I Play Ear.

August 10, 2009 at 2:09 am (By Amba) (, , )

Thinking of jazz (but this would apply to other musical forms just as well), it seems to me that the listener is the fifth member of every quartet, the seventh member of every sextet, the silent duet partner shadowing every soloist. The ear is also a musical instrument. And the quality of the music depends also on how well it is played.


  1. Donna B. said,

    Training the ear is a big part of learning to play a musical instrument. At least it was back in them olden days when I learned…

  2. Callimachus said,

    It’s hard to imagine a human being writing a book simply for his own pleasure, knowing no one ever would read it. But it’s easy to imagine someone alone on an island with just a soprano saxophone and playing it for the sheer joy of it.

  3. amba12 said,

    Like a bird sings.

    I know, I suppose they’re declaring territory, impressing mates, etc. But it’s hard to avoid the impression (especially in the case of mockingbirds) that the thing has detached itself from utility and become a challenge and a pleasure in itself.

  4. theobaldboehm said,

    This is a very, very good point, amba. Music, on some level, should be attractive to nearly everyone who can hear. But it takes a little knowledge, some level of attentive listening and, yes, preparation to penetrate further into music than just a pleasant or confused jumble of sounds. And all musicians know if they have an attentive or appreciative audience. It makes all the difference.

    Olivier Messiaen was one of my musical heroes when I was studying composition. One of his major influences was birdsong. He incorporates birdsong practically everywhere, often stunningly. This is all the more reason to finish a Messiaen post I’ve been working on, which I’ll try to put up soon both here and on my blog.

  5. amba12 said,

    Wow! Thanks, that would be wonderful.

    Sorry not to have said a word about the most recent beauty — I’ve gone directly from deadline to travel prep without enough time for either.

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