Blown Away by Music

‘How’ do you listen to music?


Visiting a friend recently, I bought some records over and later in the evening, we sat down and spun some vinyl. I sunk back into the sofa and closed my eyes as the music started to wash over me, really enjoying the feeling of letting the music take me away to another place…..

Then I heard something tapping. I opened my eyes and my friend who was sitting close by was sitting on the edge of his seat, tapping his foot on the floor. We were both listening to the same piece of music, yet both sitting differently, listening in a different way.

So how do you listen to music and does the way you listen say anything about you?

Over the years, some people have expressed that they like the sensation of the artist being in the room, right in front of them. Its like there’s a palpable intimacy between you and the artist and in this case, ‘realism’ describes how believable that sensation feels to you. Someone once said, ‘I can feel the singer’s breath and the little nuances in her voice. That gives me goose bumps’.

Others have said that the greatest connection with an artist is experienced as the feeling that you have been transported to the venue where the artist is playing and you feel that you are actually there. The venue cues, ambiance and energy associated with a live performance are the secret to enjoying the music. This is true ‘realism’ they say.

So what works for you? The sensation that the artist is in your space or the sensation that you are transported to their space?

Some people sit back in their listening chair that has been carefully positioned in the ‘perfect’ spot. Others sit forward on the edge of their seat and lean into the music. Some don’t move while others are off the sofa, walking around the room physically interacting with the music. Some people not only turn off the lights in the room, they turn off the displays on the equipment to get a totally dark environment. Others have no concern for the lighting.

Some people are sensitive to the structure of the music or aspects like the PRAT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing). Others love a balanced frequency response and focus on a perfect blend of bass, mids and highs. Some people tune into the soundstage and focus on the width and depth of the sonic landscape presented by the system.

Others are imaging junkies and really enjoy the positioning of the singer and the instruments in space. Some people are really sensitive to the separation of all the parts of the music whereas others prefer it presented as a cohesive whole. Some people are sensitive to tone and others to dynamics and the energy of a performance.

The listening experience is totally subjective and highly personal. Music is being apprehended, interpreted and experienced by the mind and everyone’s mind is completely unique. So ultimately, it doesn’t matter ‘how’ you listen to music because you will listen in your own way.

It is very interesting though and being aware of your sonic preferences, tastes and your personal ‘hows’ can help you select a system that presents your music in a way that enables the greatest chance of emotional connection and enjoyment.

What are you sensitive to? Have you ever thought about it? What are your priorities?