This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit with old friends. As we are prone to do we had many different sessions of playing and enjoying music. We practiced and performed a make shift harmonization of The Postal Service’s song Such Great Heights and got down and bluesy to The Beatles’ Rocky Raccoon.
In the midst of the night a friend and I began discussing what each of us look for when we listen to music.
The first thing I pay attention to when I listen to a song is its timbre, i.e. the feel of the song. I attune my ear to the manner in which the song is delivered and can usually tell if I like a song within the first ten-seconds of hearing it.
When I’ve decided that the timbre is of favorable quality I then turn my attention to more technical aspects of the song-making process. I isolate the melody and chorus, breaking down how they’re arranged and attempting to discern why I like them. After rolling them around my head a couple of times I then try to isolate other layers of the song, mentally isolating background pads from guitar leads to see how and why they work. The last part of a song that I pay attention to is the lyrics. I’ll notice the way the lyrics are sung quickly but I don’t focus on their actual content until the end.
My friend began telling me how he listens to music. He focuses on the technical aspects of a song first and works his way from there - ending on its timbre. Usually he and I agree on what songs we enjoy listening to but every so often there’s a diversion. Maybe it’s due to the way we listen to music, or maybe its just taste.
All I know is that music plays a very large part in my life. No matter how I listen, I know that I love to listen.