Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Deciphering musical codes

Recent blogs have looked at the processes which are involved our decision making when composing and listening to music. Some may consider that the blogs have somehow reduced the subtle qualities that we share, this diagram outlines some of these qualities which we bring into play when listening.

I use the term "code" as music is information that requires processing, the fact that this can be done at such a remarkable speed by an experienced listener is testament to our extraordinary brain. There are musicians who can within the time it takes to play two notes recognise a composer, bring to mind a catalogue of his or her music, state the period of life in which the music was written (early period, late period), its historical context, other arrangements of the music and so on. Furthermore, even if the music is not known to the listener, he or she will be able to anticipate certain progressions and composing decisions and experience 'pleasure' or surprise when these progressions are not given (novelty).

If you feel that you cannot see yourself as an experienced listener at this time the table may well be useful as a simple way of putting a focus on a given element of the music you wish to listen to, some works will naturally feature a category above others.