2. ... It takes a lot of practice to enjoy things the way you did before once you start recognizing the mechanics underneath. At least that is how it's been with movies and books (and increasingly games too) and I use music as my escapism instead.
I'm going to just split this into two posts (sorry for double post!)
You're correct in believing that it'll take practice to go back to how you used to listen to music. However, I don't believe that's a bad thing...as with studying the various subjects of music, it prepares you in being able to describe not only what's
happening in a piece/song, but also why
you like/love/adore that piece of music. Speaking out of experience, as you can gather from my response above with "Silly-Go-Round," i can turn that critical listening off at the snap of a finger. I will not listen to a piece of music critically the first time unless for a music exam, which then I am required to turn my thinking cap on--but even then, the professor will play it one or two more times afterwards to let it sink in.
Of course, I feel I would cheat you of a fuller answer if I stopped there, so below is a skeletal breakdown in how I see each music subject in regards to its application in critical listening:Music Theory
the theory taught in class is not something to bore the heck out of our minds (though some of it can be tedious) but for something greater that some students probably won't understand until later in their career.
What I'm talking about specifically is learning the ideas
(like modes, progressions, etc.) and terminology
(names for those ideas) in describing what is happening in a piece of music, and seeing that terminology/ideas in the scores. Once a student understands as much as they can in describing what's happening in a piece, then what they can do is put that knowledge to use and describe why they like in certain pieces of music that they themselves love, but would probably not find in a music theory class right away (game music, anime music).
But wait a sec, how are they able to tell if a piece of music is using a French/Italian/German 6th chord (more chords, ack!) that they learned in theory in a piece if they don't have the music score in front of them? Well, that's where sight singing and EAR TRAINING
(while this is what the class is called usually, the emphasis is my own) comes in. Sight Singing and Ear Training
This class isn't there to make you wet your pants when you have to sing the melody to the beginning of the Infernal Dance from Stravinsky's Firebird
(horns in the beginning)...at times some of the singing did give me grey hairs (i have them to prove it ;))
Generally, students are trained in singing pieces of classical (not to be confused with the Classical Era) literature and/or practice pieces, but they are required--by the end of each semester--to distinguish the nuances of the chords presented to them aurally, identifying them (and spell them in the correct inversion) that they learned up 'till that point. In other words, you're taking what you learned in theory and putting it into practice.
Anecdote Half time!: To help me with singing/hearing french6th chords (one chord is Ab, C, D, F#) I would remember the first three notes in that chord are the same for Saria's theme
(but a different key). This is actually an example of putting what I learned to practice--and to help me--with video game music as the learning tool.
For some--like vocalists--the class may be easier for them, seeing they are engaging their own instrument in class--their body (you better believe this is more than a vocal cord singing...). For myself, this wasn't the case (pianist here), but darn did I do my best (actually passed with a B- in the end). Anyways, once you learn what you've learned in theory sounds like isolated alone (chords alone) and in context (within the music), there comes the next step of understanding what instruments are playing those chords when hearing them in their Orchestral form.Orchestration
Favorite class, hands down, is Orchestration! You learn a great deal of information (ranges, timbre
, transpositions, etc.) the families of each instrument used in an Orchestra. If youâ€™re fortunate enough and the class runs a full year, then you might be introduced to instruments generally not used in a classical orchestra (like the Tabla, Gamelan, Sitar, Didgeridoo, and so on).
Personally, I find Orchestration being one of the most important classes any music student canâ€”and shouldâ€”take. Youâ€™ll get the option of hearing each instrument by itself and together with other instruments. My class was fortunate to have demonstrations from the students themselves, as well as have our orchestrations played by large ensembles.
Of course, there's a lot that goes with this class than just hearing music/instruments: Terminology again! It's back...with vengeance! I'll just use an example of one string technique that you you're probably familiar with, especially if you're a a fan of Mr. Koichi Sugiyama's Dragon Quest arrangements: Pizzicato
. More or less, pizzicato
for short--is instead of using the bow to play a note, you pluck it instead with your finger. Musical example: Dragon Quest VIII OST - Intermezzo ~ Menu Theme
Aaaaaaand, that's it for now. I don't want to make this too longer...for everyone's eyes' sake. From these classes I've extracted a great deal of knowledge that I would be able to apply if I was needed to listen to a piece of music critically. However, the perks of having years of music studying under my belt is that it's possible to explain in more detail why I love a certain piece of videogame music, whether in its entirety or just a certain section that redeems it from sounding like other game music.
TL;DR: Learning how to listen critically probably won't take your escape away, but grants you the ability to explain why you love a piece of music, and for that, would be a sacrifice of the sensuous worth taking...
I promise you that you'll be able to switch back and forth the sensuous at the snap of a finger (I'm still not caring about the progression of Silly-Go-Round while I'm listening to it right now). ;)