Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Musical Excursion--Part Two*

Option Two: Choose a recording of an unfamiliar piece of music, perhaps something utterly beyond your usual musical habits and tastes, or perhaps an obscure tune by your favorite singer, one you haven’t heard in years. As you listen to the music, what do you notice about the piece or about your physical/emotional reaction to it? Are you moved or bored? Do you feel critical or full of praise? What surprises you about the music? What seems predictable? When the piece finishes, what remains in your head—phrase, melody, feeling? Finally, probe each of your responses and see if you can connect a concrete image or physical sensation with each one. For instance, “When the djembe plays, the thud of the hand on the head of the drum resonates like a foot stomping on the floor ” or “Dylan’s voice made my teeth grind.”

During a second listen, notice what you missed the first time. How has your initial response changed or been confirmed? What new questions does the second encounter raise for you? What additional information, about the composer, about the uses of the music, or about its musical/formal qualities would you like to know?

Finally, if possible, find an additional recording of the song. How is this performance different from the one you heard initially? What aspects remain constant? Which do you enjoy more, and why? Which recording would you recommend to someone else?

Write a paragraph or poem that either a) contrasts or layers the experience of hearing the two recordings on top of one another; or b) describes your reactions to the newness or surprise of the piece and/or lays out the questions you’d like to answer for yourself after listening to this new music. Or develop a character sketch of the performer you have heard, or the composer of the piece, investigating the significance of this tune in his life.

*This is part two of an exercise I'm drafting for this course. Option three will appear tomorrow, with other aspects of the excursion to follow. Again, I'm interested in reading responses to this excursion. You'll note that, in this version, the excursion opens itself to the possibility of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. For the Poetry, Poetics, and the Arts Class, only the poetry options will be open.

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