Notes on the practice of listening

I think (modular) music changes my mind :slight_smile:

Edit: is my mind also a modular system? :upside_down_face:

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Some interesting reflections on the subject in the present context and more here…

‘Simon McBurney is joined by legendary pioneers Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno and Nitin Sawhney to explore the act of listening’


re: perceiving change in one’s listening, made me think of this paper (there’s the notion that experiencing a peculiar listening situation may enhance the listener’s awareness towards dimensions of sound ignored until then).


For me, it was really the process of learning how to listen to different styles of music that helped me move into new listening realms.

Like ambient is a good obvious choice. You don’t listen to ambient in the same way or for the same reasons as you would pop music. Ambient tends to be more of a textural thing, which makes long drawn out minimal tracks a positive. This also works for techno and experimental music listening. Dub music in a lot of ways as well.

Then there’s jazz. Jazz can cover a lot of different styles of listening from harsh noisy free jazz to almost ambient to funky fusion to the more “typical” bop sound and many more.

Once I discovered these ideas it occurred to me that being able to understand music or sound is largely a function of how you approach it in your own head.

Once I got beyond the kind of exploratory period where I searched out as many different sounding musics as I could so I could teach myself how to listen to them, I got more into trying to listen to styles or types of music to match my mood. And from that I got into trying to use other styles to alter my mood.

Not coincidentally this was around the time I became very good at DJing.

These days I really like listening to music played from vinyl over my hifi. This is the ideal manner of listening. I rarely to never use headphones. I listen in the car as well. I don’t have music playing all the time. I enjoy the sounds of my environment as well as silence.


In a kind of magickal way, humans make music and in turn, music makes humans!

I’m fascinated by the growing field of music therapy. If I had a clone, he’d be studying that!


This book was the first book I was made to purchase by my guitar instructor when I first began learning to play. To 14-15 year old me, I was definitely too distracted to appreciate it. Its been a while, and I believe there was a fairly rigid stance against electronic music (this is from the mid-late '90s I believe), but still interesting to read a chapter every once and a while.


Woah! I can’t wait to watch this whole thing…

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