Music Appreciation teaching program ??

Tim ignored_mailbox at
Tue Sep 22 13:44:01 UTC 2009

>> That was the title to a program on our (Australian) ABC, Classic FM
>> station:  

William Case:
> Found the above radio program.  For some reason the volume is coming
> extremely faintly through RhythmBox.  I don't need help yet.  I am not
> done fiddling.

Seems to be playing reasonably, here.

It probably will be quieter than most stations, the ABC doesn't compress
their classical radio (yay!) but they seem to forget about that when
they go from stereo music to close-miked-in-mono hosts, which are a bit
loud (in comparison) though the relaxed vocal style means they don't
yell at you like far too many radio jocks.

> At my age I find I like "oldies but goodies" of the late 50's and early
> 60's.  That probably has more to do with nostalgia for my youth and
> dating years, than a real appreciation of the music.  I can't remember
> the name of a song or an artist until the announcer reminds me.  But,
> after a couple of bars the name of the girl(s) I was dating at the time
> comes instantly to mind.

I've always been more into music from before my time than contemporary,
and I begin to wonder if modern artists are capable of doing something
longer than three minutes.  Quite often, I don't know the titles of
things, since I've only ever heard the songs unannounced, or in the

> As I have grown older, I have noticed that some particularly poignant
> points in my life have been marked by some very strange (for me)
> classical music.

You have a backing orchestra in your life?  ;-)   (Cues the dramatic
thoughtful music.)

> The name of those classical pieces I can quite clearly keep in mind, but
> again I have to hear a couple of bars (a second or two) to actually
> recognize the music.  Quite often, though I can recognize name and
> music, I have a hard time joining the two.

Yes.  As I said before, it's often the case that you've heard the music
somewhere, but never had it identified at the time.  So you know it, but
not what it is.  You can quite often recognise the composer, as it's
familiar in style.

> Yes.  I have a classical radio station on now playing softly in the
> background.  To explain what I am after, as I sit here, only a few
> adjectives or adverbs spring to mind that I use to describe
> noise/sound/music and they are:
> loud, soft, higher, lower, tolerable, Gawd awful and -ish.

I always used to dislike opera, until I heard a few good ones.  I find
the theatrics rather bad, so I prefer hearing them on the radio.  For a
beginner, perhaps Carmen, and one or two of the Gilbert and Sullivan's
are a good start.

>> You couldn't possibly be any worse than what passes for so-called
>> "popular" music, these days...

> Yes I could.  Bill's skill at singing, dancing or whatever has always
> been a great source of mirth for family and friends.  In fact,  the
> inability to hold a tune has had benefits.  I have managed to avoid
> Sunday morning Church Services for most of my life by threatening to
> sing the hymns.

I couldn't sing to save my life.  I don't have the muscle control to get
on the right notes, and I'd never remember more than a few words of any
lyrics.  But back when I was very young, and dinosaurs roamed the earth,
my church found out that I could play the organ, and grabbed me when
their organist was away on day.  I was marched down the aisle like I was
being arrested, grabbed by both arms, so I couldn't get away, and
plonked on the stool, and instructed to find a few songs that I could
play from their book.  It was quite daunting to play with hundreds of
faces staring at me, while I was facing them.  Though nice to have a go
on an old Hammond, and play a room with natural reverb.

These days, the only time I'm in a church is for a wedding.  I'd love to
have a go at playing the two more common wedding marches, with all the
stops out.  But I'm behind a camera, not at a keyboard.  Ironically,
those wedding marches are from operas, with rather tragic outcomes.

> It seems to me that music can be thought as, much like computers, having
> abstraction layers.
> 1) The physics and physiology of noise or sound or music;
> 2) The basic components of listening; rhythm, timbre, pitch and tones;
> 3) The language of composition; chords, scales, harmonics and/or
> whatever;
> 4) The application of all of the above to types (classical, rock'n roll,
> jazz etc.), varieties of music within the types (classical can be a
> string quartet, a concerto, an opera etc.), the parts of the types or
> varieties, overture, libretto, etc.
> I probably have misplaced much of the above -- but you get the idea.
> That misplacement is one of the things I am trying to correct.

Wikipedia is a good thing for some of that, though you will spend quite
a bit of time reading the cross references to understand the jargon.
And there's some things that defy easy explanation without hearing

> I was hoping there was a learning program that would help me travel up
> and down the music abstraction layers.  Something that would produce the
> sound aspect I wanted to learn -- with lots of examples.  And for
> someone like me who actually has trouble hearing the differences, lots
> of drill.

I would suspect that most music training would be aimed at learning to
play, more than understand what one was listening to.  You could try
looking for a local music appreciation society, but I suspect that'd be
treading into enemy territory (the armchair critiques we both despised).

[tim at localhost ~]$ uname -r

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