Imagine playing a game.
I have a guitar with me. I play a piece, your role is to identify whose piece it is.
A funky riff, with a swift but clean solo. You know you've heard this before. Or at least something like this.
Finally you say, 'Red Hot Chilli Peppers.' I smile, and just when your hope is building, I shatter it like a broken mirror, saying, "No. It's Guthrie Govan."
Why couldn't you guess Guthrie? (Assume that you hear Guthrie quite often). Why RHCP, when they are quite different.
To a large extent, it is because you haven't analysed the music of both Guthrie and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Analysis is a broad concept, often very subjective. I'll try giving a general view blended with my opinion.
Analysis forms the logical part of music. As per Wikipedia, it seeks to answer, 'How does it work?" I think that analysis does not necessarily have to be always rational ; intuition works well too. Like in cases of guessing whose piece it is.
Generally, music analysis lets you understand what's happening inside a musical piece; often leading to developing your own style of playing or singing.
Therein lies it's importance. You can become a very avid listener when you become a proper music analyst. However, the balance should always be there, between feeling the music and thinking about what's happening inside. A proper analysis is when you 'feel the depths of the song leading you to realise what's happening and who is doing what'.
The secret that I'm talking about here focuses primarily on increasing your ability to understand a specific artist's music. When you properly listen to an artist or a band, you get to know what exactly is their style, and in which direction their songs usually go.
I've seen that people put their playlists on shuffle and listen to whatever song that comes. However, if you want to analyse an artist's music, listen to that artist only. More precisely, listen to an album, keeping shuffle off.
This serves two main purpose -
1. You get to understand what the music does, and in turn realise intuitively a uniqueness in their music.
2. You get to know the overall feel of the album, creating a good platform to compare the sound of that album with another of the same artist.
This trick, to listen to an album without shuffle, has helped me a lot to understand artists and bands better. You also feel a sense of curiosity and explore more about the album, sometimes finding out weird facts that aid in further understanding of the album, and the artist.
It is very simple, and yet, very profound in understanding the nature of someone's music. It feels as if you are inside the music, inside their lives, feeling the emotion that they felt while making the song. It can titillate you to the extent that people start calling you 'weird'. 'Empathic listening' is how I'd like to label it.
Music becomes so much more, so much organised and so much enjoyable once you develop this. Trust me, it's worth it.