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Musical vs everyday listening
On the record, I generally try to stay away from hypotheses about
mechanisms and try to stick to functional descriptions (off the record
is a different story). In any case, this distinction between "musical"
and "everyday" listening was first formally proposed, as far as I know,
by Bill Gaver in What Do We Hear in the World (1993). His argument was
based almost wholly on intuition. Since then, various researchers (such
as myself) has been trying to provide empirical evidence for this. If
you are at the spring ASA in Utah (plug time) Valeriy Shafiro and I are
co-chairing a special session on topics in environmental sound research
and that is one of the issues we hope to tackle.
Peter Lennox wrote:
what you and Brian are implying here is that 'musical listening' is
substantively different from the kind of listening that has evolved in
the face of normal environmental conditions where survival issues
naturally take precedence. This places musical listening in a context of
where 'normal' mechanisms have been 'hijacked' for some other use,
outside of the usual evolutionery pressures - this is Stephen Pinker's
position, i think. However, I feel it can't be so black-and-white -
environments aren't always so urgent (and in any case, being a stranger
in morocco should awaken one's survival instincts sufficiently to
suppress any luxurious non-survival-oriented perceptual styles. I would
accept that musical listening might be somewhat analogous to using
vision to appreciate a 'nice view' where imme3diate threat is clearly
absent - but the analogy can't be pushed too far; our recreational use
of vision seems somehow less abstract - it's more usually of 'things'
(even if colour is exaggerated) whereas music is the 'thing' in itself -
with exceptions in both cases, of course.
Dr. Peter Lennox
Signal Processing Applications Research Group
University of Derby
Int. tel: 1775