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I listen to music every day of my life. The most popular genre for me would be classical, but it can range to Spanish and smooth classic rock as well. Each type of music definitely has a different feel to it. When I listen to classical music, for example, I feel a sense of peace and comfort knowing that it is familiar and rhythmically precise. I always begin to analyze music through an association with a location. I listen to classical music and think of Symphony Hall in Boston, MA.
I listen to Spanish music and think of the beach, and I listen to classic rock and think about camping in the woods with my family. Each genre of music has its own pitch and feeling to it which our brain automatically connects to a positive or negative memory. Classical music has a warm feeling to it when it fills up every last molecule of air in Symphony Hall. No sound goes unheard.
Spanish music is very different. I feel as if I am at a party on a beach in Spain. Even though I have never been there, I plan to travel someday. Spanish makes me come alive. It is adventurous and exciting. I feel more extroverted when I listen to it based on the pitch and how it connects to the beat. The beat is extremely precise and makes me want to dance. Classic rock music, on the other hand, is what I associate with nature. Nature reminds me of transcendentalism.
It is beautiful and is always there for us to enjoy. Every type of music has a unique pitch (tone that we hear and know) as well as a beat that keeps us focused in on it.
I notice how I am very critical when it comes to music. I consider it to be an art form due to a freedom of expression: an arrangement of sounds which are pleasant to the human ear that bring a positive or negative memory to mind. Negative memories such as the death of a loved one or the betrayal of a significant other or friend are all too real; but in my opinion, music has to have only a small amount of “aggressive quality” in terms of profanity. It also has to have a key; for example, I do not consider rap that is talking to be music. A person is simply talking and there is no identifiable tone to his voice like concert Bb or concert C in symphonic band. Concert Bb, or the “do” pitch in “do-re-mi-fa-so” is universally known. Listening to the pitch in an orchestra or chorus will click with your brain immediately through unconscious thought process based on prior experience. I for one have heard many different notes in classical concerts, lyrical music and even from the neighborhood ice cream truck; and I do not even have to think about it. I realize that there needs to be melody in the voice. We all want to be far away from monotone people after a while. It is human nature. We like personality and spice to our lives. Profanity is personality but to an extreme. It devalues music especially when it comes to Nicki Minaj’s song titled “Stupid Hoe.” I am mortified. It makes me want to vomit my brains out, but I am laughing so hard at the same time. She has no control of her emotions. She uses the words “bitches, fuck, female wheezy, and hoe” to express her desired sexual needs. There are different words to use to express an emotion that will make the audience feel connected to the music. Profanity often shows a reflection on an individual more than anyone else, and it makes the “meaningless noise” even more painful to listen to. These words often cover up the adjectives that the artist tries to present to an audience. They become less stressed.
Human beings can naturally know when something in music does not sound right based on what we call “harmonic balance.” In music harmony is known as the use of simultaneous pitches (tones) or chords. A common chord that I always see in music is the concert B flat (Bb) chord. It is composed of concert Bb, D, and F and has the most glorious sound to it. It sounds if someone has finished a huge assignment and are proud of his or her work. There is a positive light to it. If a G note (Concert F) does not represent the same pitch as a B note (Concert A) in a chord, then the entire pitch of the notes played will be off. People would cringe. They would feel like they have the absolute desire to fix it. If the classical music opens our mind to pitch and how to fix it, then I suggest that all people listen to it. My analysis of music includes the pitch of notes. Without near perfect pitch, the music would not have a warm and glorious sound and would sound as if the group playing it has no musical knowledge whatsoever. Analysis continues with the basics. As a clarinet teacher for the past four years and a clarinet player for the past ten years, a strong fundamental knowledge in basics such as note accuracy, rhythm, and dynamic contrast all play a role into how musical someone can be.
As music is heard all throughout the world, there are certain wind ensembles that we listen to that have better tone quality than others. I would often go to MICCA competitions with our high school band (Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association). MICCA is an organization that chooses judges to critique different bands at different levels. Many of these judges are pickier with high school bands because they have higher expectations. Expectations in music can include a blend of instrumentation and a contrast in dynamics (louds and softs). The first thing I would listen to is the balance of the ensemble and would often analyze how much air each musician needed to blow through the instrument in order to make a strong sound. Flutes, for example, need to blow much more air than French horns to get their “message across to the audience.” Each instrument has a different color in any piece of music, such as “Sweeney Todd.” The beginning of this piece is very dark, suspenseful, and intense. The flutes and clarinets make the audience feel uncertain about what is to come based on the high trills. These trills make me cringe. Something is going to happen that we cannot predict. French horns and trombones, on the other hand, make me feel like there is loss and a sense that nothing will ever get better (Music of Mystery 1). I always love to analyze the instruments and the emotions associated with them in music literature. The flutes and clarinets in the “Sweeney Todd” soundtrack make me feel uncomfortable to the point where I get goose bumps all down my arms. The trombones, on the other hand, remind me of a time when I did not win an award at the end of my high school career: the award for excellence in the Spanish language. These instruments reminded me of working so hard to achieve a goal and then being crushed at the last minute. Music is about feeling. Without feeling, there is no rhythm and no understanding of musical messages.
Music can be very depressing, but it can also be comprehensive. I often analyze music in the same way in which I analyze just about everything: psychologically. I look for the emotions in music based on the musical key that is being played. A piece played in the key of concert G flat (Gb), for example, is much more somber than a piece played in the key of concert F. Considering that the key of concert Gb has four flats in it, each of those four pitches are brought down one half step. I often associate making a note flat with my knowledge of psychology: diminishing the natural quality of a note. In life we often learn one main lesson: people are who they are. Sometimes I wish composers would do that with notes. Music sounds so much more positive and cheerful when written in natural or sharp keys. I associate flat with somberness and sharp with an uplifting attitude. Personally, I would rather listen to a musician who plays an instrument out of tune but sharp because they demonstrate proper embouchure. Embouchure is how someone places their mouth on the mouth piece of an instrument. A flute player’s lips would be more tense to blow a thin air stream while clarinet players have to have a more rounded (but not too rounded) mouth in order to really blow air through that instrument. Playing an instrument with flat tone not only demonstrates a lack of correct embouchure, but it shows that the person is non-motivated to change the overall pitch. A clarinet player who is always flat has too round of an embouchure, and they need to learn to take control of the instrument. Control within music is essential. No one can really be exciting if they are excited. One must remain calm and collected mentally, but he or she can be eccentric physically to portray passion and professionalism to any audience.
One song in particular that I listened to is “Jump Into The Fog” by The Wombats. I notice how the tune is written in a natural key (B major), and it does not surprise me one bit. This key contains five sharps and it naturally sounds positive as if someone has found his or her new personality in life. One aspect of music that I always look for is improvisation. It is extremely creative and shows how a person has a free spirit in music. Improvising occurs naturally and is almost like we are not thinking about it when it is taking place. It is similar to the blinking of the eye. It is instinctual. Music is instinctual. (Exploring Confidence 2). I like to think of myself as a free-spirited human being because I listen to classical music. One goes into listening to this type of music expecting instruments, but there is little to no knowledge of the emotions that one will get out of it. Music is predictable with knowledge of universal tones, but the emotions that will come from it are unknown.
As music can be uplifting in nature, it can also be deep and can make us think of our memories tied to a specific location. When I think about Céline Dion’s “A New Day Has Come” piece, I automatically think of the night as a young child when I was listening to it in the living room. The temperature was in the negatives outside, and all I could think about was the snow that was falling to the ground. It was so soft, and I wanted to go outside and make a snow angel. Céline Dion’s voice was so simple and pure that I felt as if I was in heaven. It was majestic. (A New Day Has Come 2). I analyze someone’s voice in a song all of the time. I can tell if someone has been through a personal struggle just on the tone of the voice and based on the pitch. The key of this piece was a definite F sharp major key (concert E), reflecting six sharps in the key signature. I look at every sharp note as a new step forward in life. Céline raises a son while she sings this song, and she wants her son to know that life is worth living. Every step backward means that every step forward from that point forward has to be meaningful. My own analysis of music ties in with the motivation and strong psychological emotions such as fear, anger, negativity, guilt, shame, happiness, optimism, peace, joy, and love. A love for music is not as simple as some may think: relax and let your own emotions come to life. Lyrics send us a personal message of how someone is feeling, but we need to discover our own truth and own message through our own emotions. Once I understood the feelings behind each note in a piece, then I became a musician. A concert F chord will sound like a new beginning while a concert Gb chord will sound as if one is trapped in his or her own mental state of confusion.
I listen to multiple types of music, and I definitely approach my listening analytically. I also tend to describe music in terms of instrumentation and how each instrument can make us feel. A classmate named Navi McShary specifies how I “define the musical terms and give examples through experience” (English Notebook). Ten years of music makes me realize that my experience goes far back. When I was in the fifth grade, I was placed in lessons with the sixth grade clarinet players due to the ability to analyze the music rhythmically. My dynamics always need improvement because I tend to focus on making sure I do not miss a note. The terms staccato (short), marcato (accented), and legato (stretched) were the main concepts about notes from those lessons. Tone quality was also an important aspect of music that I learned. It is easy to detect if a musician is playing an instrument with good tone quality because the sound is pure, rich, dark, and specifically clear. The pitches are recognizable. A musician who plays with poor tone quality means that the sound is full of static, nasality, and it is unclear due to flatness or sharpness. I always point out the people who play with poor tone quality because they sound different than other players of the same instrument in a wind ensemble. The goal of a wind ensemble is to have individual sections sound like one player and a whole ensemble to sound like an organ. An organ portrays an equal balance of instrumentation with a glorious sound.
How I listen to music is reflective of how I psychoanalyze people. For instance, when I observe others, I notice that I dissect personality traits from their inner soul. I look to see if a musician or non-musician is introverted or extroverted (I or E), is intuitive or sensing (N or S), is a thinker or a feeler (T or F), or is judgmental or perceptive (J or P). In my own psychology experience, I consider myself an “INFJ” personality. Introverts are profoundly observant, and it can almost be too much. They analyze every single action of someone else without even thinking about their own actions after a while. I am intuitive. I think of multiple possibilities of how someone may feel. I am a feeler. I look at how others feel before myself. I use judgment. The organization has to be there. When I listen to music, I listen to the voice of a musician. I also listen to “the voice of a clarinet player:” a rare luxurious warmth and a soothing touch to the ear and mind. Clarinets have the ability to sound like someone is playing music across the pond to pacify ducks or other animals. It is a majestic instrument. I can see if musicians make the audience feel bored or enthusiastic. Classical music may make some feel bored, but it makes me feel excited because my level of arousal is not as high as most. I enjoy the natural beauty of instruments as much as the lyrics because I observe differences. I have a strong need to portray my own feelings about music. Music is special and distinct. Let it play out on its own for each individual. Be open to all possibilities of the sounds and rhythms that are present today.
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