Analytical listening is a way of listening to an audio composition whereby the meaning of the sounds are interpreted. An analytical listener actively engages in the music he is listening to, as opposed to passively enjoying it. They consider the elements of a piece, such as lyrics, to interpret the intentions of the artist.
Analytical listening is contrasted with critical listening, which focuses more on technical sonic elements, such as rhythm and tone. Critical listeners are particularly interested in how different instruments are coordinated in a piece of music. Sophisticated listeners are often aware of both technical and semantic aspects of music simultaneously.