No, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony piece is not harder to pin down. As I was listening to B, I thought there was predictability in the instability in that I could expect grand noises and then softer notes after I heard this sort of pattern after a few times. To be fair, it helped that there were visual cues so that I could see and almost anticipate a lower sound. But also because of that, I recognized that kind of pattern and knew what to expect. I liked Beethoven’s piece because of how grand it made me feel and took me to many swirls of musical pitches. Funny enough, however, my first time listening to it for this assignment, I fell asleep. I guess it relaxed me.
However, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake was more unexpected in my opinion. I was completely surprised at 1:30 exactly, what perfect timing. I mean that came out of nowhere. What was that? The music was relaxing and familiar but then this large hit. It becomes so faced paced all of a sudden. It incites fear in me because the music that succeeds the sudden high pitch is reminiscent of scary movies. As for what it means, I think that this might be a story of escaping or running away because it is fast-paced. I imagine a dancer creeping slowly as to not disturb anyone (because of the calm beginning part) but then has to run really quickly for whatever reason (perhaps stepping on a branch)and we see her speed. I loved both pieces. I will say that I do not know technical music terminology or music theory. Therefore, I am unable to make sophisticated comments on musical aspects to note. I thought and felt this even as we were discussing our movies and music.
Typically, I don’t really listen to classical music unless it’s the only music available to me. Reading Copeland describe the sensous and expressive planes makes me think about my involvement in music, and I listen to a lot of music. I feel myself connecting to music on both of these planes, depending on my mood and the music itself.
Beethoven and Tchaikovsky work in the same genre yet are two completely different musicians, to me. I think that Beethoven isn’t harder to pin down in what it means but it is rather less ambiguous than Tchaikosky. His music does have some unpredictable tunes and melodies that rather flow very excitedly, rather than smoothly. However, his music is as I interpret it to be, it is just pushed in a direction according to the song’s melody.
Tchaikovsky’s music isn’t more predictable but his music does flow more smoothly that Beethoven’s perhaps. The mood generally stays pushing the listener in the same direction through his music, without too many leaps of changing tone, like Beethoven. Both musicians are great, they are just very different in producing music. Through the tone of the played notes, the musicians can change the emotional feeling their music elicits, which is how I think these two artists mainly differ. I personally like Tchaikovsky more than Beethoven because his music is smoother and elicits a different reaction from me than from Beethoven.
When I listened to Beethoven I noticed that it was like the instruments or at least the people playing them, were having a conversation. One would play a rhythm and the other would respond. They all compliment each other. It felt as if there was a conflict that needed to be resolved. This piece would constantly change from speedy and loud to slow, soft and quiet. There was also a lot of anticipation going on because of these changes. At times it would be simple and then get complex very fast, on the screen it looked very messy but I knew it had to have been composed very intricately and was coordinated even if it didn’t appear that way.
Similarly Tchaikovsky changes from speedy and loud to slow, soft and quiet but not as often as Beethoven would. There was anticipation and buildup but the piece as a whole was made very differently from that of Beethoven’s. Tchaikovsky made it like a one sided conversation where as Beethoven had made it like a dramatic and heated conversation. At the very beginning it only felt negative, I was reminded of sadness, regretfulness, guiltiness and many other words that aren’t very positive but it changed after the first 4 or so minutes to hopeful, happy and energetic.
I would say the meaning behind Beethoven’s piece was to convey an argument and a struggle between two entities while Tchaikovsky’s was more of listening to one explain themselves. It makes no sense but like art music has no real definition or meaning because it all depends on the beholder or listener.
I’ve never really listened to classic music often, but when I did I either hated it or loved it. I couldn’t identify why I loved one piece while the other was boring to me, when everyone else thought they sound the same. Different composers evoked different feelings in me, based on how they used sound. Swan Lake vs Symphony 9 are great examples of the way in which each composer utilizes sound in their own unique way. That sound also influences the story or rule of piece. A rule takes the place of a story in music and in swan lake it is easy to see that rule. The music’s rule can be identified very easily. Swan lake has a purpose that most listeners can guess. Even the title of the piece helps the listeners assume what is going on, while Beethoven’s Symphony 9 has a title that does not help in the process of finding a meaning to his music. The title adds more to the unpredictability of his music, because although he has other symphony’s, each is very different than the other and the listener is just thrown in and not told what to expect. When I first heard it, I can imagine a ballet show going on. The plot of the ballet show is always the same, no matter how many times I reheard it or skipped around. However, Beethoven’s Symphony 9 made me think of something new every time. At first I thought it was like a conversation between two people and more and more people joined and it got louder. Then after a four hour nap and coming back to this post, it reminded me of the music that used to play in Tom and Jerry all the time when they were chasing each other. It is a song that depending on what is happening to you at the time or what emotion you are feeling, you can make up a story or meaning that goes along with the music.
Before I get into Tchaikovsky or Beethoven, I would just like to address something Copland said in his reading. It’s just a short rant, don’t worry, it won’t be too long.
Anyways, on pages 12 and 13 of Copland’s reading, he describes people that look for meaning and relation as simply minded. He says those that connect the least with it understand it the most because music is suppose to be ambiguous. Here’s where I get angry: MUSIC IS LOOKED AT DIFFERENTLY AND FELT DIFFERENTLY BY EVERY SINGLE PERSON! So, by Copland’s narrow minded theory, if I look for meaning and relate to it in some way, it is either wrong or just diminishes the meaning of the piece as a whole. Some people need meaning to find new emotional connections, create a new story, and to just get away. There is nothing wrong with that, and these people should be thought of as anything but simply minded. I am one of these people that find even more enjoyment in music when I find these new meanings, and my mind can absolutely run wild with new ideas, as if I am listening to a brand new song that was made especially for me. Why? BECAUSE I HAVE IMAGINATION!!! Imagination is a beautiful thing, so let’s use it to our advantage, because using it for anything but only simplifies what is a beautiful and complex world of music.
Now, back to Beethoven, he does seem all over the place, as shown by all those damn colors. I half expected to get a seizure after seeing that. Colors jumping up and down, left and right, popping out of nowhere, it was insane! It kind of reminded me of when I have a million ideas for a project, and I try to fit them all in instead of going for one idea (it never works). That’s what happens. A bunch of paint splattering onto the canvas trying to get as many colors and movements as possible without even remembering what you were going for in the first place (like me writing this post). Tchaikovsky, on the other hand, reminded me of a love story between a prince and a princess that weren’t supposed to be together (like Romeo and Juliet), and they sneak away at night to Swan Lake, where they drift into happiness. I looked this up and I was really close, as it was a prince and a princess, but the princess is actually a swan that turns into a princess (I like my idea better). This invites (not begs) the question: which is more enjoyable?
I thought, at first, that it was a despondent love song, either relishing in the past experience or a petty announcement of the woman’s appeal. New York City seemed like a backdrop to the message. I never really listened, since NYC didn’t really mean anything to me then. Now I see that the song, in my opinion, is comparing the atmosphere of being with someone special to the all-encompassing depth and uniqueness of each block in NYC. It’s so easy to get lost in such a city as the burning passion of existence burns through the darkest nights, with the brightest blend of red, orange, and golden yellow. The acoustic version brings out the most emotion, I think. Here, through the chords, I feel more connected to the song on a vibratory level, as I play guitar myself. (brb gonna go learn that song real quick) It’s more than just a good song, it makes me want to pick up an instrument. It invokes the sense of creative expression in others by simply being awesome.
Without going into the history of the creation of the 9th Symphony by Beethoven, and without having a context – it is hard to judge what exact intentions are of the author in the delivery of the music. The perspectives of listeners would most likely have a large variation in their interpretation of the first movement. This particular symphony is one that I have heard a few times over the years, first one being all the way back in elementary school. And the image changes always as if it is always a different symphony each time. The symphony induces a surge of emotions and by no means separates me from reality while listening to it. It rather does the opposite – it makes me focus on the things going on around me with more attention.
Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is a contrasting example to the 9th symphony. The name presents an image to be searched out for in the music. It is easy to imagine the views of nature along with this music, and oddly enough, it reminds me of images of old Soviet cartoons from times when my parents would watch them as children.
Tchaikovsky’s symphony is successful in presenting one image and a story for the majority of the time which can be used for operas and such, while Beethoven’s 9th Symphony succeeds in presenting beautiful music for one’s own interpretation.
Music is life. I feel like listening to music is the only time in the day when I meditate. It’s a feeling wherein I become one with it. It also depends on what I am looking for in a music. For example, it could be either the sensuous plane music wherein I just listen to it for getting lost in its melody. I do those a lot of times during the morning, where I would usually hate it when someone would pull me out of my music because, “Relax bro, I’m meditating!” Or it could be the expressive kind where I try to make sense of everything by joining it with meanings and making a story out of it, like I am trying to do right now, so that I could scribble something about it. Either ways music is music, and I would still love it.
I listen to a variety of music, all the way from rap to a kind of classical music. But when I want to get lost in the music I look for something that has no words so that I am not being forced to understand the music using the interpretation of those words. Usually I end up listening to some anime melodies as most of you all know, I love animes! Also, it really depends on my mood. But as of right now I will be pointing towards my interpretation of Shukumei from the anime Fairy Tail.
Shukumei is a sad melody. But apart from that it is quite hard to figure out what kind of sad it is. It is sorrow sadness, hopeful sadness or even struggling sadness. At first when I heard it in the anime, it was played after all the conflicts were solved and despite all the loses they were hopeful about the future. But upon listening it multiple times I felt like there was more pain hidden in the music wherein despite everything is over, you can’t seem to forget about what you lost in the past conflict, could be a relation, could be something precious that is a reminder of someone or even a certain someone you have loved since forever. And now when I listen to it I begin questioning about what is real? It makes me think philosophically and makes me think about life in general. What is life and what is existence. It might not be the same with everybody, and that’s the beauty of it. I love this song, not because it resonates with me and my life in some ways, but because it makes me one with a timeless universe, where there are no individual entities, but only a single unity. However, I just want to point out that I am presently listening to this music while writing this song, so my mind is semi engaged in it, and therefore such thoughts. I don’t even know if I am making sense anymore. I feel like music gives life an abstract meaning where anything and everything is possible, if you want it to be!
Aaron Copland was a famous American composer who was born in NY. He had won multiple awards like the Pulitzer Prize for Music and was often referred to as “the Dean of American Composers” by his peers. In his book “What to Listen for in Music”, he talks about how Beethoven doesn’t give a definite meaning, but rather points towards a general meaning and the rest is left up to the reader’s interpretation, while Tchaikovsky gives you a more specific meaning of what the song is about. Upon listening to both musical pieces I felt the same. When listening to Tchaikovsky, I felt like I could almost picture a particular story in my head and narrate it to someone. It felt like it’s a love story kind of sad theme, wherein they go through a lot of unforeseen struggles, therefore, giving the suspense music. We don’t even need words to figure that out. Furthermore, yes, it is kind of predictable, as now it has a story. One could anticipate what’s going to happen next in the story and how that will be shown in a melody format. But on the other hand, Beethoven’s music was a bit peculiar. I got the feeling where the meaning would almost change at every second of the music. It’s like at one moment it is suspense, at another its peaceful, at another it is energetic, at some point it is a bit sad. You just can’t seem to figure it out. At that point I realized that it doesn’t need to have a meaning. And this is also when I figured out what Aaron meant by when he said that some musicians even go as far as saying that all music just has a purely musical meaning. And in some sense it makes so much sense. Music is a piece of art so gracious that you don’t want to label it with a specific meaning. I feel like that would bring its abstract meaning of unreality to the mere level of nothingness. So, yes music could have a meaning, but it doesn’t have to have one. The meaning could be as one wants to interpret it. And even if you don’t want a meaning, it is fine. One could just enjoy it for a purely musical meaning.
I don’t really listen to a lot of music besides rap and hip hop but one piece of music I have listened to in the past several months is Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes but I mostly hear it performed marching band style so no words. They played this song a lot at my high school’s assemblies and the marching band would always come out and do it. At first, I didn’t have an image in my head or anything when I heard this piece, and I just thought that it sounded really cool but then I heard it in a different context because it was used in the Battlefield 1 trailer so now whenever I hear the song I think about war and see it as a much more dark song. The piece itself however gives me a sense of empowerment and strength. If I had to associate this music with colors I would go with black and white I think mainly because since the song is associated with WW1, it feels like it’s more of a nostalgic and ancient thing, so black and white seems most fitting. Whenever I hear this song I have the urge to pump my fist in the air like I’m at a rock concert because that song is really good and so is Battlefield 1, so I gotta pay homage.