What to Listen to in Music

Aaron Copland November was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and a conductor of his personal and other American songs. He was known by the world as “the Dean of American Composers.” The exposed, gradually shifting melodies in a lot of his works are standard in what many think to be the sound of American music. He is identified for the works he wrote in the 30s and 40s in a purposely accessible style known as “populist”. Works in this manner include the ballets Billy the Kid, Appalachian, and Rodeo. In addition to ballet and orchestral works, he created music in other categories including vocals, opera, and chamber music.

To me, the meaning of music lies in one’s experience with it. With this interpretation in mind, there is no set definition. The meaning changes with new experiences in music. As Copland stated in What to Listen to in Music, the opportunities for listening to music increases as well as the quality of it. However, just because you have access to it, it doesn’t mean you fully grasp what it means to be musical. Copland believes “that all music has an expressive power…but that all music has a certain meaning behind the notes and that the meanings behind the notes constitute, after all, what the piece is saying, what the piece is about”. Copland believes that there is a meaning to music, but the meaning cannot be answered in words. People, all of whom have different experiences and come from different backgrounds, interpret these pieces differently. There is no concrete definition for music for the simple reason that people identify to different things.

I think Beethoven is easier to pin down than Tchaikovsky. In watching the video, I was able to notice a pattern in his symphony. I noticed a lot of high points followed by a lot of lows. The song, however, can be more easily interpreted than Tchaikovsky’s (or can be defined differently). In listening to Beethoven, the mood of the music often changed with how I felt and that was most notable toward the end. Because Swan Lake is played so frequently during the holiday season, it takes the essence and practically embodies a “jolly spirit”. The common experience with Swan Lake is that of joy and happiness while Beethoven’s 9th Symphony 1st movement isn’t really tied down to any time or event.


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