What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland

What to Listen for in Music

In this fascinating analysis of how to listen to music intelligently, Aaron Copland raises two basic questions: Are you hearing everything that is going on? Are you really being sensitive to it? If you cannot answer yes to both questions, you owe it to yourself to read this book. Whether you listen to Mozart or Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland's provocative suggestions for listening to music from his point of view will bring you a deeper appreciatio...

Details What to Listen for in Music

TitleWhat to Listen for in Music
Release DateNov 5th, 2002
PublisherSignet Classics
GenreMusic, Nonfiction, Art

Reviews What to Listen for in Music

  • Jana Light
    This is a fantastic book for the layperson who wants to become a more intelligent listener and who wants to understand more of what is going on in classical music (note: all classical music, not just the Classical period). Copland begins with an explanation of what music is and how it functions, moves to instruments, then to forms, adds an apologist chapter for contemporary music, and finishes with a chapter of what it means to be a good listener...
  • Michelle Curie
    "We expect a fine composition brilliantly performed, but how often do we think that it should also be brilliantly heard?" Music is notoriously difficult to write about and classical music particularly is notoriously difficult to listen to. Aaron Copland, an important composer and conductor of the 20th century himself, makes you disagree with both. This is the perfect book for people who want to enhance their own listening experience and broaden t...
  • David
    Aaron Copland (1900-1990) stands as one of the giants of American composers. Charged by his French music teacher to produce an authentic American style of music, he would compose classics such as Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, and Rodeo. Copland also would conduct, teach, and write over the course of his prodigious career.Based on a series of lectures and first published in 1939, What to Listen for in Music remains in print. Along with his co...
  • Jee Koh
    A basic and helpful introduction to music for someone like me, i.e., no music training beyond playing the pianica in primary school, and strumming the guitar round campfires in high school. In this book first written in the 1930s, Copland distinguishes between listening on a sensuous plane (mere enjoyment of the quality of sound) and on expressive and sheerly musical planes. While not slighting the first, he contends that a better understanding o...
  • Quiver
    If you do not have any musical training, but are a fan of the aural arts, you might be tempted by a book which promises to show you what you're missing out on. Copland's is a good starting point. He identifies three planes of listening: the sensuous (which is practised by anyone who enjoys music by "getting lost in it"), the expressive (which is practised by anyone who tries to understand the mood, the message, the idea behind the music), and fin...
  • Kristin Shafel
    2.5/5 stars. Full disclosure: I am a professionally trained musician (bachelor and master's degrees in composition, double bassist for more than fifteen years), so I realize this book isn't really intended for a person like me. But from a historical standpoint, I do appreciate this set of lessons. Through most of it, it was a nice little refresher for me. Everything is educational from a technical standpoint, and it was interesting to read a comp...
  • Carol
    I found this book very interesting, and thought it said more about its author than its subject, at least for me. Copland provides explanations of and thoughts on all the main elements of and aspects of music: melody, rhythm, harmony, and formal structure, plus some additional special topics like opera, film music, and contemporary music. Copland's aim is to help the non-musician become a better, more sophisticated listener, so none of the informa...
  • Tara Brabazon
    This book is cut up by a damaging assumption: classical music is difficult. Popular music is easy. Therefore elitism reduces the usefulness of this book.The best components of the book probe the four essential elements to music: rhythm, melody, harmony and tone colour. Besides that - it is not worth reading.
  • Genni
    A wonderful explanation of the basic principles of classical music, not an easy task! He also does an admirable job of attempting to put in words some of the more mysterious elements of music. Although I have a degree in music, I still learned a few things, and benefitted from those things that were review. What I enjoyed the most about this book, indeed, the reason I read it, was "listening" to Aaron Copland talk about music. You can often learn...
  • Martin Read
    I enjoyed reading it. I felt that it improved my understanding of classical form considerably although my lack of musical knowledge made some chapters difficult. I have been reading it in conjunction with Bernstein and a variety of Youtube clips. I think it's a book I shall return to on occasion to deepen my understanding. I've already gained immensely in the area of early 20th century works and am looking forward to extending my listening range....
  • Michael Finocchiaro
    This is a wonderful introduction to "classical" music by the American composer Aaron Copland. It is highly readable and chockfull of examples for laymen like myself armed with Deezer and largely illiterate in reading musical scores. It definitely enhanced immensely my listening skills and opened my mind to new works and composers with which I was previously unfamiliar. A must.
  • Michael Laflamme
    Copland takes a fascinating topic and manages to make it seem tedious. Fraught with elitist overtones, this book takes on the tone of a lecture by an academic long past the prime of his tenure. Classical music is fascinating, a joy, a thrilling adventure. In Copland's hands it feels as if was left too long in a dehydrator.
  • JJ
    A tight overview of the most significant things to look out for when listening to classical music. This guide is a very easy read for anyone with at least a rudimentary musical education, and is unlikely to lose many readers who lack one. Perhaps some of the discussion on harmony might be a little confusing, but if one takes it slowly, it is not difficult.For the uninitiated, Aaron Copland, the author, is one of the most highly regarded American ...
  • Thuy Dinh
    Great introduction to classical music for laylistener, but written in textbook style. Still a very good book for a fan of aural arts to begin with
  • Matteo
    While this book may clarify musical forms in the way an "Introduction to Music Appreciation" lecture might, its chapters on "Contemporary Music" (c. 1939) and "Film Music" are so short as to be meaningless, and even if they were more expansive, they have not aged well.
  • Philip Riley
    This book starts from a simple base, dissecting aspects of classical music. While this can get boring for page after page, it does sink in and helps one appreciate the varied forms of that style. Aaron Copland has a strong personality in his writing. At times I found this off putting, but it also helped color the text. He references plenty of pieces, so I found myself listening to a lot of music I probably would not have listened to otherwise. (J...
  • Paul
    A very nice book if you want to understand classical music better. I'm a regular concert goer, with some background in music, but nothing really in classical. I've been curious about the forms of the music and how to better understand this sometimes complex music I hear in the concert hall.This book was a great introduction. It gives you tips and ideas for listening to the different elements of classical music, melody, harmony, rhythm with exampl...
  • Paul Manytravels
    Composer Aaron Copeland begins by reminding people that the best way to learn to appreciate music is to just listen to it. Nevertheless, understanding a little about the various elements that comprise music, the building blocks of a composition, can help listeners not only enjoy but also more deeply understand any musical composition.I cannot say I have completed the book because I am actually reading it more like a study guide or textbook. I rea...
  • Timothy
    Standard issue for Freshman majors (or it least it was once upon a time) "What to Listen for..." runs the traditional wire between genuine approachability, and the deeper, music-nerd-driven understanding of music, composition, form, and the artist's own context.Although this is not quite the emotional trip as "Joy of Music" by Bernstein, it is the affections of a master laid in front of those of us who are interested. Highly recommended as a firs...
  • Eric McLean
    This book is probably great for musicians, but non-musicians should be careful picking this up. I am a musician and read this as part of a Humanities class and was worried about half the people in the room who had never taken a music lesson in their life. I thought that it was a good book on how to listen to music and what to listen for, bringing it back to the basics of many genres. I do not appreciate the writing style and Copland comes off as ...
  • Jakob Hansen
    This was a required book for a very basic music appreciation course I had to take. It isn't a bad introduction to classical music, though in some parts it is a little dated. The best parts were Copland's descriptions of the compositional process, since, well, he was Aaron Copland. Also, I appreciated his moralizing about putting effort into music listening. Everything else in here you can find on Wikipedia.
  • Stephen
    Wonderful introduction to music. Starts getting into modern and contemporary music, though it's not fully updated. Still, if you want to understand Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, or opera better in a painless and entertaining way, this book is for you.
  • Robert
    I'm learning to listen for melody, theme, drama - in music. It's fun!Remember, Aaron Copeland is one of America's classic composers.
  • Richard Pohl
    Fine one, will use some ot very direct and explicit remarks of Mr. Copland in my educational work for sure...
  • Gage Garlinghouse
    Most people only hear one level of music when just listening to it, but as Aaron Copland explains in his book there are actually three. And he argues that a person should train themselves to listen for all three to better appreciate the music that they hear. In his book the Composer Aaron Copland explains what makes music music, and why you should care. Granted he makes assumptions based on this, being that you know what lots of musical jargon me...
  • William Schram
    What to Listen For In Music is a primer on Music Appreciation written by Aaron Copland. While I do enjoy Coplands arrangements, but I was not aware of his position as a music professor. This book is pretty old. The edition I read came out in 1988, but the first edition had a copyright of 1939. According to the author information, Copland was still alive at the time of publication.Anyway, the book talks about the different aspects of music and how...
  • Mike
    This book is good for what it is: an investigation into the elements and construction of (primarily classical) music for the layman. I am a classically trained pianist, and despite Copland asserting at the beginning that even professional musicians can get value from this book, the value diminishes pretty rapidly. This book is at its best in the beginning when Copland first distinguishes his four basic elements (rhythm, melody, harmony, and tone ...
  • Hannah
    A good, solid guide for the lay person hoping to better understand classical music. Some of the musical vocabulary he expects non-musicians to know is probably beyond what your average person today is familiar with, but it gives a great introduction to the different elements and forms found in classical music, as well as a few interesting chapters on contemporary and film music from a composers perspective. If you havent had much musical training...
  • Rafaela de Marsillac Garcia
    The author says it's a book even for lay people, when, in fact, it would be preferable to have a minimum of sensitivity and musical knowledge. If that IS the case, then it's an AMAZING book that opens the door to a semi-lay music lover for a world of technicalities, of variations, behind the scenes of the final result that we listen to, and makes us have a much more complex understanding of the music we listen to. It is really inspiring to put yo...