Holistic Listening

11/28/2015

 
Yesterday I heard an exceptional choir sing a Palestrina mass in its proper setting, a liturgy.  Everything was going well until the Benedictus.  It arrested me immediately into a state of attentiveness that I find difficult to describe.  It was glorious.

Afterward I commented to a friend/colleague who sings in the choir on how special the Benedictus was.  His face lighted up as he agreed with me: apparently it is a strict canon for three voices.  

A conversation with a mutual friend brought up the difference between listening for structure and just listening.  I maintain that it was the special structure that caught and held my attention right from the start.  That's what I call a successful structure, for that is its purpose.  Whereas, to me, listening for structure is to risk missing the point.
 


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