Listen to a conversation between a student and his music history professor.
Ummm, Professor Jenkins... the listening journal you assigned us to keep for the Intro to World Music class... well, I'm not sure I understand what to do.
I listened to the pieces you assigned this week more than once, but when I tried to write about them, I didn't know what to say.
Well, it's not easy to write about music, even for people who are supposedly expert at it!
That makes me feel a little better.
But, I'm just not familiar with how you keep a listening journal... I've kept journals for other classes... summarizing and writing how I felt about readings...
Well, a listening journal isn't all that different. I want you to note your feelings about musical compositions, too...
OK ... [thinking] There were pieces I liked more than others, but I think you want our comments to be a little more, I don't know, analytical... right?
Well...whether you like a piece or not is important. But you should be able to explain why you like a particular piece... and be able to talk about its historical and musical context.
Actually, the listening journal is a tool to help you listen to music actively... to think about what you're hearing...
Maybe I'm finding it difficult because I'm not real familiar with most of the music you assigned...
I mean if it was hip hop or something I listen to with my friends
Sure, because hip hop is a form that's familiar and meaningful to you.
But you'll see, as the semester progresses and you start learning more about musical forms, you'll become a more adept listener and you'll start noticing patterns.
OK, so the songs we listened to this week the... [trying to remember] the canto...
The cante jondo, you remember we said it means deep song in Andalusian Spanish, not only because it's sung in a deep register, but also because it's a song about deeper or serious matters... certainly not lighthearted.
Really? Hmmm... I guess I didn't catch the double meaning... that's kinda cool.
But anyway, even with the translations you gave us for the lyrics and everything... I don't know... I could tell it was sad, but I guess I wasn't trying to analyze it- from a musical perspective, that is.
OK, so this is what you should do.
Go back and listen to the song selection, and this time pay attention to the melody, to repetition, to the...
There was plenty of that... some parts sounded like the same note played over and over again!
That's exactly the kind of observation you would record in a listening journal.
So...melody, repetition, rhythm, how the piece is structured, as well as your reasons for liking or disliking it...
[gets an idea] you know what? I thought everyone was clear about this but... you've just given me a great idea.
I'm going to draw up a list of questions everyone should keep in mind when they're writing their journals... other students may be having the same problem you're having.