MUS 1P • Department of Music • Fall 2017

Introduction to Musical Concepts

LIU Post • Long Island University

In class we have identified these three levels of listening:

Passive Listening
This type of listening occurs when you are close enough to the source of the sound to hear it, but you are not consciously hearing it. An example: you are driving in the car with the stereo on, but you are not aware of what is playing.
Emotional or Connotative Listening
Emotional or Connotative listening occurs when music, or any sound, triggers a memory or an emotion in you. Instead of concentrating on what you are hearing, you focus on what you are feeling. An example: a song reminds you of a specific moment of a date in high school.
Intelligent Listening
With Intelligent Listening you are very aware of what you are hearing. Some examples: you try to identify some strange sound you hear at night; or you try to figure out the lyrics of a song.

Of the three levels, the last, Intelligent Listening, is the level needed when studying or analyzing music. In order to achieve the Intelligent Listening level, we make observations about the music by answering a series or checklist of questions related to the characteristics of the music. The act of concentrating on the music, and not the emotions or memories the music makes us feel or remember, places us on the Intelligent Listening level.

Here's the basic Current Checklist to date (as of Oct. 1, 2017)

  1. What is the title of the song? (Record Information)
  2. Who is/are the performer(s)? (Record Information)
  3. What style/genre is the music? (Style)
  4. What did you hear that made you choose the above style (Style/Stylistic Idioms)?
  5. What is the Form Analysis? (e.g. A B A B C A B , Form) New
  6. Is the music fast or slow? (Tempo/Rhythm)
  7. What is the meter of the music? (Rhythm)
  8. Is there an obvious Backbeat (Yes/No)? (Rhythm)
  9. Do you hear any motives (repeating melodic/rhythmic figures, Melody/Rhythm) New
  10. Is the music loud or soft? (Dynamics)
  11. What instruments am I hearing? (Timbre)
  12. What kind of singer(s) do I hear? Male/Female? Solo/Group? (Timbre)
  13. Are there any backup singers? (Yes/No, Timbre)
  14. What are the lyrics about? (Lyrics)
  15. What is/are the outstanding characteristic(s) of the music? (Conclusion)
  16. What is the mood of the music? (Conclusion)
  17. Do I like the music? Why? (Conclusion)

For now we'll continue to keep track of the basic checklist but we'll use the full Intelligent Listenting Checklist for our classwork.

For practice use the online version of the full checklist we'll use for the Second Checklist Assignment. To earn extra credit – listen to a song, fill out the checklist answering as many questions as you can, then click the Send button.