Beethoven, Mindfulness and Meditation

Standard

In Buddhism we speak of being “Mindful” during meditation. In meditation there are two parts of the mind; Concentration and Mindfulness. Concentration provides the power to keep you focused on the object of mediation. If and when your mind wanders Concentration is the force that guides the mind back onto the object. Mindfulness is the gentle part that pays attention to the object and notices that the attention has wandered. In this posting I present one of my favorite Symphonies, Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony as a focus for our meditation.

To facilitate our mindfulness I put forth some questions that I found in a very old album at a yard-sale recently. Please read through the questions before listening. The questions were devised to help measure audience perception in music appreciation class. But, it was found to do much more: the questionnaire ended up heightening attentiveness! Think about that, if you prepare yourself before you meditate upon something you will pay increase your mindfulness.

For those of you who do not share my love of classical music and are not familiar with some of the terms used I have included a list at the bottom of this post.

1. (True or False) Throughout the Eroica Symphony Beethoven uses startling changes in key and rhythm to achieve surprise and shock.

2. (True or False) The first movement opens with a quiet pastoral melody.

3. (True or False) The first theme of the movement is built on three notes.

4. In the developing section of the first movement Beethoven departs from usual practice and introduces a:
a. Fugal Passage b. Canon c. New Theme

5. (True or False) The first movement concludes with a short coda.

6. We would characterize the main theme of the second movement as:
a. somber b. dramatic c. wistful

7. (True or False) There is a fugal passage in the second movement.

8. The third movement is a:
a. Rondo b. Scherzo c. Theme and Variation

9. Would you describe the third movement as:
a. Dark and Sinister b. Frivolous and Gay c. Powerful and Driving

10. (True or False) The trio of the third movement features a fanfare for horns.

11. The fourth movement is a:
a. Set of Variations b. Waltz c. Rondo

12. Which of the following instruments prominently play one of the melodies in the fourth movement?
a. Bassoons b. Flutes c. Trombones

Here is the entire symphony. If you do not have time to listen to the whole thing listen to one movement at a time and return. They can also be downloaded at Archive.org

Answers for Quiz here. (In white text so you will have to highlight them to see them.)

1. T; 2. F; 3. T; 4. c; 5. F; 6. a; 7. T; 8. b; 9. c; 10. T; 11. a; 12. b
Musical terms:

Waltz – A dance written in triple time,
where the accent falls on the first beat of each measure.
Coda – Closing section of a movement.
Movement – A separate section of a larger composition.
Sonata Music of a particular form consisting of four movements.
Each of the movements differ in tempo, rhythm, and melody;
but are held together by subject and style.
Sonata form – A complex piece of music.
Usually the first movement of the piece serving as the exposition,
a development, or recapitulation.
Scherzo – Pertaining to the sonata form, a fast movement in triple time.
Rondo – A musical form where the principal theme is repeated several times.
The rondo was often used for the final movements of classical sonata form works.
Canon – A musical form where the melody or tune is
imitated by individual parts at regular intervals.
The individual parts may enter at different measures and pitches.
The tune may also be played at different speeds,
backwards, or inverted.
Fugue – A composition written for three to six voices.
Beginning with the exposition, each voice enters at different times,
creating counterpoint with one another.
Theme – A melodic or, sometimes a harmonic
idea presented in a musical form.

8 responses »

  1. This is a great post! I have always been fascinated on how music can effect the mind, and now I know a little more about music, other than what I learned in middle school band! 😉

  2. Fierce traveler….. Excellent post!… I love the Eroica, but, what’s not to love, eh? And thanks very much for the link to Archive.org, I wasn’t aware of a place I can get classical music to download…Deadhead recordings, too! SCORE! So, thanks for that…

    As a meditation practitioner for more years than I like to think about, I’m not terribly regular in my application of it; I tend to meditate when I feel a need for it, as an anodyne to my angst, rather than using it as a prophylactic against letting such dross build up. It is my angst that drives a lot of what I write, so I use it rather than avoiding it…. but, I’m accustomed to my idiosyncrasies in this respect.

    That said, I would say that this is an excellent method for focusing and concentrating, especially for beginning practitioners. Plus, you can’t beat Beethoven, not even with a metaphorical stick….. thanks for a great read!…. and the link, for sure….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s