Just Listen… Because It Isn’t Noise

Shhhhhh…. do you hear it? Where are you right now? Close your eyes and listen. Do you hear it? Noise? No, it’s the music of place.

What do you hear? Listen carefully. Just listen… Are you listening?

Good, because it’s time to just listen. The music of place…

But that’s not what this is about. That was just to get you to listen, so keep listening.

Note: I do use Spotify so my links are to Spotify. You can get a free account (or a paid one). I love Spotify, I really do. So yeah, Spotify.

 I just finished taking Music and Culture, it’s like music appreciation, but not really. It’s mostly about listening and actively listening to music and learning about the cultural significance of certain pieces and composers/artists. I learned about different periods, some basic theory, etc. But I also learned about myself, which I supposed is the point of these Core classes at my school.

I learned that I love dissonance. Consonance is so boring after a while. Sorry, consonance is when the notes seem to “go together” or are at rest. Dissonance is the opposite. Music sounds “wrong” and the notes sometimes sound wild and definitely not at peace with themselves. But I see, and hear, the beauty that is within dissonance. Take this Schoenberg piece for instance, it was my first foray into dissonance.

Schoenberg: 6 Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19: No. 1 Leicht, zart

Assuming you actually listened to it, does it sound wrong to you? Is it jarring and confusing? Is your mind trying to make it sound “right?”

When I first heard it, every fiber of my being told me it was wrong. Which was strange, I’ve never had that reaction to anything before. It was strange and didn’t makes sense to me. So I listened again, and really listened to it. Then I heard the beauty of it. How a few “misplaced” notes could create the beauty of dissonant sound. I wanted more. So I found more.

I found an entire playlist curated by Spotify that was JUST Schoenberg, and what a treasure it was.

Composer Weekly: Arnold Schoenberg

What I learned in class was that Schoenberg’s whole shtick was the “emancipation of dissonance.” He was an expressionist. Expressionism was a modernist movement that started in poetry and painting. The goal of the expressionists was to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality. At the time, it was kind of Avant Garde, but it was a movement and it had a name. Schoenberg was a prominent expressionist, as was his protegee, Anton Webern. They say he took the dissonance a step further. I haven’t listened to much of him, but here’s a track.

Webern: 5 Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 10

Anyway, the main point is that you should listen to music and everything around you before deciding what is noise and what is music. To me, music is everywhere and everything, you just have to listen. Please comment. I really want to hear your thoughts on this. Do you hear the music? Do you prefer consonance or dissonance? What music do you like?

Don’t be afraid to comment, music isn’t a scary world. Until next time, Sanders out.

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