Tuesday, July 26, 2011
How to listen to music ...
Here is the good news : there are no rules for listening to music.
Here is how I do it. And I may be the most irrational of music reviewers.
Play the music first several times without listening to it. I mean without actively listening to it. Absorb it unconsciously, concentrate on other things, think of other things, do other things. The music will seep into you.
Don't treat music like an artifact. Treat it like nature. Something that is just there. Surrounding you. Don't even think about how it is made, how it came to be, how it evolved. Don't look at its parts or elements or structures. That's interesting stuff for biologists and geologists and physicists and possibly chemists too. Don't objectivise art. Let it overwhelm you. Let it surround you. Let it blow you away. Let it drench you.
Equally like nature, don't even think too much about who made the music. You will be deceived for sure, and it closes your mind to other options. It's about the music, not about the musicians, and certainly not about their reputation - before or after.
If the music is any good, it will grab your attention. If it is really bad too. If it is neither good nor bad, you will not notice it. Like you will not notice nature most of the time. It will leave you indifferent. If it is really bad, like an icey hailstorm or an erupting volcano, you will run away. If it is really good, either spectacular like high mountains cascades, or sweet like a spring breeze, you will want to be exposed to it again, and again.
That's when you can start listening to it for real. Now you listen to it attentively, but again without too much rationalising. Any conscious effort to listen will detract you from the totality of it. Concentrate on the music as a whole. Let it resonate within you. Stop thinking about how the musicians do what they do. Don't start to even think what key they're playing in, or which rhythm. Be the music. Switch off your thinking brain. Put on your experiencing self. Undergo the experience. Let your self be carried away on the journey the artists prepared. Be part of it.
Never think the following : who made this music? what is coming next? how did they do that? should I like this? is this my genre? does it relate to anything I know? never think : what will others think of me?
Never think. Be all emotion.
Be the music.