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Listening Attitudes in Music

Listening Attitudes in Music

Course Materials: Jeff Todd Titon et al. Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World�s
Peoples, Shorter Version/3rd Edition. Belmont, Ca.: Schirmer,2009, ISBN: 978-0=495-57010-3 (includes

3 audio CDs).

A minimum of 250 words for each threaded discussion is required for your answer to each discussion

question. Students may post anytime during the week to either discussion.

Why did the Marquis Wen (p. 253) more than two thousand years ago find ancient music boring, and

what has changed in our listening attitudes since then?

Is this true in Western music culture, too? Please cite examples.


Listening Attitudes in Music

During a conversation with Zi Xia, a Confucian scholar, Marquis Wen asks him why he
finds it quite boring to listen to ancient music as opposed to the new music from other kingdoms,
such as the Wei and Zheng kingdoms. Marquis Wen informs him that whenever he listens to
ancient music, he immediately lies down and is asleep within no minute. He does not find the
ancient music appealing at all, and according to him, it only serves to tire people and put them to
sleep. Zi Xia explains that the ancient music is quite peaceful, moves according to the rhythm of
the drums and at a steady beat and speed. From the start of the music to the end piece, it moves
cleanly with peaceful sounds.
New music on the other hand, is quite chaotic and uneven, and it is this lack of harmony
that keeps Wen awake. Zi Xia further explains to Wen that what he hears when he listens to new
music is airs or just sound and not music (Tan, 2008). Ancient music was filled with history,
culture, and deep information about the achievements of ancient rulers. It provided guidance on
managing family life, personal growth and development, and living peacefully with others.
Judging from the conversation between Zi Xia and Marquis Wen above, it is quite clear
that the music of today is quite unlike what was there, in ancient times. Zi Xia describes new
music as chaotic and full of vile and unrighteous elements (PureInsight.org, 2012). It is not
beneficial to its listeners, and only gets worse with each new generation. Just like Wen, the

current western culture listens to the airs and not the music, which indicates that listening
attitudes have not changed much since the ancient times.


PureInsight.org. (2012, May 21). A Question from History: Why Does Ancient Music Tire
Tan, M. A. (2008). A Study of Yuan Zhen’s Life and Verse 809–810: Two Years that Shaped His
Politics and Prosody. Madison: ProQuest.

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