Attention to Detail: The Classical Music Listening Guide
Is Silence Music?

Is Silence Music?

November 24, 2020

Music is filled with silence. But is that silence actually part of the music? And more importantly, can silence itself be music? We tackle these (and other) interesting questions on this special episode, using John Cage's avant-garde piece 4'33", a silent piece of music, as our jumping off point.

Listening Tips: Modern and Contemporary Music

Listening Tips: Modern and Contemporary Music

November 14, 2020

We finish our series on era-specific listening tips by exploring the most challenging and diverse sub-genre of classical music, Modern/Contemporary music! Modern music often proves to be especially challenging for new listeners, and can be a big turn-off at classical concerts, but we are here to give you five tips that will help to better understand and appreciate listening to music from this fantastic era!

Tip 1: Listen with an open mind (4:06)

Tip 2: Appreciating the tonality-atonality spectrum (8:00)

Tip 3: Hearing rhythmic figures and gestures (18:48)

Tip 4: Noticing different sound qualities and colors (24:28)

Tip 5: Asking yourself philosophical, abstract questions that are provoked by the music (30:18)

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Instrument Breakdown: Viola and Cello

Instrument Breakdown: Viola and Cello

November 7, 2020

We're back to our instrument breakdown episodes, this time exploring two members of the low string family, the viola and cello! We're joined by Tanner Menees, violist and Ben Manis, cellist and conductor to discuss these two great instruments and how to listen to them.

Bonus: Election Day Listening Game

Bonus: Election Day Listening Game

November 3, 2020

In celebration of Election Day, we're offering up a fun listening game to exercise your listening skills and get your civic engagement juices flowing! In this game, we're challenging you to listen to two different versions of the national anthem and try to hear the differences:

Original: Link Here

Stravinsky's Re-Harmonization: Link Here

Happy listening, go vote, and let us know through social media or our website how many differences you end up noticing!

Listening Tips: Romanticism

Listening Tips: Romanticism

October 29, 2020

We continue our series on listening tips by examining the era and style of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Wagner, and so many other great composers - Romanticism! We're joined by Hannah to discuss our five points of advice for listening to this highly passionate and emotional music, and hear some great music along the way!

Tip 1: Hearing Romantic works through the lens of the composer (8:17)

Tip 2: Distinguishing between absolute and programmatic music (15:33)

Tip 3: Listening for extremes! (26:07)

Tip 4: Noticing fluctuations in tempo (37:31)

Tip 5: Hearing differences in timbre/orchestration (46:05)

Listening Tips: Classical Style

Listening Tips: Classical Style

October 22, 2020

We're back with some more era-specific tips for listening to classical music, and this time we're talking about Classical (?) style! Despite being a poorly named period in music history, the Classical era boasts some of the greatest composers of all time, including Mozart, Haydn, and the young Beethoven. 

Tip 1: Listening for quick character changes (6:07)

Tip 2: Listening operatically (11:25)

Tip 3: Noticing metric irregularities (21:20)

Tip 4: Hearing Sonata form (29:57)

Tip 5: Musical jokes! (36:37)

Listening Tips: Baroque Music

Listening Tips: Baroque Music

October 17, 2020

In a new series, which we'll alternate with our instrument breakdowns, we provide five tips for listening to a certain style of music. Today's episode is on Baroque music, an era that included some of the most famous and well-respected composers, including J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and others! 


1. Distinguishing between sacred and secular music (4:25)

2. Finding emotional nuance in baroque music (9:02)

3. Hearing simple forms and mapping (18:28)

4. Distinguishing between modern and historically-informed performance (23:45)

5. Noticing ornamentation and virtuosity (30:53)

Instrument Breakdown: Violin

Instrument Breakdown: Violin

October 10, 2020

In a new series, we discuss how to listen to some of the most important musical instruments that might appear in a classical concert. Today we start with the violin, the highest string instrument, which boasts some of the most popular concertos and sonatas in the repertoire. We're joined by Kevin Lin, Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony, to chat about this amazing instrument!

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Fundamentals Revisited: Mapping

Fundamentals Revisited: Mapping

October 2, 2020

Today we're joined by Hannah to break down our final fundamental technique, Mapping! We discuss how to listen to longer stretches of music with focus and attention, hearing landmark points, and how visualizing large passages of music can help to understand the structure of a big piece. Remember to rate, review, and subscribe!

Fundamentals Revisited: Hearing Ideas

Fundamentals Revisited: Hearing Ideas

September 26, 2020

Today we review the second fundamental technique of this podcast, Hearing Ideas! We talk about how to recognize musical ideas, how to apply this technique, and some common pitfalls. Apologies for the terrible singing, we are working on limited equipment for the next two weeks!

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