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Listening Techniques? (Read 1052 times)

Offline Mayla

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Listening Techniques?
« on: September 30, 2014, 05:58:18 PM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 06:09:52 PM »
I think you think too much Foxy.

Just lie back with a large beer and simply listen.

That is all there is to it.

Thal
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Offline Mayla

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 06:12:27 PM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 06:14:32 PM »
Well, if that is the case, I can only suggest more beers.

Simple really.

Thal :-*
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Offline Mayla

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 06:34:30 PM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 06:37:33 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline coda_colossale

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 06:42:28 PM »
And, I do not think (anymore) that music is about making somebody or trying to make somebody feel something ... for me, it would be more about lifting one's consciousness of life to a higher level - perhaps this can happen through feelings, but feelings/emotions are not the ultimate point.

I think art is all about an absolute devotion to emotions (or hormones if you're Nihilist), to the point of losing ones conscience, cognitive capabilities or even consciousness. A fake state of ecstasy, that I believe is your -high level- is the ultimate purpose of nearly everything a human being enjoys. Sex, religion, alcohol, drugs, poetry, music, even a movie or football game...

Though practically everyone mostly listens to music for the non "meta-physical" qualities, like the first 8 that are listed above, that is not really listening.

Offline Mayla

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 06:57:50 PM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 07:40:24 PM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline goldentone

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 09:24:26 PM »
Since my initiation into discerning specific communication in music, and I speak here of sans words, I don't have any specific technique I've developed, except repeatedly immersing myself in the music in an inner search for its light.  The root of my shift is connected to a soul expansion that began in my early 30s.  I'm not sure if there is any technique for this aside from the affinity of the searching soul.  What you seek you will find.

Listening to music because of "the way it makes us feel" is not the stuff of profundity, but that may just be a less cognizant expression and recognition--a child perspective--of the need for beauty that we can never divorce from as inseparable in music.  Beauty is the breath of music.  The communication of ideas, revelation, and truth we might conceive as the adult realm.  To go from words in music, to music without words, is like music splitting into another art.  In this latter sense there is a transcendence where music alone has become and absorbed language itself.    
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Offline Bob

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #10 on: September 30, 2014, 10:35:19 PM »
The first couple posts are interesting.  I remember mentioning that idea to a principal once.

I wanted the kids to just listen to a piece of music.  That was it.  Not write about it.  And esp. not write about it while it was being played.  The principal wanted them to answer questions about the music as it was being played.  My reasoning?  They're not using their brain for listening.  Their using their brain to think and generate text.  Even if I asked questions later, I didn't want them to know that ahead of time.  And I really didn't want to direct their attention too much.  Whatever they hear is up to them.  If they never experienced a style of music, why am I getting in the way or forcing them not to pay attention to the music?
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline gustaaavo

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #11 on: September 30, 2014, 11:10:57 PM »
Bernsteinīs lectures are indeed marvelous and relate fundamentally to the topic at hand (indeed, spoiler coming, the "unanswered question" is precisely "Whither Music?").
I have the same "problem" as the OP in that I feel it necessary to be rational about everything. And, since I devote a huge amount of my time to music, I've tried countless times, without success, to explain myself WHY.
If I were to expose my thoughts on the topic, there woud be two possible outcomes: I would simply not post anything, or I'd write a big incoherent ramble.
So why write at all? I want to show you the ideas of some geniuses which I've found useful (in fact, these points of view have been exposed in the thread already):
- Zimerman (from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCzabFlmIlQ): "organizing people's emotions in time".
- Schnabel (from "My Life and Music", Dover): "The only medium by which to establish contact with musical ideas are tones. [...] By the art of music I understand here the comparatively very young art of absolute music, and never applied or auxiliary music. This absolute, autonomous, independent music has developed into what is perhaps the most exclusive medium for the spiritual exaltation of the active individual in an intimate, private sphere of personal experience."
- Bernstein (this will be long but surely worthwhile; from "The Joy of Music", Amadeus Press): "Ultimately one must simply accept the loving fact that people enjoy listening to organized sound (certain organized sounds, anyway); that this enjoyment can take the form of all kinds of responses from animal excitement to spiritual exaltation; and that people who can organize sounds so as to evoke the most exalted responses are commonly called geniuses. These axioms can neither be denied nor explained. But, in the great tradition of man burrowing through the darkness with his mind, hitting his head on cave walls, and sometimes perceiving a pinpoint of light, we can at least try to explain; in fact, there's no stopping us.
[...] has anyone ever successfully "explained" the Eroica? Can anyone explain in mere prose the wonder of one note following or coinciding with another so that we feel that it's exactly how those notes had to be? Of course not. No matter what rationalists we may profess to be, we are stopped cold at the border of this mystic area. It is not too much to say mystic or even magic: no art lover can be agnostic when the chips are down. If you love music, you are a believer, however dialectically you try to wriggle out of it."
- Gould (this quote would be really huge, so if you would've read it, you might as well enjoy the whole thing): http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/glenngould/028010-4020.06-e.html

Offline Mayla

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #12 on: October 01, 2014, 02:39:22 AM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline outin

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 03:04:20 AM »
For me there are countless of ways to listen to music...some are analytical as those listed by Dima. At the other extreme there's not actually "listening", but just letting the music go right into the deeper (primitive?) parts of the brain. The pleasure of the former is more intellectual one while the latter is more like any physical pleasure. Music for me can act like a drug and sometimes I even get addicted.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 03:15:32 AM »
I think you think too much Foxy.

Just lie back with a large beer and simply listen.

That is all there is to it.

Thal

Probably wine for me, but otherwise in complete agreement.

Some of you people make it seem so much like bloody hard work!  :P
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #15 on: October 01, 2014, 03:36:51 AM »
When I listen to music, I'm listening to the ideas that are being communicated.  If the performer(s) fail to communicate those ideas or if the execution/interpretation is poor, then that is not music.  Music is a language and as a musician, I immediately understand and comprehend it even on first hearing.

Non-musicians, on the other hand, focus on listening to the aesthetics - how it sounds - without knowing what the ideas are or understanding them.  How a non-musician becomes a musician is similar to how a non-English speaker becomes an English speaker.  How that process happens, I have only limited ideas.  However, there is a heavy emphasis on emotional response.  Without this emotional response, there doesn't seem to be any other way to feel the music.  And without feeling, there doesn't seem to be any way to understand it.

Online ted

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #16 on: October 01, 2014, 03:42:08 AM »
I conjecture that music is completely abstract sound which communicates nothing, and that meaning is imposed on it by the individual listening brain. These meanings vary from person to person, and even from day to day for the same listener. Such meanings as appear to exist collectively do so through conditioned social and historical habit and are neither necessary nor sufficient. I do not see music as a language in the same way as mathematics or English are languages, talking about very specific things, of invariant meaning over all listeners or readers.

Sometimes my imposition of meaning on music is spontaneous, involuntary, mystical and visionary, but it is also possible to consciously impose meanings while listening, and this is a process I have begun to explore more often in late middle-age, principally because it enables me to enjoy music whose traditional, collective association I dislike. It continues to surprise me how many musicians listen analytically. While I can see merit in doing so if one is studying a particular piece, or a particular sort of historical music, to me it is rather like attempting to capture the beauty of a rose by precisely measuring its petals.

I recall you and I had this discussion years ago, Mayla, parhaps more than once, and more or less agreed to disagree. As to drink, no, even one drink obliterates my propensity for visionary experience. It's a bit like listening to music while driving, I cannot do that either. Might be just the job for some people though, and good luck to them.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline j_menz

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #17 on: October 01, 2014, 03:55:39 AM »
I conjecture that music is completely abstract sound which communicates nothing, and that meaning is imposed on it by the individual listening brain. These meanings vary from person to person, and even from day to day for the same listener. Such meanings as appear to exist collectively do so through conditioned social and historical habit and are neither necessary nor sufficient. I do not see music as a language in the same way as mathematics or English are languages, talking about very specific things, of invariant meaning over all listeners or readers.

I don't entirely agree here, on two counts. Firstly, whilst the listener certainly imposes their own meaning on music, I still believe that there is some underlying meaning there, or at least a stimulus to meaning.

The other count is that I don't accept that English (or any other human language) has an invariant meaning to all listeners or readers. Partly that comes from explicit training in actually trying to create such usage, in contracts as an example, and seeing the difficulties and impossibilities; but also from the reading of literature - poetry especially - where meaning is fluid, ambiguous and very much akin to music in many respects.


It continues to surprise me how many musicians listen analytically .... to me it is rather like attempting to capture the beauty of a rose by precisely measuring its petals.

 ;D Quite!
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline Mayla

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #18 on: October 01, 2014, 04:03:33 AM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline outin

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #19 on: October 01, 2014, 04:11:27 AM »

The other count is that I don't accept that English (or any other human language) has an invariant meaning to all listeners or readers.


Exactly. Language and the formation of meanings are as complicated to analyse and understand as experiencing music.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #20 on: October 01, 2014, 04:27:43 AM »
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No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline outin

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #21 on: October 01, 2014, 04:37:34 AM »
An analogy: It's just like being in love with a wonderful person - you don't simply sit back and indulge in watching, listening to, touching that person; you want to find out more and more every day about that person's inner world to enrich your perceptions.

But not all people do, here's one example of individual differences. Intellectual curiosity and willingness to find out more about things does not seem to be a universal feature in humans.

Online ted

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #22 on: October 01, 2014, 04:47:47 AM »
I concede that English was a poorer example, j_menz, than mathematics regarding invariance, especially Finnegans Wake and most poetry ! As to your points, Dima, the inclusive "and" always being preferable to the exclusive "or", I must also admit my own lack, knowing little about either theory or classical music. Once again, I appear to have mistakenly generalised from my very peculiar personal stance. Never mind, it gets a few people thinking if nothing else.
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Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #23 on: October 01, 2014, 07:17:01 AM »
Some of you people make it seem so much like bloody hard work!  :P

Indeed, some on this thread no doubt work up a good sweat just by listening.

No need to go to the gym.

If listening required any effort, I would not do it.

Thal
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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline swagmaster420x

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Re: Listening Techniques?
«Reply #24 on: October 01, 2014, 07:25:47 AM »
Indeed, some on this thread no doubt work up a good sweat just by listening.

No need to go to the gym.

If listening required any effort, I would not do it.

Thal
Doesn't it take, in some cases at least, deliberate involvement, which is effort?