People buy more records than they can listen to. They stockpile what they want to find the time to hear. Use- time and exchange-time destroy one another. [...M]usic is no longer heard in silence. It is integrated into a whole. But as background noise to a way of life music can no longer endow with meaning. - Jacques Attali
This quote is taken from an article “Looking at Records” by Philip Auslander (link), where he quotes Attali’s paper “Noise: The Political Economy of Music”. Auslander’s paper speaks about the commodification of music, and how the simple act of viewing a record, or looking at it is what the consumer derives pleasure from. I see this all the time in people of my generation, especially with vinyl records coming back into popularity. As no one has the time to listen to all the music they own, we begin to stockpile. And continue stockpiling for the sheer enjoyment of the view of our stockpile. I know countless times I have compared the size of my iTunes library with a peer, and felt that satisfaction when my number was much larger than theirs.
But just because you have all this music stockpiled – does not mean it gets listened to. Maybe you put it on, and go make dinner, just to have something on. And this is when the music loses all meaning.
I am guilty of doing this all the time. I just put on my music, get busy doing something else, and forget it’s even on. I want to begin trying to actually listen to my music more now. Focus on what about it makes me happy and what I enjoy about the piece.
One thing I’m going to try to do is consider all musical entities a “piece”, instead of a song. Even the shift in a title changes your perspective on the art form. It takes it out of the realm of casual, passive listening and into that of active, critical listening. I think popular music in general has turned into more of a hobby/craft for some people and has lost it’s creditability.
From studying at a music school, I’ve begun to gain a new respect for the process of composing and creating a piece of music. And it’s a “piece” – not a “song”. A part of a whole that may be an album or a symphony or an opera. Moving farther in my career, dreaming of being a recording engineer, I am hoping this change in mindset from “song” to “piece” will help me gain a further understanding of my art.
I urge you to do the same. Give your music the listening it deserves. Don’t just place your music on in the background, to consciously listen and be actively involved in your own musical indulgences. I’m interested to see what others will find when they start to critically listen as well.
Here’s a Matthew Good track that I’ve been listening to a lot lately to get you started.
This is absolutely heart-warming and incredible.
Miracle Of Science of the Day: 29-year-old Sloan Churman was born deaf. She has worn hearing aids since she was two, “but hearing aids only help so much.”
Eight weeks ago, she was fitted with an Esteem “hearing implant.” Here she is turning it on for the first time.
It also gives me hope that if one day I lose my hearing – I can regain it!
If Banksy taught me anything, it’s to not really like Mr. Brainwash in his movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (if you like graffiti and haven’t seen this movie already, go do that), I really like this piece.
Mostly because the guy in the chair is the guy from Dolby or Sony or some other company that I don’t know the name of right now that is all about their great sound systems, it’s a nice juxtaposition of graffiti with sound and music. The idea is retained but the source, in this case music, is replaced with spray paint. It’s clever.
Anyways. I just like this. I hope you do too.
I really want to see a video or hear a recording of this! This is from the 63rd international Cannes Film Festival. Something about Sound of Noise. What’s even cooler is that the drumset on the far left – is the same as mine! Except for the extra tom. But you guys don’t really know what that means. Still – Awesome!