Listening Perspectives

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Now that you are familiar with how different listeners approach a piece of music, let’s combine your analytic skills with putting yourself in the shoes of different listeners by listening to a new music selection titled “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.

Peer Gynt is the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play of the same name loosely based on a Norwegian fairy tale. It tells the story of Peer Gynt, a Norwegian peasant anti-hero, who is constantly drunk, getting in and out of trouble, and experiencing real and imaginary adventures, including the one that is portrayed in the piece to which you will be listening.

 “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 (2:51)

There is only one music idea in the piece. Here it is played by the violins (pizzicato). Familiarize yourself with the entire piece by listening to it at least three times from beginning to end.

How do you think this piece would be described by different types of listeners — casual, referential, critical, or perceptive?

How To Enter Your Answers

  1. Click “Add Submission” at the bottom of the page (You may need to scroll down.) The page will reload, and you will see a comment box on the right hand side of the video. This is where you will input your answers.
  2. Click Pause at the end of each theme entry and use the Comment Box (to the right of the video) to describe what you heard from a listening perspective of your choice — casual, referential, critical, or perceptive. Click Post to record your comment at that point in the video. Include at least two short descriptions from each perspective.
  3. During the video, follow the question prompts and also use the Comment Box to type a answers. Note: You will need to click Post after each comment you enter to ensure that each comment is associated with the correct timing within the piece.
  4. When commenting as a referential, critical, or perceptive listener, please address how Grieg achieves unity and variety in the piece through the use of:
  • Dynamics (loud or soft volume, or gradual changes from one to another).
  • Timbre (instruments playing the theme by themselves or in different combinations).
  • Pitch (for instance, an entry of the theme at a different registers, i.e., higher or lower than another).
  • Tempo (at what theme entry does the piece start getting faster-accelerando? Does the piece get slower again?

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