How Do You Judge A Piece Of Music ?
Of course, judging any classical work, like anything in art or literature , is highly subjective . And often very difficult . Unlike popular music or Rock etc, where people will tend to like or dislike something immediately because the music is rather simple compared to classical , it often takes repeated hearings before you know if you like this or that symphony, concerto, opera or choral work or not .
Of course, in some cases , you will find some classical works immediately appealing , such as the works oif Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi, Schubert and other composers whose music is highly melodic . But with other composers , particularly ones of the 20th century and early 21st , the music can be downright puzzling the first time you hear it . This is why you should always try to keep an open mind and not make snap judgements on any particular classical work .
Your average pop song is brief and simple, with catchy melodies and a steady beat . You have the words to the song , that is, if you can make them out, which is not always the case . But in a symphony, concerto , tone poem ,or string quartet etc , you are faced with purely instrumental music , although there is an enormous amount of classical music which is vocal . A symphony or a concerto tends to take much more time to unfold than a pop song , and you have to concentrate in order to follow what is going on . If it's a programatic work, or one which tells a story or paints musical pictures , you need to know the details of what the music is trying to portray by reading about it. Operas can be quite long , in some cases more than three hours , not counting intermissions, although quite a few are much shorter .
This is why repeated hearngs are often necessary before teh muswic really sinks into your consciousness . If you go to a concert and hear something unfamiliar and complex , you may be baffled by it and THINK you don't like it . But if you try a recording of that work and give it repeated hearings , what sounds baffling or off-putting at first may start to make much more sense to you , and you can even come to love that piece . Then when you hear it live , it won't be a problem . This has happened to me so many times . Works which I could not make head or tail out of at first are now highly enjoyable to hear .
Once you have gotten enough experience listening to classical music , you may begin to form your own criteria of judgement . What are my criteria ? How do I know whether I like a particular work or the music of any particular composer or not ? There are basically two reasons why I would not like a work ; either it is just not interesting , a formulaic and nondescript work that leaves me saying "Meh ". Or there is something off-putting about the piece, something that just rubs me the wrong way .
But if I hear one piece by a composer who is new to me and don't like it, I try to keep an open mind and give other works by the composer a chance , and not dismiss the composer based on just one work . Music that is highly melodious is wonderful , ut a piece doesn't have to be conventionally melodious to be highly interesting and enjoyable. Thisis true of a lot of 20th century music .
I suppose the most important thing the remember in listening is to keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions about any given work .