Author Topic: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?  (Read 13800 times)

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Online SonicMan46

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Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« on: April 09, 2007, 06:07:47 PM »
A thread devoted to suggestions on 'music appreciation' would seem appropriate - posts could include those on audiovisual offerings, books, websites, or other options.  Over the last several years, my wife & I have been enjoying a number of DVD sets from the Teaching Company on music (although we've bought a number related to other topics, e.g. the Civil War for me) - we've had a number of posts in different threads from the old forum - one here concerning this company w/ many positive repsonses; unfortunately, their prices are not cheap - and always wait until their offerings are 'on sale' - options include DVD or CD sets, or direct downloads (each decreasingly less expensive).

The musical courses are given by Robert Greenberg - short biography here - he is quite enjoyable, and his courses vary from composer bios to 'in depth' music appreciation.  The packages that we've purchased so far are:

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music 3rd Edition
Understanding the Fundamentals of Music - coming in the mail soon!
Great Masters: Mozart—His Life and Music - actually, they had a 'sale' and offered Haydn/Mozart/Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky as a 4-pack at a great price; we've finished Haydn & Mozart (more bio than music, but superb DVDs).

Remember that if you're interested in purchasing programs from this company, completely ignore their standard prices, these programs go 'on sale' all of the time - get on their mailing list - these are really good -  :)

But, any other recommendations & comments would be helpful -  ;D



Online SonicMan46

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 08:26:31 AM »

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music - coming in the mail soon!

Remember that if you're interested in purchasing programs from this company, completely ignore their standard prices, these programs go 'on sale' all of the time - get on their mailing list - these are really good -  :)


Well, hate to be the first to post to my thread -  ::)  But, we did receive the Teaching Company offering above (click on the name for a link to the course) - bought on sale; as the name suggest this is pretty 'basic' but so far has been quite enjoyable, and a great review for me; we purchased the DVD set, which provides pics & videos of the instruments discussed, fingering, different ways of bowing, etc.  I believe the course could be understood easily w/ just the audio options, i.e. CDs or downloads (does anyone use cassette tapes anymore?).

But, again, please use this thread to post materials & sources for musical appreciation & understanding - e.g. a compilation of classic music web sites, such as Classical Net would be quite useful.   :)

sunnyside_up

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 03:47:53 AM »
I haven't got much to add, SonicMan, but wanted to share my excitement at having just ordered the Beethoven Symphony and Piano Sonata set that's on sale at the moment!

I have a few other music courses from the Teaching Company and listen to them while I'm exercising - they are just the right length and make my workout much less of a bore!

Offline Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2007, 08:02:21 AM »
When I first started learning classical music, I started by watching opera videos which had Pavarotti in them.  Now I was trying to learn instrumental music.

Problem was - composer could hang the notes on the opera's story (libretto).

What happens in instrumental music?  There is no "story."

One day a friend mentioned the word "sonata form."  I didn't know what that was and turned to an appreciation book for a class that a different friend had given me.  I was so surprised to find that there were three sections.  First was a beginning section called

Exposition - composer wants you to know his music so he presents a melody and many times will repeat it for you.  You are supposed to remember it.  If you don't, the next section will not be as enjoyable.

Development - Remember that original melody or phrase?  Now the composer is going to play around with it.  He will repeat it in many different ways.  You will hear it as a variation if you listen very carefully.  You cannot be doing other things; this is not background music.

Recapitulation - original melody is repeated.  Again, you will enjoy it more if you remember the original melody(ies).  It will be like coming "home" which you are actually doing - you are coming back to the tonic key of the music.

Comments - Hopefully someone on the bb will "adopt" you.  You buy the same exact recording as your adoptive parent has.

Then your "adoptive parent" will write the timings of exactly when you can hear the melody in the exposition as follows:

Track 1  00:00 - 00:30 exposition
            00:31 - 02:40 development
            02:41 - 03:10 recapitulation

He/she will give the timings for all the sections as seen above.  All of track 1 is considered a "movement" in a symphony or concerto.  Symphonies most often have 4 movements whereas concertos have 3 movements.

In the illustration above the form used is sonata form.  The form for other movements can be different.  I think this would be enough material to start to learn and practice.  The great difficulty beginners have is knowing EXACTLY where the various parts of the sonata form begin and end.  That is the reason for the exact timings on the CD tracks.

You must practice and practice this.  Eventually You will be able to determine the start and finish yourself.

There are many, many exceptions to this info, but this is the nucleus.

I hope this helps some beginners and that some knowledgeable people will offer to help.

In summary, I had finally found my "story" for instrumental music; it was the form.

I know many experienced people have things to say about this post and if anyone would like to take over from here, I welcome all comments and would be so happy if they want to carry this further.

The beginner is so uncertain where the divisions of the form are.  That is the reason the timings are so crucial.

I am finished with this and hope someone will carry on.  I do not feel competent to go any further. 



« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 08:14:59 AM by Anne »

Offline stingo

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2007, 03:16:48 AM »
"What to listen for in Music" by Aaron Copland would seem to fit here.

Heather Harrison

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2007, 10:58:21 AM »
"What to listen for in Music" by Aaron Copland would seem to fit here.

I agree - that is a very good book.

I have not tried out any of the music courses from The Teaching Company, but I have tried two of their philosophy series ("The Great Ideas of Philosophy" and "Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition").  They are excellent surveys of philosophy, and the professors are more interesting to listen to than many university professors.  If the music courses are of similar quality, then they should be excellent choices.  Maybe I'll order them some day when they are on sale.

Heather

Offline Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2007, 11:39:18 AM »
Heather,

I just checked and these are on sale now:
 
Fine Arts and Music 
 
 
Chamber Music of Mozart & Operas of Mozart (Set)
 
Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt
 
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition
 
How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition & Concerto (Set)
 
How to Listen to and Understand Opera
 
How to Listen to and Understand Opera & The Life and Operas of Verdi (Set)
 
Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre
 
Operas of Mozart
 
Symphonies of Beethoven
 
Symphonies of Beethoven & Beethoven's Piano Sonatas (Set)
 
The Symphony



I am trying this,  "Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy"

I am also trying this one "Classics of Russian Literature."   Russian opera is some of my favorite music.  Decided it was time to check out Pushkin, Onegin and a few others as they are mentioned quite a bit in opera books.
 


Offline stingo

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2007, 01:00:53 PM »
What are their "sale" prices like though? Just curious...

Online SonicMan46

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2007, 01:17:47 PM »
What are their "sale" prices like though? Just curious...

Stingo - just refer back to my OP and follow the link to the Teaching Company web site - prices are given there - will depend on the format desired; I've been buying the DVD sets (a little more expensive); just look for the ones that are 'on sale' (tremendous price differences); also, if interested, get on their 'mailing list' - you'll receive plenty of catalogs & updates, esp. on sales items.  Give one of the 'less expensive' sets a try to see if you like them - just to clarify, I have absolutely no relationship w/ this company, but wife & I have bought plenty (and my MIL has purchased even more!).   8)

Heather Harrison

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2007, 05:05:30 PM »
A recent catalog of titles on sale shows that the sale prices are about 1/4 of the regular price - this is a very steep discount.  Since all of the courses go on sale at some point during the year, there is no point in ever paying the regular prices unless you want something immediately and you have a lot of money to waste.  As an example, the catalog lists a history course entitled "The Italian Renaissance" which consists of 36 half-hour lectures (18 hours total).  DVD is $375 regular/$100 sale, CD is $270 regular/$70 sale, and cassette is $200 regular/$50 sale.

Check out their website:  http://www.teach12.com/

Heather

Offline Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2007, 05:42:27 PM »
I'd just like to say that those sale prices are not fake or contrived merchandising scams.

At one time there were no sale prices and one had to actually pay the full amount for a course.  I have several of those non-sale courses.  Their price tested one's commitment to learn about classical music.  They were worth it though.

Online SonicMan46

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2007, 06:47:26 PM »
Not sure that I meant this thread to be limited to 'classical' music, but the last couple of nights, we watch several superlative documentaries on 20th century American popupar music, so if that genre may be of interest these DVDs are outstanding (BTW, CLICK on the images for comments):

Richard Rodgers The Sweetest Sounds & Harold Arlen ..Over the Rainbow:)

 

Online SonicMan46

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2007, 07:18:51 AM »
TTT!  ;) 8)  The Teaching Company Great Masters: Tchaikovsky—His Life and Music w/ Robert Greenberg - we are just finishing up this DVD bio - Greenberg is outstanding, as usual - he's having a BLAST w/ PT's 'homosexuality & the women in his life' - there are a lot of musical excerpts, but this biography series concentrates more on the composer's life than compositions - CLICK on the link above for more details - and again these always go on sale (we bought a 4-composer DVD pack) -  :D

Offline jochanaan

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2007, 07:41:10 AM »
...Exposition - composer wants you to know his music so he presents a melody and many times will repeat it for you.  You are supposed to remember it.  If you don't, the next section will not be as enjoyable.

Development - Remember that original melody or phrase?  Now the composer is going to play around with it.  He will repeat it in many different ways.  You will hear it as a variation if you listen very carefully.  You cannot be doing other things; this is not background music.

Recapitulation - original melody is repeated.  Again, you will enjoy it more if you remember the original melody(ies).  It will be like coming "home" which you are actually doing - you are coming back to the tonic key of the music...
A very clear, concentrated explanation, with one glaring omission: The exposition almost always plays two melodies in different keys, not just one.  When there is only one melody, it's repeated in a different key.  The contrast between two themes or keys is an essential element of sonata form, and adds drama to instrumental forms.  In the recapitulation, the two melodies are often, but not always, in the same key, as if "the two become one." ;D
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2007, 04:08:17 PM »
A very clear, concentrated explanation, with one glaring omission: The exposition almost always plays two melodies in different keys, not just one.  When there is only one melody, it's repeated in a different key.  The contrast between two themes or keys is an essential element of sonata form, and adds drama to instrumental forms.  In the recapitulation, the two melodies are often, but not always, in the same key, as if "the two become one." ;D

Hi Jochanaan,

Thanks for your comments.  I am always happy for correction as then I learn.  I knew there could be 2 different melodies in the Exposition but didn't know they are often in different keys.  I also didn't know that if only one melody, that it is usually presented in one key then repeated in a different key.  Did I say this correctly?

I was trying to use just one melody to keep it simple for the beginner (which I am also! ;D).  Later someone more proficient (like you  :)) could explain how it goes with two different melodies in the exposition.

Does Bruckner's fourth symphony use only one melody in the first movement?

Thanks for your information.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2007, 04:10:14 PM by Anne »

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2007, 09:32:57 PM »
...What happens in instrumental music?  There is no "story."
One day a friend mentioned the word "sonata form." ...

Hi Anne,

Theme-based listening (as far as I know) is not how the average person (or even musician) perceives music. Sonata form, at least according to Charles Rosen is observed more in the breach than the rules, since so many sonatas and symphonies transcend them. The same goes for fugues, even those written by Bach. Form in general is based on a law of averages deduced by theoreticians, after the fact.

Intuitive listening first of all feels a kind of pacing. In music terminology this is called harmonic rhythm, or the rate of change of chords according to the meter.  Chords that change frequently have more "movement"; those that linger on have in general a sense of wider spaces. The upper lines (in more harmonic tonal music rather than polyphonic works) compliment the lower by a tendency to depart from the tonic and eventually return "home".

So much of formal analysis has been recognized as not having much to do with the real experience of music. I mean, who is going to count measures for phrases and periods? So much silliness still goes on in music schools that pays lip service to the alleged necessity of recognizing the precise appearance of the recapitulation but in general this is not what one REALLY listens for and EXPERIENCES.

Leonard Bernstein's films are still the benchmark for popular music appreciation (at least for me). He deftly avoided posturing and lecturing while making a few relevant, interesting general points about music that could be referred to over and over again. Also his "Unanswered Question" lectures (although one might disagree about his venturing into areas of linguistics that he may have been less qualified for) get to the essence of listening. To explain music in words is like describing the taste of a banana. He is one of the few who were able to convey the experience of one medium into another with the corresponding verve and enthusiasm.

ZB

ZB
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2007, 12:41:19 PM »
Hi ZB,

Thanks for taking the time to post.  I need more time to study your remarks.  It will have to wait a little while since daughter and 4 grandchildren arrive tonight to spend the week.  I will reply asap.

Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2007, 12:57:18 PM »
Hi Jochanaan,

Thanks for your comments.  I am always happy for correction as then I learn.  I knew there could be 2 different melodies in the Exposition but didn't know they are often in different keys.  I also didn't know that if only one melody, that it is usually presented in one key then repeated in a different key.  Did I say this correctly?


Does Bruckner's fourth symphony use only one melody in the first movement?

Thanks for your information.

Hmmm, I don't know of ANY piece that has only one theme  in the exposition. It wouldn't really be sonata-form then I would think. I don't want to use the term "melody" since a theme doesn't have to be a melody. It can be highly motific as in Beethoven and Bruckner. Melody sort of implies you can sing it yadayada...

Sometimes you don't just get a theme 1 and theme 2, but theme GROUPS 1 and 2 (and then some more) like in Beethoven's 3rd and Ninth, and certainly in Mahler's works.

Convention (at least in the Classical sense) is that theme 2 should be in the relative major if theme 1 is in the minor. If theme 1 is in the major then theme 2 is in the dominant, but Beethoven often ignored that rule and afterwards people more or less obey or not obey it as they please. Connecting the two themes is a modulation bridge (sometimes my favorite part of the exposition).When the theme two cames back in the recapitulation they would (usually) in the same key as theme 1.

Bruckner's 4th Symphony has two themes in the exposition. The second one is that little lilting figure in the violins that goes short-short-LONG, short-short-short-LONG. In Bruckner's case the exposition is almost never repeated.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2007, 12:59:11 PM by PerfectWagnerite »

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2007, 02:58:50 AM »
Free and filled with interesting, educational info:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/discoveringmusic/audioarchive.shtml

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline Anne

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Re: Music Appreciation - Teaching Company & Other Options?
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2007, 06:34:22 PM »
Hmmm, I don't know of ANY piece that has only one theme  in the exposition. It wouldn't really be sonata-form then I would think. I don't want to use the term "melody" since a theme doesn't have to be a melody. It can be highly motific as in Beethoven and Bruckner. Melody sort of implies you can sing it yadayada...

Sometimes you don't just get a theme 1 and theme 2, but theme GROUPS 1 and 2 (and then some more) like in Beethoven's 3rd and Ninth, and certainly in Mahler's works.

Convention (at least in the Classical sense) is that theme 2 should be in the relative major if theme 1 is in the minor. If theme 1 is in the major then theme 2 is in the dominant, but Beethoven often ignored that rule and afterwards people more or less obey or not obey it as they please. Connecting the two themes is a modulation bridge (sometimes my favorite part of the exposition).When the theme two cames back in the recapitulation they would (usually) in the same key as theme 1.

Bruckner's 4th Symphony has two themes in the exposition. The second one is that little lilting figure in the violins that goes short-short-LONG, short-short-short-LONG. In Bruckner's case the exposition is almost never repeated.

Hi Perfect Wagnerite,

I am very interested in what you are saying but I need more time as my grandchildren are here for the week.  I also need to find that little lilting phrase in the Bruckner 4th sym.  first movement.  If it's ok, I will answer a little later as soon as I am able.  Thanks very much for replying.
Anne