Do you find it difficult to listen to a new piece of music or a new artist?
As I get older I find myself with less patience when listening to a new piece of music. That could be older, established music or someone in the current climate.
I can hear my father now telling me to turn the volume down when I was blasting “Money for Nothing” as a teen! Am I turning into my father? Is my tolerance for the current music scene non existent? Or am I part of the new generation who like to flip from one song to another without any careful listening. I am guilty of both to a degree.
We all have a taste and tolerance and I guess this gets more ingrained as we get older. It takes more effort to listen to something different. For example I admire Rick Wakeman, but I find it difficult to listen to prog rock for any serious length of time. His latest instrumental album is very easy of the ear though.
One tip which I find helpful is to learn more about the person of group away from their music.
For example, amongst other books I have read the following…
Eric Clapton’s autobiography,
Billy Joel’s biography
Rick Wakeman’s grumpy tales
By learning more about the person (or group), I gain a better understanding about their music. I find a time line also helps. You can listen and see how an artist has developed and improved… or sometimes not!
You could even go deeper and look at a single song from an artist. Eric Clapton gives a background in his book about “Layla” and “Wonderful tonight”. I played them to death when I was in my teens to the point where I couldn’t listen to them for years. Now that I know the motivation and story behind the songs I can listen to them again with fresh ears.
I found Billy Joel’s biography quite tough to read in places. The author describes moments from his early career and the concepts behind songs. I listened on Spotify as I read. (how spoilt are we these days with music streaming!). This helped me with the point the author or Billy was making. This was a great way to bring the book to life.
The same is true for me about classical music. It may take more effort and time to listen to a long classical piece than a 4 minute pop song. By learning about Mozart’s life, the timeline of the pieces he wrote, it helps increase my interest. Robert Greene’s Master’s book has a good chapter on Mozart. This is a good introduction to his life and background.
Growing up in the 80’s & 90s video age has also shaped my listening skill. I do respond better to seeing someone playing music and you-tube is great in this respect. I can learn more about an artist or group with examples of their music. Or watching interviews with the artists themselves. Hearing a well known song in a film or advert also gives it a different identity.
I also think it’s beneficial to get out there and see live music. Watching a pro gives you a different perspective when you go back to listening to their music again.
I hope the above helps with gaining more skill to listening to new music. It’s something I have to work on, but having a broader taste of music is a huge benefit.
Please feel free to add your comments and any further suggestions you have.