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Trained musicians, what do you notice when you hear a song for the first time?(r/musictheory)
I’m trained in Jazz and Classical, so the chords will run through my head whether I like it or not. Then I usually notice the instrumentation, rhythm, how tight they are as an ensemble, etc. (I can usually tell if a soloist knows the changes or not- hasn’t been a hinderance, just funny sometimes).
Knowing theory has made me enjoy music more, in fact. I disagree with the people saying it takes the magic away. The important part is not allowing your analytical, objective listener to overpower your emotional, subjective listener. They should both be there, but an imbalance of analysis will suck your enjoyment dry. Knowing the language of music gives you access to the conversational, thematic realm of it. You notice and pick apart the different themes/phrases with new brain tools, which allows you to analyze the piece on a deeper, thematic level. This is why I believe people studying theory tend to eventually gravitate towards Classical and Jazz once they get these tools, as their brains enjoy picking apart the once indecipherable intricacies that popular music doesn’t for the most part offer.
As for learning basic analytical skills, Aaron Copland wrote a book called What to Listen for in Music that covers this topic without getting into too much technical detail. He intended it to be a book the complete layman could use to learn the art of really listening to the conversational/thematic part of music.
If you want a cold analysis of these songs, the easiest way to practice this would be to get your instrument and figure out the chords behind these songs, then write them down. Your brain will get better at it, and start picking up characteristics like root/scale degree, inversion, chord quality, etc. almost immediately.