Music Lit Classes Don’t Always Kill My Love of Music

So one of my oldest and favourite blog posts expresses my deep dislike of music lit classes. Today I admit that this has not lasted. See, I’m taking the class Music of the Romantic Era right now, and it is fantastic. It is probably my favourite class right now. I don’t think this is just to do with my teacher, though he is awesome. Even though at times it feels like he knows everything, and he is very funny, my first Music Lit teacher was amazing too. Not to say that having a good teacher doesn’t help, it just doesn’t always make the class.

The time period the class is focusing on(19th century) is definitely appealing to me, as I am partial to the experimentation that really became the norm during that time. I love dissonance, and pieces that aren’t written to any particular form, but are just meant to evoke emotions and sound amazing. I admit that the rules followed in earlier eras of music don’t usually result in pieces that take my breath away.

In addition to the 19th century in particular, I like that we are focusing on a time period at all. My first Music Lit class was more of a Greatest Hits class and did not go into depth very much. We rapidly went from the 13th century to the 20th, with most of the class being memorising the birth and death dates of composers and learning to recognise their best-known works. My second Music Lit class did focus on the Medieval Era, but the teacher was dreadful. I think her best moment was when she asked us to name which medieval instrument was which, on a recording with them all playing at once, before we had heard or even seen pictures of any of them. All we had was a list of names. (Then there was the time when she insisted on continuing to mispronounce “violoncello” after I pointed out she was saying it wrong because changing her pronunciation would “confuse the other students.”) So yes, the focus and the teacher are much improved.

The other major difference I have noticed is my fellow classmates. Whereas before Music Lit was a required class for all music majors, this class is optional, so the people taking it have chosen to, and approach the work differently. Discussions are more interesting, and people don’t goof off during class.

All of this being said, there are some parts of the class that fit into my previous blog entry. For instance, whilst listening to Schumann’s Carnavale, we had an article written about his use of masculinity and femininity in the piece. And maybe it’s just me, but nothing really jumped out at me as overly feminine or masculine. Also, taking this class has made me realise that I don’t like Mendelssohn anywhere near as much as I thought I did, which has made me very sad. I suspect there will be a few more cases like both of these, but for the most part, I am happy with this class. My personal interests play a big part in how I perceive these classes, and I know I only truly feel comfortable discussing music in terms of how I perceive it and relate it to my own life, rather than to try to speak for both the composer and everyone else. I am fortunate in that my teacher is good about supplying letters by the composers and reviews written by their fellow composers of the time, both of which relieve my discomfort a bit.

0 minutes left – the 5 minutes that I worked on this on Monday = -5 minutes left.


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