during their MegaMall performance. :P

 

Edit: If you really want to see what classical performances are about it is hard to beat the web stream of this public broadcast channel.

 

http://www.classicartsshowcase.org/watch-classic-arts-showcase/

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[...] I really like some classical, but I barely know what instruments are being played, let alone how they are arranged on the stage etc...

 

Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is a pretty good crash course for that:

 

 

I also don't understand even the simplest things such the different parts of a track (I know that's the wrong word).

 

The Yale University

course goes into some depth about music theory, history and forms. Might be interesting if you have the time.
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I really like some classical, but I barely know what instruments are being played, let alone how they are arranged on the stage etc... I also don't understand even the simplest things such the different parts of a track (I know that's the wrong word).

Chris, if you can nominate some piece of classical music which you already like, then it might be possible for some of the more knowledgeable people on this forum to analyze it's structure, instrumentation, etc.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Einstein

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Is it too late for making a farcical suggestion to binge watch "Mozart In The Jungle" on Amazon? It might just set you on the path to seeing talking about classical music is like dancing about architecture. There is much worth in the math and science, but it pays to remember in classical times recognized composers were akin to rockstars.

 

 

I'm giving pause cover of the book series is based off would be too risque. This gets most of the way there to what you should expect.

 

QD5WbJB.jpg

 

Please don't watch this trashy show!

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Wow. As an owner of more than 3,000 CD's, of which 99% are of classical music ... and having listened to classical music all my life (since before I was even born!) ... I still feel unqualified to write an article on how to enjoy classical music compared to some of the people who have responded here. Full respect to the respondents on CA. I look forward to reading your articles.

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Wow. As an owner of more than 3,000 CD's, of which 99% are of classical music ... and having listened to classical music all my life (since before I was even born!) ... I still feel unqualified to write an article on how to enjoy classical music compared to some of the people who have responded here. Full respect to the respondents on CA. I look forward to reading your articles.

I bet if you tried, you'd actually be able to share something significant. Note that most of us here, including me, are amateurs, not professional musicians or music writers.

 

 

 

@Chris, I guess we need some guidance from you here on how you want to proceed.

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Howard Goodall's "Big Bangs" is a very accessible series of videos on major developments which shaped classical music:

 

 

As is the accompanying book:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Big-Bangs-Howard-Goodall-ebook/dp/B005G37S4W/ref=sr_1_13?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1479853084&sr=1-13&keywords=goodall

 

A good recommendation. Also by Goodall: The Story of Music: From Babylon to the Beatles: How Music Has Shaped Civilization https://www.amazon.com/Story-Music-Babylon-Beatles-Civilization/dp/1605986704/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1479848931&sr=1-1

 

And the accompanying 6-part BBC series:

 

 

The book goes into more depth.

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@The Computer Audiophile, I guess we need some guidance from you here on how you want to proceed.

 

Thanks so much for the replies thus far. I think a great approach will be to have a few people write up something in their areas of expertise / interest.

 

 

I'm amazed by the quality of responses this post received. Now I feel like even more of a dunce.

 

Anyway, I'll send some PMs and get the ball rolling.

 

Thanks guys for everything!

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks so much for the replies thus far. I think a great approach will be to...

 

.. catch a free and informal lunch courtroom concert at the Schubert Club?

.. poke my head into a student recital at the U?

.. put ARTS channel on in the background?

 

.. watch the James Bond movie he escapes the bad guys on a Cello?

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I must say, I completely disagree with this statement. In my education work, I find that audiences are much more engaged with music when they have more "intellectual" information about a piece of music. For me, it's not a matter of "love" but of "appreciation."

 

For example, I love a good bourbon whiskey, and I find the more I know about it, the process that it goes through, makes me appreciate it all the more deeply.

 

I agree with you about the bourbon (and the music). :) To avoid derailing the thread, I'd be happy to exchange a bourbon recommendation or two via PM.

 

Chris, I don't know if your daughter is old enough, but there's a Saturday Minnesota Orchestra concert of Peter and the Wolf in a couple of weeks that looks just delightful and will show both you and your daughter (and wife?) a lot about the different instruments/sections. Tickets only $12/person! Minnesota Orchestra - [November 2016]

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

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