How to actually 'enjoy' classical music?

Hi. I recently got into classical music, and i stumble upon some pieces that really soothe my ears, and is fun to listen to. But, most pieces i listen to, have too much going on if you know what i mean... Like i know bach is legendary, and his compositions are gold... But some of his works to me, are hard to comprehend even if i listen to the same piece for a long time. Is there like a listening guide-line to classical music? I really want to explore bach's work to every detail, but his pieces mostly consist of more than 1 voice, and my brain seems to get confused somehow? I hope you get the question...

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Book recommendation before my answer:

    Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter.

    Now, my answer:

    Bach, or classical music? If you like Bach but do not play an instrument, you've probably already tried to follow a single voice through an entire piece. The man was the pinnacle of the Baroque composers, after which they "baroque the mold" (bad pun) and moved on to what became known as the "Classical" period. He could improvise an organ fugue -- you are not going to keep up with him, so when you get lost just enjoy the sound bath.

    Not all classical music soothes the ears, but it usually does so compared with the "popular" styles. I find that Bach helps realign my brain more than soothe my ears, and that opera is almost never soothing -- but that's just me. I like a lot of 20th century "classical" music, but usually only have time to listen to rock or metal.

    Rather than get caught up in technical analysis while listening, I suggest that you approach listening to music by informing yourself about the context of the music when it was written. Bach was inventive and profuse -- he had to be (20 children, commissions, composing/playing/directing church gigs, endless letters requesting money owed to him....).

    Philosophers, politics/economics, literature and art usually lead changes in musical innovations and ideas. There are individual guides that do better in some areas than others, but without greater effort I suggest that you check Wikipedia and Google for particular composers and compositions.

    I like to say that JSBach had perfected weaving gold from straw, but that's really an insult to the motif. If you can listen for a motif in any composer's music and hear how it is used, imitated or modified on smaller and grander scales, you'll have enough to start. If the motif is always voiced by one particular instrument or section, try breaking down the instruments into groups of "characters" (I don't think you'll find that with Bach).

    If you know that Beethoven dedicated a symphony to a general who'd helped liberate the common people from the economic and human boot of the aristocracy, you'll hear it when listening to the symphony. [The irony of it having been Napoleon didn't arise until after it was written and Napoleon displayed his true colors.]

    If you know that Bach never wrote for what we now call a "piano", you might appreciate what his successors were up against. [I seem to recall an account of JSBach having been sent a new instrument called a "pianoforte" which he reportedly smashed, but don't repeat that without checking it out yourself.]

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There are different eras for classical music.

    Bach is part of the Baroque era (roughly 1685 - 1750)

    In Bach's day and earlier - the music was based more upon individual lines intertwining - rather than an emphasis on a strong melody with harmony for support. Some 'easier' baroque composers may be Vivaldi or Handel.

    In the Classical era - 1750 - 1825 the emphasis was on meoldy, harmony and form. It is the easiest to get yourself into and the bigger names are Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Have a go with that first.

    The Romantic era 1825 - 1875 (there abouts) was stretching tonality and tended to break from form. But still a good place to get into. Later Beethoven, Brahams. the russians like Cui or Tchikovski.

  • 1 decade ago

    I suggest that you try to read some of the composers' biographies and find out in what kind of situation each composition has been made. Understanding the composers' lives helps you to understand music also better.

    But, I also warn you from NOT overanalyzing any music too much, sometimes it is just the best to only close your eyes, open your ears and mind and listen!

  • 1 decade ago

    Give it time.. you may discover as I did that there is a mathematical side and an aesthetic side, and they work together. You don't have to understand the technicalities to let yourself enjoy the music. Sometimes just try to let it happen, and don't evaluate. Let the rules and the multiple voices take care of themselves., enjoy the effect. It will all come together in time. There really is no shortcut to anyplace worth going.

    Source(s): I've been a performer for over 30 years. done my share of Bach, and enjoy it more every time I do it.
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  • 1 decade ago

    put the song on repeat, and listen to it over and over, and over again, focusing on seperate parts. That way, you can really analyze it and see how every part compliments the other and how they fit together in a genius way.

    Also, you can listen to a solo piece with piano accompanyment. My personal Favorite is Gabriel Fuare's Fantasie for flute. I played it for district band this year, its so good. There's only 2 different parts, but they are still intricate.

  • 1 decade ago

    do whatever helps you to relax... i used to listen with some candles lit, a glass of wine and a hot bath. try a nice cup of herbal tea and no other distractions. unplug the phone, turn the tv off and let yourself drift.

    another thing that helped me when i first started listening to classical was something one of my public school music teachers made us do - sounds dumb, but try it - take a big piece of paper, a nice pen or pencil that writes well and turn on the vivaldi. put pen to paper, close your eyes, and "draw" what you hear... just swirls and loops - make you hand go on it's own... also looks pretty cool when the song is done.

    good luck with your new-found appreciation!

  • 4 years ago

    i admire classical song too. it quite is non violent, you do no longer could hear people making a song (or attempting to sing) it quite is purely the song finished by potential of the proficient composer. - For some reason, i admire Italian song too!! like the style you hear in Carrabba's eating place or the Olive backyard. it quite is neat to me, and kinda romantic too =)

  • 1 decade ago

    try taking each peice seperately. don't listen to it all at once. listen to single instrument arrangments for several different instruments before you listen to the big picture. a lot of it just takes getting used to and the more you listen to, the more you'll subconciously notice. trust me, listening to it a million times will help.

  • 1 decade ago

    Try learning a musical instrument yourself. This will give you much greater understanding and appreciation of the music.

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