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- Right Understanding of Music -
written by Wella
Before you can speak, you must first listen. Before you can write, you need to learn how to read.
It is the same with music. To express a certain emotion in your music, you must first be able to capture the emotion in other songs.
Thus, you need to know how to correctly understand music. Unfortunately, many people these days want to run before they can even walk...
As I was feeling frustrated by this truth, I decided to create a guide book to teach people to properly understand music. It wasn't easy to write this book. Sometimes I wondered if I was disregarding personal styles, and other times I wondered if my book would accurately portray a universal truth about music. Perhaps, some of those who read this book will not see my efforts and consider it a waste.
However, a deeper knowledge and understanding of music will give you more freedom in your composition. It will increase your ability to express your message more accurately. It will help you analyze and draw out deep messages in songs composed by others as well.
It is my desire to lead my readers to this simple vision. I hope that many people will show interest in gaining this musical knowledge. If that happens, this book will have been well worth all the sweat and toil.
-Music is life, Wella
Many people think only people with special skills can compose a song. However, music is not about skill, it is an art. Composing music needs to be seen in the realm of art rather than a something technical. What I am about to cover will be music seen through the eyes of art. To experience the enjoyment of composing and the ability to appreciate music, one must first understand the construction of music and the elements within in. As mentioned earlier, it is impossible to analyze each song. I am here to simply suggest one method, don't forget that. Based on these premises, the following are the basic elements needed to understand music.
When listening to music, you must focus.
This seems like such an obvious statement, but young people these days seem to overlook this basic truth. The things you hear on the surface level is not all music. When you focus on the music, and understand the player's emotion and message, that is the full picture of the music. In order to do this, you need focus on the music you hear and let the melody penetrate your heart.
You can't fully capture everything in one take. You need to listen to it again.
Can you listen to someone talk once and repeat the whole thing back word for word? It's the same with music. Each note, each rest, how fast, how slow, each note incorporates into the full message. Therefore, to catch every part without missing a beat, you must repeatedly listen to the music over and again. No matter how good the music is, it is simply a sequence of unfamiliar notes until you familiarize yourself with it. Remember this point, and try listening to a piece of music over and over again until you memorize it.
3. Balanced Appreciation
It's natural to appreciate music that you are familiar with rather than unfamiliar music. Also, it's important to listen to a song repeatedly to understand it. However, there is a danger of falling into a trap by doing so. There's a danger of listening to only a few songs repeatedly and never moving on. This will limit your knowledge and become an obstacle in appreciating music with balance. Listen to songs over and over; however don't be afraid to listen to new songs. This only regresses your ability to appreciate music. However, also remember music should be something you enjoy and something you listen to out of force. Forcing yourself to listen to various music can also become an obstacle in understanding it.
4. Background Knowledge Research
Whichever music you listen to, it is important to know about its background and context. This helps with the coherence of the music as well as understanding the skills within it. In terms of coherence, background information sheds light on the composer's life and story, and what kind of emotion is placed in the song. Meanwhile, the skill aspect analyzes the relationship between the song and the instrument, as well as each note and rhythm. When you possess the background understanding of both aspects you will be able to better understand the message embedded in the song.
Listening to a song and appreciating it is only half of understanding music. Listening to music and actually composing it or performing it is far different. By creating music, your understanding goes from an objective knowledge to an experiential understanding that's personal. Therefore performing a piece of music allows for a deeper understanding of music. However, performing music doesn't have be done for the sole purpose of understanding music. I have actually seen more people who do not understand music concentrate more on performing. If you never have a chance to reflect deeply and find your musical voice, performing will only become work.
6. Using Different Senses
When playing, composing, or listening to music, try using other senses besides your ears. If you can do this, your understanding of music will expand tremendously. When you listen to a certain song, do you see a certain scenery, smell a distinct aroma, or feel a specific emotion? That is what I'm talking about. This doesn't have to happen after you are able to perform a song. Anyone can try this and it's a way to evoke a deeper appreciation for music. Of course music is first and foremost appreciated through your ears; however, neglecting these methods of appreciation is limiting greater possibilities.
If you read this book and can understand it, I am confident that you already understand the concept of music much more than before. The songs you compose from now on will become more sophisticated and personal. When you successfully play your songs, you will experience a greater musical maturity. Furthermore, this knowledge will allow you to play more difficult songs even without a music score.
Understanding music correctly might be impossible. Everyone has their own way of approaching it, and each have their own memories or experiences that make the music personal. That's something no one can criticize or devalue. However, without understanding these basic principles of music, it is an insult to all the great composers and songs.
Music is a precious gift given only to humans by Aton Cimeni. How we use and appreciate this gift is entirely up to us.