#1
Right, I have a test coming up in college for Listening Skills soon. The thing is, I just never know what to listen for or to write down.

We get played some different tracks, and have to identify things about them.

Such as its tempo and style. Then indentify what bars instruments come in etc. I can do that bit.

However I struggle when it comes to explaining other instruments in the track and how theyre getting played. For example you need to comment on the important things of that track, which makes it different to any other track. Things that the instruments do that stand out.

I just cant ever do this. I listen and listen and my mind goes blank.

Any one else get this, or know how to practice this? I just sit listening to music trying to identify things in my spare time but get no where!
#2
Can you read (classical) sheet music? If you're in college I hope they're testing you on compound signatures, not just 4/4... read up on time signatures otherwise saying what measures instruments come in on would be completely guess work.

Things to note are what instrument(s) have the melody, who's playing in unison, and who has a counter melody. Pay close attention to the chord progression and any tensions created (and by who). Another aspect of the musicianship is the accents. Sometimes its as easy as listening to the drum parts, but other times you'll have to focus in on the instruments. Note where the accents fall, especially if they're not on the downbeat. If there is any instrument playing straight quarter/eighth notes say that ____ if keeping time and driving the beat. Dynamic contrast is important as well, as are key changes. Both are easy to notice if you look for them. Oh yeah, and look for rests where nobody plays or when sections breath in unison (separating different phrases).

Listen to some classical music with Brass/Woodwind instruments and try to analyze those. Since the tones and pitches are controlled by breath there is a lot more the instruments can do. Most classic music has a large percussion section that are doing some pretty complex things that give the songs a full sound even if you don't notice right away. Rock music, as much as I love it, lacks the depth to be studied on the college level. Avoid trying to judge those pieces, as all you'll get are superficial things that any serious musician would laugh at if you tried to pass it off as a serious statement of musicianship.
#3
one thing the above poster didn't touch on that i thought would be important would be texture/timbre and playing volume soft, loud, very loud (er well their italian equivalent terms) i think the above poster did mention instrument relationship, such as, is the piano playing something real low and the violin is playing something real high in comparison? the violin will have a great contrast to piano like that, subsequently could a cello be playing real low while a piano is playing high , that would have another great contrast, especially if there are wind instruments softly filling out the background and covering those wavelengths.
#4
Quote by z4twenny
one thing the above poster didn't touch on that i thought would be important would be texture/timbre and playing volume soft, loud, very loud (er well their italian equivalent terms) i think the above poster did mention instrument relationship, such as, is the piano playing something real low and the violin is playing something real high in comparison? the violin will have a great contrast to piano like that, subsequently could a cello be playing real low while a piano is playing high , that would have another great contrast, especially if there are wind instruments softly filling out the background and covering those wavelengths.


I did cover DYNAMICS (volume, changes in volume). By instrument relationship I meant what they're actually playing, as in melody and counter melody or accompaniment... The register in which an instrument is playing means very little in the scheme of things, not that there aren't places where a screaming flute line would sound better than in the lowest octave.

I take tests like this periodically, it's completely unnecessary to mention things like how high they are playing and how full the sound is. That's listing things you hear, not things you understand. These tests want you to comprehend relationships between the instruments. Most of all, they want you to look past any wow factors of what you're listening to. Use your music knowledge to figure out the function of the parts and rhythms of each instrument and why they were assigned by the composer.