inACTIVE Listening

When is the last time you sat down with an album and actually listened to it?

  • I don’t mean put the CD on and did something else.
  • I don’t mean listened to music as you travel to and from work.
  • I don’t mean had music on as you sit with friends and chat.

I mean, actually listen to it?

I’m fortunate enough to work with young people and constantly have the chance to question them in relation to their music, what they listen to, why they listen to it and where they listen to it. Its became clear to me that we no longer think of albums in the traditional sense. I think its too simple to describe an album as simply:

“A set of musical recordings stored together in jackets under one binding”

Its far more than that, for me its recordings in an order that captivates the listener, speaks of a time in history, draws you into the mood of the recordings and spits you out the other end in such a way that you want to put the album straight back on again. Its similar to the way artists build live set lists – its an experience and has to take a certain path, its not and never was supposed to be a “shuffling playlist” – we have created that. Its not wrong, its just not as was intended when the album was put together. Another conversation on this subject was with my own Father; (an addicted professional record collector). He has been a huge inspiration on me musically throughout my years and we spoke about the idea that people no longer listen to music in the way it was once the norm. Albums were like snapshots of time and were a focus on conversation, it was also clear from this conversation that the “jazz cigarette” played a small part in relaxing the listeners in these days so that they often couldn’t speak throughout the entire listening session (even it they wanted to).

Right, on to the reason for this post. After reading an article from Greg Wilson’s blog titled Living To Music where it talks about exactly this. Listening to music with full attention on the music. It got me thinking about my own circle of friends and that between us we have so many different interests in so many diverse genres & styles of music. So, in five simple rules the idea is this,

  • We decide on an album every two weeks and set a listening date and time.
  • We agree to listen to it without distractions (no telephone/email) in the comfort of our own personal space.
  • We use headphones if possible.
  • We agree to post a comment about the album (as simple as we like).
  • We also contribute to the pool of “Albums Worth Listening To”

So please, I’ve left the comments open on this post and would love feedback and ideas for albums which I will collate and post back about – I’m sure all of us put time aside to have dinner, to read, to go for walks in the park, even if this is just to get between 35 – 59 minutes out of your busy schedule to listen to something you have never heard before – its worth it.

Let me know if you’re interested?

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2 thoughts on “inACTIVE Listening

  1. You are so right on. I’m fifteen and sort of a musical everything freak. I don’t own an Ipod, though all of my friends do. I own a record player and a portable CD player. Everytime I see friends or classmates shuffling through their ipods with one earbud hanging down, I just wonder how they do it. I can’t muti-task when I’m listening to music. Me personally, like you mentioned up here, I focus on the story and the mood following the list of songs in an album so that I can fully grip and enjoy it. Even when I sit down to hear new things on Pandora, I can only listen. I just thinks that’s great that someone else feels the same.

  2. This is good stuff… so true. i try to dive into cd’s old and new and figure out the ups and downs of each track and listen to the music. But we get so caught up that we forget to just LISTEN…. Good Stuff!

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