In Aaron Copland s essay How We Listen to Music, he examines the three ways people listen to music. He calls the ways we listen to music planes . The three planes he examines are the Sensuous Plane, Expressive Plane, and Sheerly Musical Plane (400). He uses examples of each plane and how people use it.
The Sensuous Plane is used just for the pleasure of musical sound. People turn it on just to have something fill the air with sound. He says people use music to escape the everyday boring events of their lives. They use music as a consolation or an escape, (401). People use it to take themselves into a dream world.
The Expressive Plane is used when people try to relate the music to something in their life. The more it reminds them of something, the more expressive it appears to them. Not all people agree with one another s view of what the music means. Composers have a way of shying away from any discussion of music s expressive side, (401). He goes on to state that they do this because music s meaning differs from person to person.
The Sheerly Musical Plane concerns the notes, words, harmonies, rhythms, tones, melodies, etc. Professional musicians focus on these things only when writing music. They use the music as a way to express themselves and tell how they feel about things. This also happens to be what the composer/song writer is usually criticized for, i.e. Marilyn Manson and Eminem.
At the end of his essay Copland says that people don t listen to one plane or another, rather we listen to all three at the same time. Actually, we never listen on one or the other of these planes. What we do is to correlate them o listening in all three ways at the same time, (404).