I would like to take you on a journey of the ear, as it were — come along and listen with your imagination. Think about the following scenarios as they occur to me in life and imagine living through them yourself.
Every morning when I get to the office, one of the first things I do is to prepare an On-The-Go Playlist directly on my iPod. There are about nine of us that work in the office and we share music playing duties.
I play music for about two to three hours and then everyone else plays whatever music they like. The way that I put together playlists is by selecting records and adding those records in their entirety. I do not add half of a record and half of another — I believe that a record should be heard in its entirety to be best appreciated, and I am trying to promote appreciation of these records while I am at work.
Therefore, for the following two to three hours, the sonic landscape washes over you as one album turns into another album which turns into another album. There are some extended play records that play, which are shorter than the full length records — though not as short as the singles. Nevertheless, it is easy to let the music sweep over you and fade into the background. This is well and good for music appreciation, but now let us approach music differently.
Now let us imagine that we are sitting in a room. In the room there are two comfortable chairs and a turntable connected to an amplifier and speakers. You sit down in the chair and have a sip of raw blue agave sweetened tea — I made it for you! I take a sleeve from the shelf and show it to you — one of the recent releases from Forest Family Records, Gauntlet Hair. We have a laugh looking at the beautiful cloudy color of the record and I put the needle on the record and sit down.
For the next four minutes, we listen to the song “Our Scenery.” Therein lies the big difference. We are sitting in the chairs, listening to every note of the music. It may be because we know in four minutes one of us is going to have to stand up and flip the record to hear more, but it causes us to be more attentive to what is being played in the moment. We are remaining in the unitasked moment and when the song ends, the record is flipped and we listen to the song on the other side.
Earlier this morning, I was listening to a fantastic album by The Kinks, “The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society.” Towards the end of the song that would be the last song on one side of the album, there is a fantastic musical callback that ties together the whole first side of the record — it is there because it was written that way. It’s much more interesting and pleasant to listen to it in that way, rather than listening to a hundred songs at a sitting and not really fully appreciating any one of them.
This is a fab-o article, Gordon!
What if someone in the office doesn’t like the music picked for playing? Can they fast forward or are they stuck listening to what other people like?
It depends on the why. For example, if someone just doesn’t like it, we go by the majority. There was once when someone said that they had a deeply personal reason for not hearing the musician — negative personal experience — so we pushed forward. When I pick music, I try to pick sounds that are universally appealing for the whole office. 🙂
I certainly don’t own an awesome pimped-out record like the one pictured — or a record at all I’m afraid — but you certainly made a good case for me sitting back and giving my undivided attention to a full album sometime this weekend.
It’s not a very lofty aesthetic sort of thing, but it does add a great dimension to listening when you know and anticipate the song that’s going to come next.
Give it a try and let us know how it goes! Background listening and full listening is so different, I have found.