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What Is Music to Our Ears?

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`YOU'RE too critical,'' my friend said after I made some comments about a concert we had just heard together. ``That's the way you musicians are. You can't really enjoy music. I'm glad I don't know much about it - it would spoil it all for me!'' I am not a professional musician, and so do not merit being referred to as my friend did when she included me in ``you musicians.'' But I do have a musical background and feel that it has enriched my life immeasurably.

This brings me to the question, Does the inexperienced but appreciative layman or the musically educated individual get more enjoyment out of listening to music?

It has been argued that as a person's technical knowledge of music is increased, he becomes more critical, and his capacity for pure enjoyment of music becomes proportionately limited, whereas the uninitiated person is totally unaware of many of the elements which draw the attention of the serious student of music, and he is therefore unhampered in his innocent and unquestioning enjoyment of the music. He surrenders to it, untroubled by technicalities or disillusioning information, and not highly enough trained to perceive slight defects in the performance. Knowing little of the laws of music (its form and structure) and less about its physical nature, he is inclined to envelop it in a misty, mysterious halo as something quite incomprehensible and ``other-worldly.'' He brings a more romantic attitude to his listening, and consequently has a more highly emotional response. Therefore it is argued that his enjoyment is greater than that of the more sophisticated, musically trained listener.


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