Listen to Classical Music

Classical music has been an integral part of our lives, directly or indirectly. We have been exposed to many classical music pieces used in commercials, as background music in movies, in cartoons and even in video games. Take an example, a classical piece called ‘O Fortuna’, has been used in various media forms. Also, music pieces by Beethoven and Mozart have been used in cartoons, for example, ‘Tom and Jerry’ and in sitcoms, for example, ‘South Park’ and ‘The Simpsons’. Ever since we entered school, Beethoven’s and Mozart’s music was recommended for listening to improve our memory and concentration power, and sometimes serving as a lullaby. I am sure that we all have heard some piece or notes of classical music, even if we didn’t know we were listening to it or even if we didn’t know who the artist was.

If your dilemma is, that you like listening to heavy metal, psychedelic rock, or pop music and you don’t really like listening to classical music, how will you ever develop a liking for it. Then, I am here to tell you how. You tried listening to classical music, but couldn’t hold on to it for long because it didn’t seem fun or intriguing enough, right? This feeling is normal. I went through the same before, and have now discovered my love and interest for it. I am going to explain, how you could listen to classical music and enjoy it, just the way I did.

How to Enjoy Listening to Classical Music

Don’t Listen to it While Working Out
Why most of us avoid listening to classical music is because, most of the time we listen to music, while performing some physical activity; such as, dancing, walking, jogging and working out in the gym. Classical music is definitely not the kind of music that will make you tap your feet or make you dance. So, you will have to hear it when you are not undergoing any sort of physical exertion.

Listen to it in the Dark
In contrast to the other popular music genres like pop and hip-hop which gets your adrenaline pumping, classical music is said to have a soporific, and a soothing effect. So, hear it when you are in a relaxed frame of mind and not in a commotion. You can listen to classical music either when you are going to sleep or even in the morning, if you rise early. Why?? That’s because when you are about to sleep or when you get up early, your mind is relatively free and less occupied. That is when classical music will suit your mood and your state of mind.

Listen to the Melody
If you are listening to classical music for the lyrics, then you are not going to listen to it for long. So, what you are supposed to hear in classical music is, its melody. Pay attention to how the music weaves and notes flow. Listen to the variations in rhythm and try identifying the different instruments played in the piece. This will keep you intrigued to the piece you are listening to.

The Music Takes Time to Seep in
It’s not a bad thing, if you don’t have a liking for classical music. But, if you think that you will be able to like it in one go, after reading this article, then that would be a pretty irrational expectation. When you start any sort of new activity, it will take some time for you to get accustomed to it. It’s similar to what happens when you listen to classical music at first. The best way is, when you are alone, working on something or reading a book, let it play in the background. Unconsciously and gradually, classical music will dwell into your mind.

Close your Eyes and Feel
The best way to understand classical music is by closing your eyes and imagining anything that first comes to your mind. You could imagine yourself performing any activity or, if you can’t imagine anything and you are blank, then just focus on the music and try to visualize how this music would have been created. Imagine an orchestra playing it and try to figure out all the musical instruments played in the piece.

Every Piece Has a Meaning
Every piece in classical music is meant for a reason. Each piece, though they may have less or no lyrics in them, has a story to narrate. Emotions like anger, love, pain, and beauty are all expressed in the form of variations in music. You will clearly understand it, after you have heard and understood a few pieces.

“Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.”

The above line is such a fantastic quote by Frank McKinney Hubbard about classical music. It totally describes how a person who is new to classical music will feel at first. It can feel like a minimalist music piece, but it’s more dynamic. Classical music has a broader variety of forms, rhythms and styles. The characteristics of classical music cannot be defined or restricted to a few set of points. Once you have developed an understanding of this music, you will soon be able to enjoy it, whenever you hear it.

While you are doing the above mentioned things, research a little bit about all the classical ‘master composers’ like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Schoenberg, Haydn, Stravinsky, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Handel, Bach, and Debussy. Make a list of their best music pieces and listen to them.

Tips to Play Electric Guitar

Some people want to learn to play the guitar as a hobby, while others may take it to be a serious profession to enter the music industry. When it comes to learning to play this musical instrument, beginner guitar players should take in mind to start out with the acoustic guitar first. If you learn the acoustic guitar at the start of the skill, you will easily be able to grasp a majority of the techniques required to play the electric guitar. Guitar playing on the acoustic and electric is till an extent the same, with some exceptions associated with advanced techniques on the electric one. In the following, we are going to learn how to play the electric guitar step by step.

Chords and Notations
There are two types of chord holding methods on the fretboard viz. open chord and barre chord. Open chords relate to standard chords played typically on the acoustic guitar; mostly on first, second, and third frets. On the other hand, barre chords are those wherein you normally have to place the first finger of your fretting hand on all strings on a specific fret. Therefore, in such chords, there is no string left which does not get pressed on the fingerboard. These kinds of chords can be used anywhere on the fingerboard. Both open and barre chords can be used on acoustic as well as electric guitars. However, open chords are more specific to the acoustic guitar, whereas barre ones to the electric. Considering that you are familiar with reading guitar tabs, below are figures that depict the difference in an open and barre chord, just for your understanding.

Open and Barre Chords – Difference

Open ‘F’ Chord
e(1st) ———-1———-
B(2nd) ———-1———-
G(3rd) ———-2———-
D(4th) ———-3———-
A(5th) ———-3———-
E(6th) ———-X———-

Open ‘G’ Chord
e ————3—————
B ————0—————
G ————0—————
D ————0—————
A ————2—————
E ————3—————

Barre ‘F’ Chord
e(1st) ———-1———-
B(2nd) ———-1———-
G(3rd) ———-2———-
D(4th) ———-3———-
A(5th) ———-3———-
E(6th) ———-1———-

Barre ‘G’ Chord
e ————3—————
B ————3—————
G ————4—————
D ————5—————
A ————5—————
E ————3—————

Rhythms and Strumming Patterns
Though there is a similarity between strumming patterns of an acoustic and an electric guitar, there are some notable variations. Barre chords are generally played on the electric guitar for creating a punchy sound. Therefore, the rhythms should also be played accordingly. In order to get a punchy kind of strumming, you mostly need to strum the bass strings, with occasional strums on the lead ones. In addition, holding barre chords is also used to give breaks to the rhythm, which completely brings a drastic change in the primary strumming pattern. There is another good technique known as ‘muting’, wherein the player has to strum the strings with placing the edge of his palm on the strings just near where they are strummed. Muting can be done on the acoustic guitar, but is more effective on the electric guitar.

These are few of the basic techniques and tips on how to play electric guitar for beginners. Today, since music has become experimental, there are not many techniques that are totally generic. Musicians and guitarists experimenting with their instruments is the main reason why we can learn so many different techniques in the skill.

Effects of Music on the Mind

The study of how music affects the mind has been a subject of interest for many. The interconnection between music and the physical and mental health of human beings has been researched on since long. Research has concluded that music does have positive effects on our mind. It has the power of healing certain ailments. Indian classical music has been found to have the strongest healing powers. Music has a calming effect on the mind. It is known to speed the recovery of health ailments. It helps fight anxiety and has a soothing effect on the brain.

Effects of Music on the Mental State
Fights Depression
Feeling depressed, gloomy or inadequate? Soothing music can help you. Depression reduces brain activity and hampers the mind’s ability to plan and carry out tasks. Lack of the neurotransmitter Serotonin, results in a depressed state of mind. Soothing musical notes help increase the Serotonin levels of the brain, thus alleviating mental depression. Natural musical notes are known to make the mind alert.

Relieves Anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or uncertainty that clouds your mind and the feeling is mostly about an upcoming event having an unknown outcome. The result is what you are afraid of or worried about. Increased anxiety levels and stress lead to sleeplessness. Prolonged periods of anxiety may even lead to anxiety disorders. But music can come to rescue. It calms the body nerves and soothes the mind. Flat musical notes induce sleep.

Improves Learning Abilities
Music affects the process of learning and thinking. Listening to quiet and soothing music while working helps you work faster and in a more efficient way. Music has the ability to make you positive and feel motivated. Research has shown that music brings about remarkable improvements in the academic skills of students, who are made to listen to certain kinds of music while studying or working in the lab. Listening to pleasant music, while doing a difficult task, can make it seem easier.

Boosts Confidence
Music has a positive effect on the interpersonal skills of an individual. Lack of confidence and very less or no desire to learn is most often the reason behind a failure. It’s not always inability. Students obtaining poor school grades do not necessarily lack intelligence. It’s their disinterest in the subjects or the lack of motivation that leads to poor academic performance. Music lessons during school can help the students fight their mental block. Music proves helpful in encouraging young children to venture new fields. It increases their capacity to believe in themselves, that is, in boosting confidence.

Effects of Music on the Brain

Increases Concentration Levels, Improves Memory
It is known that music helps increase your concentration levels. It helps improve memory. It has been found to increase memory levels of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Research has shown that the silence between two musical notes triggers brain cells which are responsible for the development of sharp memory. Flute music, and instruments like santoor and sarod are recommended for the enhancement of concentration and memory. Classical music improves the ability to recall what’s retained in the brain in the form of memory. Strong beats cause the brain waves to resonate in synch with the beat, thus leading to increased levels of concentration and increased mental alertness. This also trains the brain to change speeds of processing easily, as need be. Learning music helps increase self-discipline.

Increases Creativity and Problem-solving Skills
Music plays a vital role in enhancing creativity. Music has a positive impact on the right side of the brain. Music triggers brain centers which deal with the enhancement of creativity. Certain ragas are known to activate the chakras of our body, thus giving us an added advantage in other creative tasks. Music increases spatial and abstract reasoning skills. These are the skills required in tackling problems, solving puzzles and taking decisions. Listening to Mozart’s music is known to have a positive effect on the spatial-temporal reasoning, simply put, it makes you smarter.

Makes Learning Easier
Have you tried learning anything by combining it with music or rhythm? For example, counting with a certain repeating pattern, or learning the alphabet by giving it a tune. Or remember learning poetry by reciting it musically? Didn’t that help you learn things faster? Basically you can remember songs because they are musical compositions and not plain words lacking music or rhythm. This is what music does. It makes learning easier. Learning beat patterns (talas), helps improve math skills. The study of rhythm is known to help students learn math. Music stimulates the brain centers that deal with thinking, analyzing and planning, thus enhancing one’s organizational skills.

Speeds Healing
Music helps in the secretion of endorphins that help in speeding the process of healing. It acts as an effective distraction from pain and suffering. It not only diverts the mind from pain, but also helps bring about certain chemical changes in the brain that help speed the healing process. Music therapy is recommended for patients of high blood pressure, heart diseases and even cancer. Music is therapeutic in pain management. Listening to melodious, comforting music is sure to have a positive effect on the physical and mental well-being of patients. If not cure every ailment, music definitely creates hope in the minds of patients – a hope to recover. And when nothing else works, only hope does.

How does Music Affect your Mood?
Some look at music as a hobby; for some music is their passion, while some pursue music as their career. Music has a direct influence on your mood. Book stores, restaurants and shopping malls often keep some music playing in the background. The kind of music they choose to play depends on the kind of audiences they target. Music is found to enhance customer experience. Music in malls and restaurants peps up customers’ mood. People tend to spend more time in the mall or hotel that plays pleasant music. Music brightens up the atmosphere around you and cheers you up. Music can make you cry, music can make you smile; it has a direct impact on your mood. How music affects your mood also depends on what you associate that piece of music with. A tune or a particular song that is in some way related to your childhood can bring back memories. A song you associate something or someone in your life with, can remind you of that person or thing.

Classical Music

It’s the beautiful arrangement and harmony in the components of classic music that spellbound its listeners so much. The period between 1750 – 1830 is known as the Classical period, during which musicians and singers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven created a history in classical music. The popularity of classical music had a far flung effect and even common people developed an inclination for it. Singers and composers experimented with different styles and practiced use of different types of instruments for creating new genres.

Singing classical songs is truly difficult if you are not well versed with its elements, forms and characteristics. The approach and concept of people about classical music although differ a lot, yet there are some traits that are common in all. Classical music elements actually refer to the parts, sections and the components of the music that make it complete. Such elements form an integral part of different types of musical instruments, like violin, saxophone, piano, guitar, percussion, flute, etc. The essence of classical music lies in harmonizing the notes and chords to generate a tune where we can submerge ourselves completely. It’s because these elements are blended so well, classical music is capable of rejuvenating our mind and enlivening our spirits (this effect has been proved scientifically).

Elements of Classical Music
Melody

The lyrics are tuned in a particular fashion, through which we sing the song. A song is composed by arranging the notes in harmony. The tune formed as a result of combining the pitch and the rhythm is known as the melody. The melody of the song is responsible for making it pleasing to our senses.

Phrase

Basically there are two types of phrases, viz, complete and incomplete. The recurrent musical series are compiled into different phrases that completes the song. The first phrase is followed by the second (cadence), which finally closes the song.

Theme

Classical music is always based on a particular theme, that get exposed from the lyrics and the melody. A song without a theme is never complete. There might be variation in the themes, nevertheless, it forms the backbone of the song. The theme of the song is generated either spontaneously or by keeping the background into consideration.
Motif Motif is the shortest subsection of the melody or the theme. It’s a smallest idea or the smallest element of the song comprising three to four notes. Motifs are two types, viz, rhythmic motif and melodic motif. Listen to Beethoven’s 5th symphony du du du DUUUU to understand what exactly motif is.

Sonata

Sonata is composed of three main sections ‘an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation’. The ‘sonata-allegro’ became famous during the classical period, that lead to development of many forms of themes of classical music. Many modern classical singers consider sonata to be the ‘model for musical analysis’.

Measure

The time span (time signature) of the music within which the lyrics are composed harmoniously is known as the measure. It’s also known as the bar of the music notation. In short, it is the ‘beat per duration’. The entire duration of the music further depends on its lyrics and tune.

Timbre

It’s the quality of individual notes that helps in distinguishing one from another. The sound produced from the musical instrument depends upon the quality of the timbre used. Timbre is also connoted as tone color and tone quality, and due to this the notes produced have a differential effect.

Meter

The total number of syllables, lines, accents and rhythm in the music forms the meter. The technical terms used for defining a meter are measured rhythm, rhythmic shape and time. Meter results from arrangement of these elements. The melody of the song gets affected if the meter is not well measured.

Harmony

What makes a classical song so harmonious? It’s the harmony. The chords, pitches, tones and notes when blended perfectly creates the best type of music. Harmony adds texture and quality to classical music. It’s done by tuning the chord and adding the desired tension to it, so that the sound produced is soothing and melodious.

Coda

You can define coda as an extension of a cadence that paves the way for completing the music. It’s the concluding part of the music and is usually placed towards the end of the composition. Example, C Major Sonata in Mozart’s classical pieces.

Rhythm

The uniform motion that a music follows to progress is known as the rhythm of the music. The notes recur, new notes are generated and the music keeps flowing in a particular fashion, which is known as the rhythm. The rhythm of the music is also created by the beats.

These play a significant role in forming the structure and the tune of the song. If you are really fond of classical music, then I’m sure you will try to figure out these elements while listening to a classical song. Play the music and get completely absorbed in its melody.