Practice listening to music

I currently listen to music:

  • While working
  • When I make/eat breakfast
  • In the car (recently with the AirPod Pros on Transparency mode)
  • Around the house on Google Home

For all of the above, I’m generally occupied doing something else. I miss the zen of just listening to music without distractions.

I remember how I would sit in front of the receiver entirely focused the music with a humble pair of MDR-V6’s on. Ah, how many late nights I had engulfed in listening!

Brain Pickings discusses how the composer Aaron Copland thinks about what he calls the Gifted Listener and the talent of listening:

The poetry of music, Copland intimates, is composed both by the musician, in the creation of music and its interpretation in performance, and by the listener, in the act of listening that is itself the work of reflective interpretation. This makes listening as much a creative act as composition and performance – not a passive receptivity to the object that is music, but an active practice that confers upon the object its meaning: an art to be mastered, a talent to be honed.

For me, the practice of listening to music involves revisiting existing works but also exploring new and possibly inaccessible pieces.

Some sessions have me playing a single song on repeat. Sometimes, I’ll go through an album, consumed by it, and sit in silence in its aftermath. Sometimes, I just let the algorithms take me on an adventure of discovery.

Each session, though, has me sucked into a world where I’m lost in the emotion and universe of the work. I can feel myself bringing my part to the music by listening, for the music has no meaning without the ears to hear it. Art has no meaning without us who are here to experience the art. The light of the sun is total darkness until there’s a planet to catch its rays.

When a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?