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IB Music: Listening Journals

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I am not sure if this is a common thing in IB Music, but we have to do listening journals, where we basically analyze a song that we listen to. We are supposed to choose diverse types of music and different songs. My problem is, I constantly gravitate back toward hugely popular piano pieces, and so I don't get any variation in genre or medium or time period.

Does anyone have any ideas for pieces I may use for these listening journals? I am just not very familiar with how to go about finding random music to listen to.

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Hey dude, I'm sitting my final paper this November but I think you guys have a new syllabus by your exams. That being said, the listening paper should be the same, and in these listening papers, there's rarely any pop songs. It's a bit of a bubble-burster, but you need to start verging away from that.

Do you have a textbook? I have music: An Appreciation which outlines some key pieces from all of the periods of Western Art music, as well as some world music and modern stuff too.

Key things to listen to? I'll just give you a start of the stuff I reckon's vital for you to know:

Classical/Western Art Music:


-Baroque Period

-Classical Period

-20th Century Music (i.e. search for minimalism, serialism on youtube and give the topic a look on wikipedia)

Wikipedia is a good starting point. Research who defined what era and start listening to their works. Some key ones would be all of the famous guys: Mozart, Bach, Beethoven... those sorta guys...

Then... there's World music. There's a few World Music textbooks out there which are a good guide... but what I reckon you want to start doing is documenting musical characteristics of each geographical region. Things that I think are relatively common are Indian Classical Music and Middle Eastern music.

Got alternative radio stations? And I mean, stations that play classical or foreign language music. Record some of that music and start writing about what you hear. If you're confused, ring them up or do a Wikipedia about the music of different continents/countries.

By the end of the course you should be able to hear ANY piece of music and identify its rough: time of composing, geographical location and characteristic musical features.

Hope that helped. Good luck!

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At my school we're having to do a similar thing, though its mainly for composition - essentially we listen to as much music as we can and identify features that are interesting for their compositional value. Though it does help for the Listening Paper as well.

I know its really easy to just analyse pieces that you enjoy listening to and that should definitely be your starting point. But...does your textbook have a CD accompanying it? If so pull that out, it will have pieces of music pertaining to each chapter/era discussed in the book which will be extremely helpful. Another thing is CD store bargain bins - you can usually get an enormous amount of music you wouldn't normally buy in there for very low prices. This is especially helpful for World music stuff.

However - adding to what lastminuteman said - in the listening exam, while it is extremely helpful to be able to identify exactly what time period and/or geographic location the piece is from, its also equally valid to take a guess and give evidence as to why you think this is a piece from that period. For example you might say something like "This piece is from the Baroque period because it uses a sustained pedal point and there is an exhaustive use of perfect cadences etc...." Even if the piece isn't a Baroque piece, the examiner will give you marks for identifying Baroque features in the work and giving a valid explanation as to why it could be Baroque. Its even better if you can guess the composer, even if it's a different composer - "The piece could be by What's-his-face because it sounds a lot like his third symphony and uses elements of his style of play..." blah blah. This works for World music as well - you could suggest that a string instrument you heard in the piece sounds a lot like another string instrument you heard in a piece of traditional Chinese music...and so on. Don't expect yourself to be able to know exactly what's going on in a piece 100% of the time!

Hope this helped! :)

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Guest Lisa

The radio - switch it on and then analyse the piece of music that is currently playing. For even more diverse styles, change the radio station!

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