How do you listen to music - and is that the ‘right’ way?

How do you listen to music - and is that the ‘right’ way?

This as the subject of a thread was prompted by a post in the Is the ND555 now the pinnacle of sound? thread, which evolved into a discussion of live vs recorded music, and one response included the comment: “either you are engaged with the violinist or have no idea of how one should listen to music”.

That got me thinking: how should one listen to music? Indeed, is there a “correct” way? How many ways are there? How does one learn? Here I am thinking in terms of listening for enjoyment of the music, as opposed to analysing it maybe to learn how it is constructed or how to play it.

To me, I have had no formal training in ‘how’ to listen to music, I just let it into my head through my ears, and feel parts of it through the rest of my body. Sometimes I may pick out different things in the music, perhaps focussing on a particular theme or instrument, other times not. Music that I like (and there is a lot that I don’t, or that to which at best I am ambivalent) induces pleasant feelings, engages me, can be uplifting, and I can very readily lose myself in it.

But I have no concept of how I ‘should’ be listening, or whether there is a better way, so it would be interesting to learn others’ views and experiences.

Original Post

Goodness!

I hope there is no correct way! I listen very which way on a variety of mediums. Sometimes I am concentrating and sometimes less so. Sometimes I enjoy the music and again sometimes less so! I would hate to think any of these ways are the 'wrong' way! I have enjoyed large orchestras live and disliked others. 

What I suspect I enjoy most is the passion with which a piece of music is played. So Tinariwen in a field with very few other people to Steve Wilson's latest via pop and Elgar all work for me.

I hope they do for you too.

I often wonder the same when flicking through the picture settings whilst watching the telly.   My preference for light and colour changes from what's watched and can be distracting, especially for others in the room watching. 

Having a palette helps enormously. Those times when listening has been questioned and you have needed to address it conceptually helps to give a broad line gestalt.

lutyens posted:

🔹 What I suspect I enjoy most is the passion with which a piece of music is played. 

🔹 Lutyens,....I fully agree with you,....the passion,...AND,..the inlevel of the artist,..allowing yourself to be drawn in to the music.

Find no other fast example,so I take this.....
Watch this clip between the time 3.50 – 3.60,.... thus 10 seconds.

🔸 Här kommer en YouTube-video till dig! https://www.youtube.com/watch?...v9Zvh6Yw&sns=sms

Tina has played this song thousands of times over decades,...yet she has 100% empathy, passion....and,..The most important,...she has fun on stage.
Love what she does for real,...and it knows the audience,and is dragged into the inlevels.

Artists who can convey that feeling to me as a listener,...well,then I do not think about how I listen,but are drawn only with,into the music.

Then,..if you are going to do a system installation,then you are naturally listening to other parameters as well.

 /Peder 🙂

I am not sure about the 'correct way' to listen to music; it never ever occured to me that there is such a way?  I often thought the 'best or natural way'.  At the end of the day its a subjective matter, unless the listening to music is for an ulterior purpose eg training to be a concert pianist or learning to play the cello.  I myself listen via stereo, but very often I am on You Tube discovering new music.  Is there a way to connect TV to HiFi in order to play YouTube on two speakers?  That would be fantastic for me as on You Tube I can get live concerts which features the band/orchestra playing infront of vast crowds/rock open venues which gives so much atmosphere of the live occasions.

Romi posted:

 but very often I am on You Tube discovering new music.  Is there a way to connect TV to HiFi in order to play YouTube on two speakers?  That would be fantastic for me as on You Tube I can get live concerts which features the band/orchestra playing infront of vast crowds/rock open venues which gives so much atmosphere of the live occasions.

🔹 Romi,...I understand what you mean by "feeling the atmosphere" from Live shows.
Albeit music,sound-quality is inferior to normal listening,..... of course.!
So,..this being able to experience the artist Live, compensates a little bit..... it becomes another dimension in music listening.

This I discovered first 6 months ago,when a friend sent a Tina Turner concert from Youtube to me.
Before that I had never listened to Youtube,... thought the quality was too bad.

Now I have found a level where I can listen to Youtube clip,Video.... concerts....and enjoy it.

I listen with Ipad or smartphone (easy to see the picture), have good headphones and a good USB DAC.
Am I at home, I have an even better DAC to the Ipad or the smartphone.
This seems to me, to be better than listening from the music system, perhaps because the music system is so mkt better so you hear the inferior quality of Youtube clearer.

Then,...you have another problem,if you stream to Ipad or smartphone, the quality can vary quite dramatically from day to day.But thats another question 😉.

But, it is possible to connect Youtube to the music system, but I prefer to listen as I described here.

/Peder 🙂

Simples - at least in my world. I cannot help but follow bass lines, I play bass.

To expand, my son introduced me to Rammstein, I cannot speak German, but that does not stop me enjoying the structure, the dynamics. But I also enjoy Leonard Cohen. The tunes are part of the music, but the words are the essence, the poetry hold the meaning. On a more base level, in a box somewhere I inherited a couple of Paddy Roberts albums, pointless listening if you do not follow the words.

Then, my wife only enjoys orchestral concerts if she can see the percussion section, I prefer to sit further back and enjoy the whole sound including the hall acoustic. She tends to listen for danceability in anything she hears.

I go to concerts of widely varied genres with a friend, she tends to sit perfectly still and claps "politely", I have trouble sitting still, tap my feet, sing along. She is a musician, has perfect pitch, I loaned her a CD, her analysis "wow, those harmonies in perfect fifths", I love the interplay of the singers, the phrasing, the altering of tone to tell the story in the song.

My son in law is a mathematician and a bell ringer, he enjoys a wide rang of music, but does not enjoy Bach, even on the mathematical level.

So, four people, four totally different ways of engaging with music, is any of them wrong? No, not for me.

The I Ching is considered by some scholars to be one of the most important books in history. It contains 64 hexagrams that are represented as 6 lines on top of each other. These lines can be either yin or yang (0 or 1, yes or no). 2^6 is 64. There are 64 unique combinations. There are 64 codons in DNA. 

The first hexagram is Qian (Heaven, The Initiating). It represents the male principle and is yang (activity).

The second hexagram is Kun (Earth, The Receptive). It represents the female principle and is yin (rest).

To listen is to be Receptive. Responding is Initiating. Every time one Initiates, one is not fully Receptive. Responding is an expression of you (body/yin, spirit/yang) ie foot tapping.

Try sitting completely still (eyes closed), relax and be Receptive, do not Initiate. Just Receive. Emotion could be considered a movement of energy/yang within the body/yin. E-motion. Energy in motion. Anger - rises outwards; up to the head. Joy - elation ascends; the body/yin feels light/yang. Pensiveness - twisted and knotted; lost in thought (analysis). Sadness - grief descends; the lungs may feel heavy. For some people, music may evoke an emotive response - empathy. Try listening. Do without doing.

In a relationship, is it more pleasurable to give or receive?

You may as well ask what is the correct way to look at a painting?  

The artist or the musician put their work out there and different parts of their audience take different things and get different pleasures from it. 

I may be a philistine because I do not understand and have not bothered to learn how to interpret paintings, does that mean that I am not looking at them in the correct way?

Good art and good music both “work” at many different levels, what matters is that you are looking and listening.

Olly

Listening to music is an emotional experience not a technical one for me.

An analytical approach means listening more to the Hifi rather than the music, if you see what I mean.

An example (forgive me, I have used this before, but it refers to Olly's ideas too). We own a large and unusual abstract painting. I find it peaceful and fascinating. My brother approaches it by staring at the surface from a few inches away and asking 'how has that been done?'. Both approaches to art/music are valid but they are quite different. Both of us get pleasure from the interaction.

I think we are all along that spectrum in terms of how we approach these things. in general the HiFi room represents more of my brother, this room more of me. Threads like, 'what is the best sounding track for a demo' are more him, threads like 'what tracks reduce you to tears' are more me. Concrete thinkers vs abstract thinkers if you want to categorise crudely.

So to answer your question; listen how you want, and listen in the way that gives you the most pleasure!

Bruce

Bruce Woodhouse posted:

Listening to music is an emotional experience not a technical one for me.

An analytical approach means listening more to the Hifi rather than the music, if you see what I mean.

An example (forgive me, I have used this before, but it refers to Olly's ideas too). We own a large and unusual abstract painting. I find it peaceful and fascinating. My brother approaches it by staring at the surface from a few inches away and asking 'how has that been done?'. Both approaches to art/music are valid but they are quite different. Both of us get pleasure from the interaction.

I think we are all along that spectrum in terms of how we approach these things. in general the HiFi room represents more of my brother, this room more of me. Threads like, 'what is the best sounding track for a demo' are more him, threads like 'what tracks reduce you to tears' are more me. Concrete thinkers vs abstract thinkers if you want to categorise crudely.

So to answer your question; listen how you want, and listen in the way that gives you the most pleasure!

Bruce

I think I might be unique, in that I can listen into many facets at the same time.   Analytical,emotional, structural,colour, shapes and form, tone, human touch and personality, what was intended, what was crafted, if it resolves what the artist behind it wanted.if a cable needs upgrading, if the right speaker needs just a millimetre nudge to the left, if I shifted my listening position forward a bit.

There is no wrong way to listen to music. I think everybody has all the modes between casual and very intensive concentrated. As mentioned before at it’s best it’s a fully emotional experience. The only thing I dislike is the Muzak which is forced upon you in the waiting line, in the elevator, shopping center....

And I don’t understand why there are people who are not so into music.

Maybe the wrong way to listen to music is in a busy restaurant. Dishes clanging, loud conversation, hard surfaces everywhere, tough to hear your companions, yet for some reason the proprietors find it a good idea to pipe-in some auto-tuned pop staples via tiny wall or ceiling mounted speakers with no apparent bottom-end.

I figure they're trying to increase the turnover rate, get more customer in and out. What a relief once you adjourn to the parking lot and can let your ears breath again.

TOBYJUG posted:
Bruce Woodhouse posted:

Listening to music is an emotional experience not a technical one for me.

An analytical approach means listening more to the Hifi rather than the music, if you see what I mean.

An example (forgive me, I have used this before, but it refers to Olly's ideas too). We own a large and unusual abstract painting. I find it peaceful and fascinating. My brother approaches it by staring at the surface from a few inches away and asking 'how has that been done?'. Both approaches to art/music are valid but they are quite different. Both of us get pleasure from the interaction.

I think we are all along that spectrum in terms of how we approach these things. in general the HiFi room represents more of my brother, this room more of me. Threads like, 'what is the best sounding track for a demo' are more him, threads like 'what tracks reduce you to tears' are more me. Concrete thinkers vs abstract thinkers if you want to categorise crudely.

So to answer your question; listen how you want, and listen in the way that gives you the most pleasure!

Bruce

I think I might be unique, in that I can listen into many facets at the same time.   Analytical,emotional, structural,colour, shapes and form, tone, human touch and personality, what was intended, what was crafted, if it resolves what the artist behind it wanted.if a cable needs upgrading, if the right speaker needs just a millimetre nudge to the left, if I shifted my listening position forward a bit.

That is fascinating. It certainly gives you a totally different element to your hobby, Maybe I also lack a technical appreciation as someone with no musical training or music-making knowledge whatsoever. I don't think that is a problem but it must open another perspective if you play music yourself.

I never listen to music and think, 'Oooh I wonder if it would sound better if'. I never tweak or fiddle once everything is set up. I suppose I occasionally note a bad recording or production but I think the actual performamnce of my HiFi is something I only consider when I upgrade-and that awareness lasts maybe a few days before I just accept what is in front of me.

Bruce

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