Introduction: Strategies For Listening

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO:Musicians learn to do what they do by actively listening. Active listening means learning to hear specific things, developing the ability to notice and compare. You can listen to music passively, just as you can listen to someone speak without really hearing what they're saying. … [Read more...]

Elaine Martone: A Recording Producer Listens

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: I'm a professional listener. I listen first for whether the music is communicating. If it doesn't move me, even if it's note-perfect, it doesn't work. Are the performers following the composer's instructions in the score? The dynamics are key. It's our job to make sure the … [Read more...]

Two Rhapsodies in Blue

This is a simple comparison - the famous opening clarinet glissando from George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. You'll see from the score below that the music notation is a run up the scale, but the clarinetist makes the decision on the style of how he gets to the top note. At a certain point you don't … [Read more...]

Anne Midgette: The Professional Listener

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Performance is ephemeral and exists in the moment. But when you compare you observe differences. Don't go in to listen with a checklist. You have to be open to the experience. But certainly on the technical side, you have to speak with the proper grammar - it's easy to tell … [Read more...]

Three Shostakoviches (Fifth Symphony)

Here's a more difficult comparison. Three versions of the dark, ominous Fifth Symphony by Shostakovich. The first is the most recent, with Valery Gergiev conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The second is a 1959 recording by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic and the third is a 1991 … [Read more...]

Tom Morris: Learning to Listen

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Be open to hearing more than one concert of the same thing. Listen over a period of time. You want to understand what makes something unique, what makes it stand out. It comes down to comparing. Take small passages and identify the differences between performances. The basic … [Read more...]

David Alan Miller: The Art of Comparing

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Learning to be a critical listener is a hard thing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. It's like developing a taste for food - coffee, for example. I realize there's a huge difference between a good cup and a bad cup. So I experiment and as I do, I find out more and … [Read more...]

Four Ways of Performing Bach

This is an easy (and somewhat startling) comparison. Big symphony orchestras have largely abandoned music of the Baroque as the Early Music movement of the late 20th Century pared down the forces used to perform it in an attempt to more accurately reflect the way the music would have been heard when … [Read more...]

Storm Large: Epiphanies and Developing Taste

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: The desire to develop taste will lead you to seek things out and experiment with what you like. Developing taste is developing the desire for more. You have an epiphany hearing something and you might not know why it moves you but you have to find out more. ABOUT STORM … [Read more...]

Three “Seven Deadly Sins”

Here are three very different excerpts from the prologue to Kurt Weill's "Seven Deadly Sins." (You can hear it performed live in Carnegie Hall at Spring For Music by Storm Large and the Detroit Symphony, Thursday May 9, 2013) Three very different approaches here. Obvious a disagreement over … [Read more...]

Introduction to Class #3: Popularity Versus Quality

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Why does one piece of music become popular and find a place in the repertoire and another doesn't? It's not a matter of quality. Music goes in and out of fashion. Composers go in and out of fashion. At one time, Bach's music was forgotten. Gershwin wrote one of the most popular … [Read more...]

David Alan Miller: There’s No Formula For Popularity

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: If there were a recipe to make something popularity we'd all be making it. But even though artists know some formulas for what ought to be in music, they don't always work to make music popular. Mozart was totally conscious of the marketplace and what could be popular. But even … [Read more...]

Anne Midgette: Popularity Versus Obscurity

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: There's a certain branch of snobbism in classical music that thinks that something particularly obscure is of more value than those pieces that are popular. But taste changes. When you hear unfamiliar music you're not sure what you should think. There's a certain comfort in … [Read more...]

Listen & Do: Popular Versus Not

Compare It's easy to hear why Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is so popular. Aside from the distinctive flourishes - the opening clarinet glissando and the instantly recognizable tunes, its themes have been embedded in our popular culture. from countless quotes to its use as the United Airlines theme. … [Read more...]

Marin Alsop: Music Becomes Popular when It Has A Hook

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: The pieces that are popular one place are not those that popular someplace else. Cultural context means a lot. When a piece of music gets associated with a cultural moment it becomes popular. Barber's Adagio for Strings is one such piece. When pieces are used to sell underwear … [Read more...]

Jennifer Higdon: A Composer’s Take on Popularity

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Figuring out what ends up in the repertoire is difficult. My most popular piece has had about 400 performances. Why? Maybe it's the right length? The right tone? It's a very personal piece for me and maybe people can tell. It's also popular maybe because it's not so difficult … [Read more...]

Storm Large: The Singer Talks Finding Audience

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: Textbook definition is more people than not embrace it. Popular and quality are not synonymous. If something is quality and not popular I blame pop culture on what they choose to sell. But consumer can find their own path and dive deeply into what they like. You can dive down … [Read more...]

David Foster: The Artist Manager Talks Popularity

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: You know star quality when you hear it. But you can only tell when you've spent a lot of time around star quality. But it's very very rare. The difference between popularity and quality is longevity. It's difficult to stay popular for long without quality. You look to find … [Read more...]

Mary Lou Falcone: PR’s Role in Popularity

WHAT'S IN THIS VIDEO: PR people can't make something popular. PR people take the energy of an artist and try to make the public aware of it and position what the artists is doing. Some of it is just plain dumb luck. There's an inexplicable thing that an artist has that makes it take off. Take one … [Read more...]

Discuss: Top Ten Lists

The chart to the left is the top-selling classical recordings chart on iTunes as of Sunday night April 14, 2013. ┬áIs this a good measure of current popularity? This may be what people are buying right now, but it doesn't necessarily measure what people are really listening to. Nor does it measure … [Read more...]