Aaron Copland How We Listen Summary

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“How We Listen” begins by providing us with a detailed description of Aaron Copland’s background and accomplishments, then moves on to briefly describe his views and ideas that are expressed in the rest of the passage.

In the introduction, we are presented with Copland’s theory that divides the activity of listening to music (specifically the classical genre) into three categories; sensuous plane, the expressive plane, and the sheerly musical plane.

The sensuous plane allows the listener to simply relax, take in, and appreciate the beauty of the music. In the passage, Copland explains that music lovers tend to abuse this plane because they will use music as an escape from the stress of everyday life, eventually straying away from the realities of the world and becoming lost in the music. As I was reading the passage, I noticed that I often listen to music using this method. However, at first I struggled to see the problem that this poses. After reading, re-reading, and analysing the sensuous plane, I concluded that Copland sees it as “abusive” to become lost in the music, because eventually we aren’t even listening to the lyrics or appreciating the music. Copland is saying that we must find a happy medium in which we can still use music as an escape, while
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From my experience, this form of listening is especially prominent if music is a major part in the person’s life. For example, I am in choir, and I have noticed that because singing is a big part of my everyday routine, I can easily notice the details in music, and sometimes even mistakes. Like Copland mentions in “How We Listen”, intelligent and educated listeners are constantly aware of harmonies, rhythms, melodies, tone colors, key changes, and notes, just to name a few musical devices. This type of listening simply depends on a person’s musical education and
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