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Listening and "listening"   You are logged in as Guest
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JBASHORUN

Posts: 1839
Joined: Jan. 23 2005
 

Listening and "listening" 

I recently figured out that I have at least two modes of listening to music. I call them "passive listening" and "active listening".

When I'm in "passive listening" mode, I listen to the music purely for pleasure. In this mode, I just enjoy what I hear, and don't really think much about exactly what I am hearing. I think I often drift in and out of what seem to be trance-like states.

In "active listening" mode, I pay careful attention to what I am listening to. In this mode, I actually think about what is going on inside the music... what the musician is doing.

I'd say that most of the time I listen passively, because it takes more energy and effort to listen actively. I consider it almost like enjoying the weather without thinking about the meteorology behind it. Or like enjoying going for a drive in the car without worrying about the mechanics involved.

Ofcourse, I'd say that knowledge plays an important part here. When one is ignorant of the "science of music" one can only listen passively... I think this goes for other examples in life too. But when you actually possess knowledge, you have the option to listen actively, and think about what you are hearing.

I'm still not quite sure how much of a voluntary thing this is... ie. can you choose to listen passively when you possess enough knowledge to listen actively? I don't know for certain, but based on my experience, I would say you can.

Anyway, its just another random thought that popped into my head, so sorry if I'm boring you all. But I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has any experience with different modes of listening.

Cheers,

James
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2006 14:02:04
 
fevictor

Posts: 377
Joined: Nov. 22 2005
From: Quepos / Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

I´m glad you brought that up when you did...right now I am at work with nothing to do and I have spent the last two hours or so browsing thru the upload section and YOUTUBE looking at videos...but more importantly, I´ve been trying to pay attention to the palos, hand positioning, etc. As you say, its really quite different than just listening for pleasure.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2006 14:11:52

JBASHORUN

Posts: 1839
Joined: Jan. 23 2005
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

Yeah, IMO knowledge is the key here:

KNOWLEDGE=POWER

Until you have a certain amount of musical intelligence, you are destined to listen passively to some extent. But once you obtain some musical intelligence, things start to appear differently.

Its a bit like the movie "The Matrix" with Keanu Reeves. You suddenly start to see through the external shapes, and glimpse what lies beneath: the numeric codes that they consist of.

Anyway, I'm not quite yet there myself... still a long way to go...

Jb
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2006 19:13:44
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

quote:

Anyway, its just another random thought that popped into my head, so sorry if I'm boring you all.


Bash,
You're definitely not.
I think you brought up a really important subject.
Myself, I cannot listen to any Flamenco player "passively".
If I get a new album, it takes me days to get through it, because I keep replaying tracks and listening to the stuff and getting the shivers on the great bits!
Listening to a great album is a physically and psychologically exhausting experience for me personally....
(I'm a Scot...I like to get my money's worth... )

As I've said before...I'm not a guitarist or anything, but I reckon to get the max out of the music, you've gotta try to play a little bit yourself.
Only then do you realize just how good some players are!.

To be frank, I've never really understood those so called "music lovers", who don't play any instrument whatsoever, but go to the Concert Hall and sit with their eyes closed and hands clasped across their chests in a relaxed euphoria and applaud with great gusto and call for encores.
I really can't see what they are tying into...

Before anybody jumps on me ..all I'm saying is I can't understand that mindset...not that it's "wrong" in any way.

cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2006 20:38:00
 
koella

Posts: 2194
Joined: Sep. 10 2005
From: holland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

I can't listen "passively"to music.
I'm always analysing rythms, scales and sound/expression. Especially concerning guitarplaying of course.

That's why I always play music without guitar when I'm doing jobs around the house or something. Otherwise I can't concentrate on the job.
My favorites are "Deep Forest" when doing carpenter jobs or "Harvest" from "Neil Young" when doing paint jobs.

Well, Neil plays guitar of course, but there's nothing to analyse
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2006 21:02:29
 
koella

Posts: 2194
Joined: Sep. 10 2005
From: holland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

Ron, you talk about the concert visitors.
What I don't understand is this : I know some people who own hifi systems that are worth a brandnew BMW.
When I try to figure out what they are listening to, I find out they even don't recognise the differnce between minor or major. They don't hear when the flute comes in and the violins stop.

Can you imagine.

They think I'm a looser, listening to NORMAL cd's instead of superaudio.
On a k-mart getto blaster.
I guess enjoying music has many different forms.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2006 21:27:11
 
Florian

Posts: 9240
Joined: Jul. 14 2003
From: Adelaide/Australia

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to Ron.M

quote:

To be frank, I've never really understood those so called "music lovers", who don't play any instrument whatsoever, but go to the Concert Hall and sit with their eyes closed and hands clasped across their chests in a relaxed euphoria and applaud with great gusto and call for encores.
I really can't see what they are tying into...


lol, they are very very important, and who knows mibe that fact that we play an instrument might be a disadvantage rather then an advantage to apreciating music.

because instead of hearing the melody we hear the mistakes and technique or spend the time thinking, "i wanna do that "or have allready made up our mind about the guys music before he even playd it.

all you need is a heart and ears to listen to music.

_____________________________

Rest In Peace Ron, I will never ever forget you my friend.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 7:00:28

JBASHORUN

Posts: 1839
Joined: Jan. 23 2005
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to Florian

quote:

all you need is a heart and ears to listen to music.


You're right, Florian. But listening to music and actually hearing what is there are two different things.

Its a bit like reading a book, but not fully understanding it.

IMO its best to be able to do things from both perspectives... listen casually or listen analytically.

As for whether this analytical listening is a bad thing sometimes, I would say yes, it can be... especially if you're like Ron and can't relax while listening to music. Many people claim relaxation is one of their main reasons for listening to music...

Jb
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 9:42:43
 
mcspookster

 

Posts: 11
Joined: Dec. 22 2004
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

I don't think the concert goers or the audiophiles should be criticized in any way for not learning an instrument (I'm aware that the above comments aren't necessarily criticisms). This is the beauty of music - it can be enjoyed on so many levels, from teenagers dancing at a nightclub to the most earnest session musician earning his keep. Nobody has any right to say that one is more valid than another.

Besides, there are a million suitable analogies. I enjoy watching Formula 1, but I don't want to race cars in my spare time.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 10:00:46
 
Romanza

 

Posts: 296
Joined: Oct. 24 2005
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

I cannot listen passively to flamenco although i can to other types of music, eg classical, pop etc.

With flamenco either I am picturing how the guitarist is playing it, what method is being employed eg alzapua, rasgueo etc. Often I am trying to identify the palos or when i know the palos trying to follow its structure and compas.

I also visualise the artist and imagining them playing it, eg when i listen to some of paco's older stuff i always picture him in his youth looking adorable (sorry female moment!!) and playing in that humble way of his.

Sometimes I picture the kind of dancing that would accompany a certain piece (indeed often i try to choreograph this myself with embarrassing results).

Then of course with the pieces i really love i sometimes picture myself playing them on stage in front of a rapt audience (IF ONLY!!!).
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 10:10:05
 
Florian

Posts: 9240
Joined: Jul. 14 2003
From: Adelaide/Australia

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

quote:

You're right, Florian. But listening to music and actually hearing what is there are two different things.


if they dont hear it the performer is to blame for playing only for advanced ears.

I know its flamenco but u are making it way to complicated for yourself, sure theres technique, skill, compas etc, but is only for us to worry about and admire, technique is just a tool to be used to create music.

Music is all that matters and thats for everybody from advanced listeners to beginners.
its not sience its, music sopposed to make you feel.

I think a guitar cd should do both, be in your face when you want to look deeper but at the same time eazly fall in the background when u just want atmosphere.

_____________________________

Rest In Peace Ron, I will never ever forget you my friend.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 12:02:45

JBASHORUN

Posts: 1839
Joined: Jan. 23 2005
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to mcspookster

quote:

I enjoy watching Formula 1, but I don't want to race cars in my spare time.


"Enjoyment" and "understanding" are not the same thing. And admittedly, you don't need to understand something to enjoy it. But it is possible to get enjoyment through understanding. And if you enjoy something, the logical step forward is to understand it as fully as possible. Unless you're just happy to take it at "entertainment value".

Perhaps you don't race cars in your spare time. But consequently, maybe your comprehension of racing is not the same as that of someone who does.

There's nothing wrong with just being "a spectator". But the problem with that is that you never really see (and understand) the intimate details of a subject.

Ofcourse, thats assuming you like the subject enough to want to see those intimate details...

Jb
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 12:35:47

JBASHORUN

Posts: 1839
Joined: Jan. 23 2005
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to Florian

quote:

I think a guitar cd should do both, be in your face when you want to look deeper but at the same time eazly fall in the background when u just want atmosphere.


Florian, you're right again, and its easy to over-complicate this subject. Perhaps its the wise man who takes things for their "entertainment value" when it suits him. I have certainly learned to do this!

Jb
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 12:40:44
 
DoctorX2k2

 

Posts: 211
Joined: Jun. 14 2006
From: Quebec City, Canada

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to koella

quote:

ORIGINAL: koella

Ron, you talk about the concert visitors.
What I don't understand is this : I know some people who own hifi systems that are worth a brandnew BMW.
When I try to figure out what they are listening to, I find out they even don't recognise the differnce between minor or major. They don't hear when the flute comes in and the violins stop.

Can you imagine.

They think I'm a looser, listening to NORMAL cd's instead of superaudio.
On a k-mart getto blaster.
I guess enjoying music has many different forms.



Hey hey hey
If I had money to waste, I'd definatly buy a great music system, maybe not worth a BMW but still. Music quality is important to me when I listen and that's why I hate Internet music because of their low encodings... it just sounds dull. They don't compare to a brand new CD played into my father's home theater system. It's just amazing to be totally overwhelmed by the music, just as if you were in the middle of the recording studio. You can really appreciate the subtilities. If I wanted to listen to a classical concert CD, there's no way I'd use a stereo, simply because the lack of surround would totally understate the Master of Orchestra's work.

But I don't think you're a loser with your k-mart getto blaster... but I think you're missing something.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 13:59:39
 
koella

Posts: 2194
Joined: Sep. 10 2005
From: holland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to DoctorX2k2

quote:

ORIGINAL: DoctorX2k2
You can really appreciate the subtilities.


Yes that's what I meant. How do you you appreciate the subtilities when you don't recognise them.
I understand that it's a kick to hear it like it's happening in your own livingroom. That also goes for a slamming door or barking dog.
"Listen"they say "doesn't it sound real"
Yes it does. But apart from that, it doesn't make me enjoy the music more.

I don't listen to sounds, I listen to music.
The Sound must have a certain quality of course.

But ok, everybody has his own preferences.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 14:43:36
 
DoctorX2k2

 

Posts: 211
Joined: Jun. 14 2006
From: Quebec City, Canada

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to koella

quote:

ORIGINAL: koella

quote:

ORIGINAL: DoctorX2k2
You can really appreciate the subtilities.


Yes that's what I meant. How do you you appreciate the subtilities when you don't recognise them.
I understand that it's a kick to hear it like it's happening in your own livingroom. That also goes for a slamming door or barking dog.
"Listen"they say "doesn't it sound real"
Yes it does. But apart from that, it doesn't make me enjoy the music more.

I don't listen to sounds, I listen to music.
The Sound must have a certain quality of course.

But ok, everybody has his own preferences.


What I meant is that you can recognise the musician emplacement in the orchestra, therefore know what the Master of Orchestra is doing when he gives his directions. And I guess anyone with the greatest knowledge of music would prefer that.

Like you say, it's a matter of preferences... you could give me the best flamenco record in the 50s, if it sounds really bad quality-wise, I won't be getting into it as far as I would with a great quality recording. I do enjoy music with the better sound. A Mono record sounds so bad that it pushes me away from the music. I like a good quality music so I can hear the accompagniyng or 3rd guitarist better and all the percussions. If I can't differentiate one from the other because of the lack of quality... there's no way I can try to understand and appreciate their music.

Just like a movie in a theater vs a movie on a mono TV... they don't compare at all. Especially war movies, when you could tell exactly where the explosions are and where the bullets come from. The keyword I'm looking for is Immersion.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 16:03:34
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13246
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to DoctorX2k2

For me, music is too beautiful and powerful to listen to "passively". People take for granted the fact we have recording technology. Imagine all the thousands of years people listened to music and really had to focus because all they had was the memory of it. There was a story of Mozart, how the score for a religious piece was kept in a vault and performed only on special occasions, but he saw the performance only once, and later scored it out and made variations on it. The church thought someone had broken into the vault, but in the end it revealed Mozart had photographic memory and total recall.

Anyway, I always try to focus on what I am listening to, even when going to sleep. Unless of course I think whatever it is SUCKS. But even then, I rather not waste precious time and I will simply not listen to it, and CERTAINLY not go on and on about how I think it sucks on a forum say. People are doing this contantly on the internet. If some one forces me to listen to something I don't like, that is different. I will be happy to give my 2 cents.

Hifi is definantly important. But I get a nice warm fuzzy feeling listening to old records, or even CD's mastered from them. But the highest quality available is ideal. I get into peoples cars and hear how they have the bass up too loud, or it is only midrange or something and think to myself what a shame they are missing out. Speakers are really important. That is the voice of the audio you hear. You can have the best audio source, the most expensive and hi tech player or hi power amp, or whatever, but if you have crappy speakers, then there was no point to it all.

Ricardo
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 16:36:33
 
Miguel de Maria

Posts: 3527
Joined: Oct. 20 2003
From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

I remember the summer I started to learn guitar, and all music, esp. guitar music immediately began to sound different to me. In some ways, I regret it because music existed in a more emotional way for me before I knew how to play! It's a very different thing now. I think before music went straight to the emotional centers, where now it is first processed analytically to whatever extent. My best friend, who learned to play with me, had a similiar experience.

_____________________________

Connect with me on Facebook, all the cool kids are doing it.
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Arizona Wedding Music Guitar
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 17:20:53
 
koella

Posts: 2194
Joined: Sep. 10 2005
From: holland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

@doctor. I guess you're right.
Maybe it's just my personal frustration. One of those blase hifi-freaks once asked me to bring a cd along that I liked. It was indeed an old flamenco recording. The cd player started to play. His eyes almost popped out while he almost choked on the wine he just drank. He turned of the cd and told me that this record was no good. Then he put on some steelstring guitar music claiming that that was better to show the hifi-quality of his equipment.

That's the world upside down in my opinion, no ?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 20:09:37
 
DoctorX2k2

 

Posts: 211
Joined: Jun. 14 2006
From: Quebec City, Canada

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to koella

koella

some people buy highly priced sound systems and don't have a clue about music... I totally agree with you on that point. BUT, for a knowledgeable person about music, they're definatly worth it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 20:57:06

JBASHORUN

Posts: 1839
Joined: Jan. 23 2005
 

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

I have to admit, some of the CDs I enjoy most are the old recordings by Sabicas, Carmen Amaya, Esteban De Sanlucar, etc.

Perhaps Hi-tech recording equipment wasn't around in those days, so even the CD version have a rough edge to them. But I do like the "raw" sound.

Surround sound isn't so important when listening to solo Flamenco guitar, as there's only one instrument.

But I did get a rather expensive pair of Bang & Olufsen earphones recently... the sound quality is superb! You could swear the guitarist was playing right in front of you. Not quite sure whether it does justify what was payed for them, though!

Back to the topic in hand, it sounds as though most of you guys have trouble "switching off" and just enjoying music at face value. personally, I have a time for active listening and a time for passive listening. But I can understand that the greater your musical intelligence, the more difficult it is not to notice the obvious.

Jb
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 21:04:48
 
koella

Posts: 2194
Joined: Sep. 10 2005
From: holland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

@Doctor: Yes your right.Forgot to mention that. When your musical knowledge covers placement in orchestra's and other things that matter then some good equipment is well spent.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 21:09:34
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to DoctorX2k2

quote:

they're definatly worth it.


Well..I'm definitely worth it too...at least that's what all the adverts on TV tell me anyway...


cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 21:31:17
 
Florian

Posts: 9240
Joined: Jul. 14 2003
From: Adelaide/Australia

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to Ron.M

quote:

For me, music is too beautiful and powerful to listen to "passively


what do you do when you getting "jiggy with it" ? music is secondary then

_____________________________

Rest In Peace Ron, I will never ever forget you my friend.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 11 2006 23:35:04
 
DoctorX2k2

 

Posts: 211
Joined: Jun. 14 2006
From: Quebec City, Canada

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to JBASHORUN

Back on the topic...

There are 2 ways I personally listen to music :
-Music alone
-Music in the background

When I listen only to the music... I just sit there and take special care to everything coming to my ears. It's just so enjoyable... I can't listen passively in those situations, no way. When I get tired I just do something else. Also, I've always been very picky on the music I listen to because little details can completly turn me off (oh I said it ).

When I'm doing something else with music in the background, I'm usually so focused on what I'm doing that the music doesn't make any difference... it could be over and I wouldn't even know.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 12 2006 1:43:16
 
Ron.M

Posts: 7051
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Scotland

RE: Listening and "listening" (in reply to DoctorX2k2

Doc,
Come to think of it...
I don't think I've ever listened to any music passively.
(Except for the muzak in elevators or when they put you on hold on the phone )
I'm not a big rock music fan, but I get a smile when I hear Keith Richards or Mark Knopfler work in a really nice run with great tone into the song.
Flamenco guitarists just leave me gasping for air....everything is just so damned good!
Goddamn!

cheers

Ron
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 12 2006 13:50:28
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