Music held up to the lightJune 18, 2007
I’ve been thinking more about the notion of listening to music properly. By properly I don’t mean separating myself off in some hermetically sealed chamber with an amazing hi-fi system, but actually giving the music my attention, allowing myself to try and be ‘present’ with the music, become involved with it in a more focussed manner. i’m not trying to advocate some Zen-like state of meditation, but just an attempt to really understand the music rather than just let it wash past me.
In the past I’ve just not done enough focussed listening. A friend who told me he had a “listening room” seemed over the top to me, turning music into some kind of torturous chore, but just recently I can see what there may be to gain from this. Its not that I have been paying lip service to the music, but I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote to serious listening, spending the required time probably only when I intended to write something about the music in question. I can make all the excuses of working long hours as much as I like though, truth is I’ve been a bit of a lazy listener lately.
So I spent a little while today with a CDR of a concert recording that arrived in the post, and the experience served to underline my thoughts above even more. The recording was off the Angharad Davies / Tisha Mukarji / Andrea Neumann trio at the Music Lovers’ Field Companion festival in Gateshead a few weeks back that I wrote about here. In my review I said nice things about the set, as I enjoyed it quite a bit, but on the day I had been helping David Reid record the festival, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of doing it, recording a festival with David can be a stressful experience! Just before the set began there was a massive panic when one of the recorders wasn’t working and once resolved I collapsed into my seat with great relief to try and enjoy the music.
What I think then happened is that I struggled to involve myself with the music as much as perhaps I normally would. I say this because the CDR of the show that David sent me of the recording is really very nice indeed. Spending time with it listening to the interactions between the musicians and the spaces they create between sounds has been a very rewarding experience, and above all a very different experience. I wrote somewhere at this blog about how CD releases of concerts can sound very different to your memories of the shows themselves. Well perhaps this could be one reason why, more focus and attention paid at the right time will definitely reveal more…
Incidentally in the new issue of The Wire that arrived here today Nick Cain wrote about the above set; “The trio of Andrea Neumann, Tisha Mukarji and Angharad Davies produced a sequence of inconsequential, unlinked passages” (Thats all he wrote, its a Wire review after all!)… Dear oh dear Nick…;)