Giuseppina La Face Bianconi

La didattica dell'ascolto

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One of the primary ways of introducing the general public to an understanding and appreciation of both our contemporary and traditional musical heritage is through teaching them how to listen. The article discusses points regarding the communication of such knowledge; it looks at how to develop the listener's capacity to focus on a piece of music, how to appreciate its structure and grasp its relations to other forms of "knowledge". In effect, it discusses how the listener can discover the meaning and sense of music. Drawing on examples from Berlioz, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Marenzio and Haydn, four specific points are raised. 1. "Segmentation and Selection". As an art form employs time implicity, music is never simultaneously present to the listener; it cannot be grasped all at once. It is a mobile art form, which by its very nature cannot be "pinned down". In teaching students how to listen, one must enable them to grasp the way in wich the entire piece "takes place". They must aim at constructing a mental map of the work, which they can then use in finding their way around within it. To this effect, any musical construct must be broken down into its component parts if it is to be understood. In listening to a piece of music, we follow a discourse made up of sections, phrases, clauses and appositions. Careful selection of significant passages can even make long and complex works suitable for this process of teaching learning. 2. "Cues and Clues". According to Irène Deliège, listening to music involves one in the schematization, simplification and reduction of the sound material. The listener identifies cues and clues on the surface that then become fixed in the memory thanks to their relevance and frequency of occurrence. 3. "Verbalisation". As with any other type of knowledge, the construction and consolidation of musical knowledge occurs primarily though verbal language. One of the tasks in teaching students how to listen at music involves an adequate verbalisation of what is being heard at - even though one is dealing with an original language (music) in which denotation plays a relatively scant role. 4. "The Reading of Music", Whilst is true that one can listen to music perceptively even without being able to read a score, it is also true that for some kinds of music the score can provide a successful way of grasping meaning and significance. Thus schools should strive at enabling students to acquire at an early stage some knowledge of musical notation.

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