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SpecificOcean
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Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

...about the ways I listen to music, and how those ways have changed.

I don't recall the last time I've put on a CD or LP, then actively listened without doing something else. I used to do that all the time. I need to to do it again.

I do listen to music while I'm using the PC, or as background to doing other things, or in the car. I often stop what I'm doing and attend to the music in that situation (I had to pull the car off to the side of the road the first time I heard Tom Russell!).

I find that, when I'm in a store (e.g.) with background music playing, I'll focus on that. There's one particular song that I've heard perhaps 3 times in the local Kroger store. The main part is forgettable, but it has one of the most sublime chorus parts I've ever heard! I'll probably never know who performs it, or the name of the track.

I realized that I pay FULLEST attention to music when I'm hearing it live. I'm annoyed by smokers and those who don't turn off cell phones as well.

Thanks (as usual) for making me think, Art!

trevort
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Here, here!

What good is all the fab gear in the world unless bring your own perception as much in focus as the rest of the rest of the transmission chain?

Over the past few months, I've been looking at the best way to improve my audiophile experience, and as much as adding room treatments is often described as the most effective way to make enhancements (which I've done), it is obvious to me that even greater benefits will come from improving one's attention to the music one is listening to.

This is made obvious by putting a cd on my home system and doing something else, then putting the same cd in my inferior car system and sitting quietly and attending to the music without distractions (parked of course!). The difference in the musical experience is dramatic, but is so obvious we rarely discuss it.

There are many reasons to pursue this hobby, but if achieving a connection to the music/musicians is primary, we will not get there without setting aside the time for undivided listening!

It is surprisingly difficult to do, but one thing that helps me is to assign listening the same priority as reading (or movie watching, which I am more likely to do focused activities). Thus I treat myself to a "bed-time story", which is to listen to a cd (or part of one) before bed, giving myself the space to have a musical experience in my busy life.

BillB
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

If I've worked in some sit-down listening time at night, I always feel better than if I had missed it or done something less rewarding (e.g., TV).

I've had great experiences with my iPod with stock earbuds - because they've allowed me to be in places and times really listening, even when it wasn't at home in front of the good stereo.

rvance
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Triple Threat and BillB- Absolutely right on observations. In a previous thread someone asked if we had any friends who were audiophiles. I talked about a friend who has an Onkyo/Paradigm Monitor HT system and another who is a musician with a great vinyl collection, but hopeless equipment. But they are audiophiles because they are the only people I know (at least in Crescent City) who actually sit down and listen to an album all the way through.

Maybe we are merely musicophiles because none of us has state of the art high end stuff.

I also get great comfort from my 20 gig iPod files (now with Grado iPhones) recorded at 256 kbps because sometimes the family won't tolerate my monopoly of the A/V room or the volume or type of music I listen to. I also bring my iPod to work in the school district van I drive and play it through a Kensington FM converter, which has unbelievably good stereo separation for a transmitter device (way better than the Belkin I had). It isn't high end but it keeps me connected with the music, which is the point after all (isn't it?).

rabpaul
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
If I've worked in some sit-down listening time at night, I always feel better than if I had missed.


My day just won't be complete if I don't listen to music and no matter how late, I will still listen to at least one CD before going to bed.
I am one of those who listens to a CD from begining to end and do admit that at times I doze off. Oddly enough when I next play that same CD again because I think I have missed part of it, I seem to be know what's coming next. I think subconciously I have still listened to the music.
I could never do anything else while listening (other than dozing off) and when it comes to songs (Buble, Westernra for example) I tend to sing along silently and on occasion out loud too.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
... when it comes to songs (Buble, Westernra for example) I tend to sing along silently and on occasion out loud too.

Judging from your picture, you don't seem the type.

Poor Audiophile
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Great article & I didn't know Art plays Bluegrass! How cool is that?! Well, cool to someone like me anyway. I like different types of music, but Bluegrass is my favorite. I outgrew "Rock" awhile ago.

BillB
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

ARrgh. "outgrowing" rock makes as much sense as outgrowing classical or bluegrass or jazz. you must not have been listening to the best stuff. Glad you are enjoying bg tho.

q. what's the difference between banjo songs?
a. Uh, well, they DO have different names...

rabpaul
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:

Quote:
... when it comes to songs (Buble, Westernra for example) I tend to sing along silently and on occasion out loud too.


Judging from your picture, you don't seem the type.


LOL, that's not me (its a Czech Composer) although we do share the white hair and the pensive (as in dreamily thoughtful) outlook.

linden518
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

I think Jan probably means that someone who likes Janacek so much would most likely not be so into Buble, etc.

But diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks!

Buddha
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Art's comments fall along an interesting continuum.

Is it "The more disposable you make something, the more disposable it becomes?"

Music can now be so easily had and accessed, that it most assuredly has become slightly 'devalued' in some situations. But maybe we should just get over ourselves and just quietly put the damn gas in our cars.

Art draws his line in the sonic sand, but he draws that line conveniently (as do we all, but we should remain cognizant of the fact) at the edge of his own Hi Fi hypocrisy. (Which is OK, it's Art's column, after-all, but February's Dudley pronouncements smack of the old man yelling at kids to stay off his lawn.)

An aside: To stay in the spirit of Art

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

While in high school I had a young, "how did I get here" Jesuit priest teaching Religion class. This priest had been spirited away in the middle of the night from a South American country along with several other activist nuns and lay people lest they meet an uncertain future at the hands of the government. While the Church considered what to do with him he was assigned to teach at a school filled for the most part with the sons and daughters of doctors and lawyers and successful business men. Friday was the day for Mass and this priest pulled his turn in front of a rather rowdy group of somewhat well to do teenagers in middle Illinois.

His sermon was, "Why are we here?"

That's all. Just, "Why are we here?" Then he resumed the Mass.


Quote:
I don't exactly think Beethoven had in mind Art's ability to pull the Pastoral Symphony off of a shelf on a whim and blast through a symphony that was designed for a time of dressing up in one's finest and spending an entire evening anticipating the symphonic piece as an event. A shared event, at that, with visually stimulating performance spaces with gilded fixtures ... If we are to criticize someone for wanting to listen to a portable device while riding on the metro, then why shouldn't the ghosts of Toscanini and Liszt take us to task for listening in our slippers and T-shirts.

This was the late 1960's and when asked about proper attire for Mass this still young priest didn't insist upon fancy dress. None of the peasants he had worked with could afford fine clothes and yet they received the same Sacraments as the rest of us. When asked about whether God was present in the chalice as the Eucharist, he responded that God was present in the forest if that is where you went to find Him.

In Shakespeare's time, you would have been robbed, beaten and left by the side of the road for dead if you went to one of his plays dressed as anything but a peasant. Today we think of viewing Shakespeare largely as an event to be held in gilded palaces.

I don't know that any of that is relevant but it seemed so at the time I posted this.

Buddha
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:

None of the peasants he had worked with could afford fine clothes and yet they received the same Sacraments as the rest of us.

I bet the peasants put a higher relative effort into their appearance at church than the average American curchgoer. So, who was really 'dressed up' for church?

Anyway, I was really just trying to goof with idea of when music becomes 'too accessible.'

Is there such a thing?

Elk
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
Anyway, I was really just trying to goof with idea of when music becomes 'too accessible.'

Is there such a thing?


I argue that this isn't possible. How can art be too present? (Leaving aside the argument whether all current music is art.)

Another fun reference point is that opera was originally both high art and high entertainment. Opera audiences were far from quiet and readily enjoyed the staged antics and acting, while drinking and eating. It sounds more like a Vegas show than current opera performances. It was also probably an absolute blast.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
I bet the peasants put a higher relative effort into their appearance at church than the average American curchgoer.

I don't know. From what he said they were all dressed for work since everyday was a workday for these people.


Quote:
Anyway, I was really just trying to goof with idea of when music becomes 'too accessible.'

Once again I can't say with certainty but these people seemed to surround themself with music from the accounts the priest gave. They had their cultural music which had been handed down and passed around and they had "church" music they sang during the day. Music was very accessible but it was their own music and it didn't require a gilded hall - or any hall for that matter.

As far as "accessible" music goes, we seem to be in a country and an age where attendance at live events is down if the instruments aren't amplified. Fewer people play instruments than fifty years ago. That must say something about accessibility.

trevort
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

I still haven't received my issue, but that needn't stop me from pundit-ing.

I don't see that changing the context of listening necessarily cheapens it: as in listening to Beethoven in slippers and T-shirt. I'll grant that it cheapens the cultural experience. There is a potential loss moving from the concert hall to the living room, but like Jan and Elk remind us, live performances are not necessarily prime musical or theatrical experiences.

At any time in history, making the change from listening in tux to playing the piece oneself is arguably a move toward the music, enriching the experience. (ignoring the counter-argument that your own ham-fisted rendition does not reveal the piece as fully as the concert performer).

Listening repeatedly is something like practicing a piece.

While repeated listening in an armchair may be anachronistic, studying is not.

So while we may be slouching a bit by studying by listening to a recording rather than learning the instrument then practicing the piece of interest, I will assert that some music we listen to repeatedly was meant to be heard many times (Check out the origin of Bach's Goldberg Variations, for a famous example).

So yes, Liszt and Dudley may take us to task for our irreverence, but I argue that the musical experience is alive and well, though it takes different forms. Substitute music room recreation for audiphilia. Or even, substitute music room recreation for these crazy kids today, taking their favourite tunes and mashing them up on their computer!

Eternal Optimist

tomjtx
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Fewer people play instruments than fifty years ago. That must say something about accessibility.

Do you have a source for that claim?
Music education is alive and well in the US and throughout Europe.
My perspective may be different because I teach in the largest school of music in the US, but most of my friends around the US and Europe say enrollment is rising at their universities and conservatories.
At the K-12 level there is a large number of students studying an instrument with a private teacher.
The majority of my university students make a decent amount teaching such students and make a good living wage building on that base when they graduate. And much of this is classical music instruction.

Re. listening to Beethoven etc. All it takes is the effort and desire to give the music the attention it deserves in order to understand it. This can be accomplished at home w/o a Tux :-)
Of course going to a concert is more conducive to taking the music seriously but it is not a prerequisite.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to put on a great recording of a late Beethoven quartet and listen to the music with the score in hand and can enrich the live event when a quartet comes to town.

I am not arguing a recording can equal a live concert, it can't. But recordings can enhance the live experience and serve as a good substitute when the live concert is unavailable.

Elk
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
Music education is alive and well in the US and throughout Europe.


At least when it is funded.


Quote:
My perspective may be different because I teach in the largest school of music in the US . . .


Which school is this?

Not only are there players, the desire to play is still present. After I pointed out to my 16 year old nephew that if he put as much effort into playing a real guitar as he put into playing Guitar Hero, he actually asked my sister in law to find him a fretless bass (she plays just about everything and is a shopper extraordinaire).

She found a good used fretless, a decent small amp, and put strips of reference tape on the neck where the frets would be.

He now spends hours with the bass, playing along with recordings and teaching himself to play. He actually is getting pretty good. And playing bass is a great choice as it increases your chances of getting into a band with others that are better than you (bass player jokes aside).

Also good evidence that the kids are out there playing is the fact that after every concert I play there are shy 10-14 year olds that are studying trumpet that want to talk. They also always want to see my rotary valve piccolo trumpet up close. They are truly interested in learning and playing.

The other musicians often get approached as well, even the tuba player (he probably answers lots of questions about beer).

tomjtx
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Elk, you have a PM.

When it is funded , indeed. It is sad that public schools don't put more money into the arts.
Although I tell my classical guitar students that the only employable Bachelors degree in music is Music Ed.

Especially in south texas the schools are hiring guitar educators. Granted , you have to direct the mariachi choir but it gets a lot of those kids into classical music as a result.

A former student of mine ( he did his Bachelor in Mus. Ed. and his Master's and Doctorate in guitar performance with me) started out in the public schools on the border and then landed a University position. He still helps coordinate the guitar in the schools program and gets excellent kids from high schools. He also directs the high school division of the Guitar Foundation of America and oversees the national high school guitar competition.
The level of classical guitar playing at the high school level has made enormous strides in the last 10 years and is competitive with strings now.

These are some of the reasons I have an optimistic view of the future of music in western society.

It also doesn't hurt that my 15 year old is now bored with hip hop and like the Beatles as well as David Russel :-)

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
Do you have a source for that claim?

No, I didn't bother to bookmark such information. The article is about six months old or older and was based on statistics which indicated the fall off in the various types of entertainment that had been common in the home over the decades. The general decline was blamed on the access to numerous non-interactive pass times. There was some information regarding percentages of people who had played an instrument at an earlier age but no longer do and the stagnation of professional opportunities for musicians once they have a degree.

Certainly, if more students are studying performance, that is a good thing. However, the general thrust of this article was about a lack of funding for professional orchestras and therefore the limited number of positions the students could possibly obtain once they received a degree. The trend, according to this article, over the past four to five decades has been larger numbers of students with degrees while the number of professional jobs stayed the same or actually declined.

Elk
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
Granted , you have to direct the mariachi choir but it gets a lot of those kids into classical music as a result.


Plus the guys in a good mariachi band can really play. You have to be good to keep up with them.

tomjtx
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

We even have a Mariachi group here at the university :-)

KBK
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Even those who don't have an 'instrument'..can still have one! I sung in 3 different choirs over a period of about 7 years. I used to have a decent control over my voice. I was even a damned good vocal mimic, iffin' I says so myself.

I get to be the fat vocalist in the band, I guess.

And my point of posting: Art's bit in the mag this month gave me bit more insight to his bean, which seems like a nicely well thought out place.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
Art's bit in the mag this month gave me bit more insight to his bean, which seems like a nicely well thought out place.

Ya gotta wonder about someone who hates "I Love Lucy". 'Splain it to me.

Elk
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...


Quote:
Ya gotta wonder about someone who hates "I Love Lucy". 'Splain it to me.


I am in this camp. I can't stomach the whining and the slapstick. Seinfeld also makes me glad I have a life.

Whenever I start to watch a show like this I am painfully aware I just wasted five minutes of my life that I can't get back.

Buddha
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

I used to get alot of mileage from a "Three's Company" joke.

Back in the day, when the topic of favorite shows would come up, I would say that "Three's Company" was my favorite show. During the esnsuing polite silence, I would add, "My favorite epsiode is the one where there's a big misunderstanding."

It was a great joke, cracked me up every time!

Oh, getting back on topic for the thread, I liked "Seinfeld" but never developed a taste for "I Love Lucy." Nothing against her, just not my cup of meat. It seemed like everybody used to always be shouting in those old shows. Maybe it was a microphone thing? (See? Slightly back on to an audio ralated topic! )

KBK
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Re: Art Dudley's Listening made me think...

Buddha..that's a really great shot at taking the low road while flinging one over their heads. It's nice when you can hit two strings at a time.

My favorite conversations are the ones where you end up speaking with someone who can fork a question/statement/response into at least three different roads..and you dish it back. Sadly, they don't happen that often. It seems like not enough folks can even walk and chew bubble gum these days. Or I'm getting old and a hair cynical.

Nah!

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