Hearing Music- A Guide to Music Appreciation

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Read Books, 2008 - Music - 368 pages
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Text extracted from opening pages of book: A GUIDE TO MUSIC APPRECIATION BY THEODORE M. FINNEY UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH HAJRCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY / Kj NEW YORK PREFACE MUSIC is the universal language/ 7 This quotation, perhaps more often than any other, is used whenever the occasion seems to demand that something important be said about music. It is almost always used with the implication that the universality of music nullifies the necessity of learning music as a language. This implication is false. Music, in the sense that it is a language, must be learned just as any other lan guage must be learned. It is true that some individuals learn languages more easily than others; it is true, too, that most of us have forgotten how we learned enough of our mother tongue to use it for communication. But it must not be forgotten that we do learn even our mother tongue. We study it formally as long as we attend school, and most of us never master its use to the point where we are independent of such aids as the dic tionary. The problem of learning is even more evident in connection with mastering a foreign language. The difficul ties of grammar and syntax, to say nothing of the necessity for constant reference to a glossary, make the process of learning a new language a poignant illustration of the diffi culties which the necessity for communication presents to the learner. For the ordinary person who wishes to understand music, its language stands somewhere between the mother tongue and a foreign language. He has been conditioned to its sound because he has been hearing it most of his life. But he fails IV PREFACE to comprehend much that he might hear because he has not learned tounderstand. The traveler abroad who does his shopping and eating only in the places which display the sign, '' English Spoken Here/ 5 has much in common with the person whose tired reaction to a symphony concert is: Never again. Both result from failure to have learned to under stand a language. This book is the result of some years spent in the attempt to help learners to understand music. Its fundamental prem ises are that music is part of the cultural heritage of all and that it exists for an audience which, in the very nature of things, is made up of listeners who are not professionally trained musicians. The kind of help needed by a listener is quite different from a training for professional musicianship. Conversely, it can be asserted with some degree of truth that professional training does not necessarily produce an intelli gent listener. The present book is the result, then, of an attempt to pre sent music to the listener so that he may understand it in telligently. Much that can be learned about music and mu sicians is of no concern to the listener as a part of the technic of his listening. This does not mean that any limit should be placed on the listener's curiosity about music. It does mean, however, that there is a vast difference between what he needs in order actually to hear music and what he might learn that has very little to do with his listening. It is not fair to the person whose interest has brought him into a classroom, where he expects to learn how to hear music, to spend time and energy discussing matters which have only slight bear ing on what he wants to learn. Learning to hear music has much in common with the learn ing of a verbal language. No one wouldexpect to learn Rus PREFACE V sian by reading about it in English. One cannot learn music unless he is brought into actual active contact with music. This book tries to encourage and direct the active contact which the student makes with music. The student must make progress in learning the language: he must himself feel that he is getting on terms of better understanding with music. It has been the author's experience with students, whose num ber now runs to several thousand, that the method which this book develops will produce that effect. Any book, however, can provide o

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