Who better than world-famous American composer Aaron Copland to write a book analyzing how to intelligently listen to music? Copland, the illustrious composer of such wonderful compositions as "Rodeo," and "Billy the Kid," presents the reader with two questions:
"Are you hearing everything that is going on? Are you really sensitive to it?"
The book provides insights into listening to everyone from Mozart to Duke Ellington. This is the only book of this kind actually written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. First published in 1939,
What to Listen for in Music devotes chapters to contemporary and film music and recommended recordings for each genre. What makes the book so simultaneously engaging and challenging is the fact that the author doesn't expect the reader to learn what he
or she needs to know simply from reading his book.
"All books on understanding music are agreed about one point: You can't develop a better appreciation of the art merely by reading a book about it. If you want to understand music better, you can do nothing more important than listen to it."
Thus speaks Mr. Copland in the opening chapter entitled "Preliminaries." Subsequent chapters titled "How We Listen," "The Creative Process in Music," and "Harmony" are all pretty self-explanatory. This is not a simple book; the text is deep and the author pulls no literary punches. He knows everything there is to know about writing, playing, and listening to music, and he uses everything in him to convey this knowledge.
He ends his book by writing,
"Music can only be really alive when there are listeners who are really alive. To listen intently, to listen consciously, to listen with one's whole intelligence is the least we can do in the furtherance of an art that is one of the glories of mankind."
Aaron Copland holds music above all else. After reading his book, hopefully you will also share in his unbridled enthusiasm for the sounds of music.