- "Nós podemos ouvir música" - We can listen to music (in general)
- "Nós conseguimos ouvir música" - We can listen to music (in general, stress on being physically capable of listening)
- "Nós podemos ouvir a música" - We can hear the music (one song, stress on being allowed to listen to it)
- "Nós conseguimos ouvir a música - We can listen to the music (one song, you can physically hear the music instead of just being allowed to).
This looks like an ideal place to show my ignorance of the use of the Portuguese definite article.
When I read "a música" I think of "the music" and "the song", but I also think of the abstract concept "music". I know your examples show music in general as "música", but is there no way that "a música" can be translated as simply "music" in some situations and, if so, is there something stopping that interpretation here?
So, reading between the lines you are saying that the definite article in this sentence must be translated. I'm trying to think of other examples I can use to probe this issue. I noticed that you've just answered a question about "a natureza"; notwithstanding the figurative use, how would you translate "Eu posso ouvir a natureza (ao meu redor)"? Would it make any sense without "a"? I'm sorry if these sound like elementary questions.
It wouldn't make sense without the article in Portuguese, that's correct. "Natureza" hardly ever shows uncoupled from the article when it means "nature" (it's always a concrete idea, even when used figuratively).
About the translation, I suppose you're a better expert in all-things English ;) I'd probably use "the sounds of nature" instead of just "nature", but I'm not entirely sure about whether nature alone would take "the" here.
Thank you for your help. About the English sentence "I listen to nature": it has a poetic sound to it, that's all, nothing that wouldn't be understood, although I suppose some might employ it to mean that they are taught by the natural world rather than physically listening to the sounds of nature.