We interrupt your casual listening experience to bring you the following special report: chord X just modulated to chord Y, which emphasizes pitch relationship Z, and this, in turn, reflects the overall macro structure of the first sub-section, implying such and such, and blah, blah, blah. Whoa. Slow down mister. Relax. Take a deep breath. It’s only a Kelly Clarkson tune. Hey brain, please refrain from identifying theoretical attributes of the music. Cheers. Thanks a lot.
For me, listening to music while in analytical mode isn’t exactly satisfying. I find that, in the end, listening for melodic function and harmonic progression greatly distracts from the rewards of simply wallowing in the music’s immediate visceral impact. Excuse me for being shallow, but the surface-level elements are really music’s most important feature.
While I understand the value in learning theory and analyzing music, I fear that some composers have wound up on the dark side of the force, never to return. I know a composer who claims he’s actually unable to listen to music without recognizing its theoretical aspects. Lucky for me, the analytical part of my brain can easily be switched off. For those composers away at graduate school who didn’t get the memo: It’s okay to enjoy music again. Let it simply wash over you and take you someplace incognizant.