On the merits of attentive listening

Posted on: March 22, 2013

Monday (3/18) on NewMusicBox.com, Frank J. Oteri writes, “Since I finished reading Christopher Small’s book Musicking last week, I’ve still been trying to come to terms with the author’s extremely damning conclusions about classical music and how we are expected to listen to it. While much of what Small wrote resonated with me in a very profound way, I believe that his assumption about so-called passive listening being an unhealthy socialization model is completely misguided. … While it took decades for the music of Beethoven to actually speak to me (which is why I think that new music should be the focal point of all concerts and not just an occasional add-on to otherwise standard repertory programming), learning how to listen enabled just about anyone’s music to speak to me (from Memphis Minnie to the Gyuto Monks to Manitas de Plata, to cite representatives from communities that Small feels classical music excludes). I firmly believe that learning how to listen can do the same for almost anyone else. Small argues that music is a more healthy experience when it is integrated alongside other activities as it is in many of the world’s cultures. But I would argue that there is much to be gained by giving the music of these other cultures the same respect we accord classical music by listening to it with the same level of attentiveness.”

Posted March 22, 2013