How to understand music - PDF book by W. S. B. Mathews

How to understand music

How to understand music
How to understand music


v. 1. A concise course of musical culture by object lessons and essays

As a textbook, the present work covers new ground, its prime object is to lead the student to a consciousness of music as Music and not merely as playing, singing, or theory. It begins at the foundation of the matter; namely, with the observation of musical phraseology- the art of hearing and following coherent musical discourse. 

This occupies the first two parts and covers a wide range of topics, as will be seen by reference to the table of contents, or the chapters themselves. From that point, the studies take a different turn and lead to the perception of the inner something which gives music its life. That inner life of music is and almost the entire remainder of the work is taken up with the study of music in relation to these contents.

These studies, like those in the externals of music, begin simply, at the very line where form and content touch. In their progress, they take into review the principal works of the classical and modern schools, as will be seen by reference to Parts III, V, VI, VII, and VIII. The object of all this study is two-fold; first, to develop in the pupil a consciousness of the inherent relation between music and feeling; and, second, to do this by means of master-works, which, of course, form the only complete and authoritative illustrations of this relation. In this way the musical perceptions are sharpened, the student is introduced to the best parts of musical literature, and thereby his taste and musical feeling are cultivated.

 It is easy to see, therefore, that this book occupies a ground not previously covered by a textbook. In form, the chapters are object-lessons. Such and such" works, or parts of works, are supposed to be played or sung to the pupils, who observe in them such and such peculiarities. 


This form was selected because it is the true way of communicating this instruction, which can not be taken into the mind through reason but must be called up within the mind through a comparison of sense-impressions with each other, and these, again, with the feelings which they awaken. Music is one thing, and ideas about music are another.
the book details :
  • Author: W. S. B. Mathews
  • Publication date:1888
  • Company: Philadelphia: Theodore Presser

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