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Re: music listening styles
There is a danger that this discussion will become just a collection of
personal anecdotes, but here is my contribution. Like Harriet and
Pierre, I have been involved with classical music all my life (as an
amateur pianist, concert goer, and collector) but unlike them I do not
have advanced professional training as a musician. In stark contrast to
them, I am not aware of "analyzing" the music I hear in any way.
Undoubtedly my brain is doing things that might be described as
analytic, but I am blissfully unaware of it. I listen entirely for
pleasure, and while this might be called an "emotional" style of
listening, I rarely feel strong emotions when listening. I would prefer
to call it an "engaged" style combined with an evaluative attitude
towards performance. I enjoy music to the extent that it holds my
attention and leads to a bodily feeling of engagement or internal
participation in the music-making. At the same time I evaluate whether
the expressive nuances meet my expectations; this is not an analytic
process but merely a matching of internally generated expectations to
what I hear. So, perhaps the contrast between my listening style and
that of Harriet and Pierre is what Christian is looking for; only now we
need more systematic research on such styles and individual differences.
When Pierre says it is "totally impossible" for him to have music as
background, I wonder if that is not a slight exaggeration. Perhaps he
could ignore the music if he wanted to, only he does not want to. I find
background music extremely distracting, too, because I feel compelled to
listen to it and engage with it. However, I can also "turn it off", most
effectively by thinking about something else, which may even be
different music. My mind often wanders while listening to an
unremarkable music performance and even while playing the piano. (Your
mind never wanders, Pierre?) Of course, once this happens I feel I
should not have listened to the music in the first place; I feel guilty
about not having given the music its due. There is an ethical aspect to
classical music listening; one feels obliged to pay full attention to
it, out of respect or whatever. It means a lot to us.
I'd also like to repeat a comment I made in an earlier message some time
ago. While there is a certain amount of research on the effects
background music has on various activities, there is virtually no
research on the effects various activities have on music listening. One
reason may be that this issue seems of lesser practical importance;
another reason may be that the effectiveness of music listening is
difficult to assess. Nevertheless, it seems a theoretically interesting
topic to me, and I wish someone would tackle it. For me, thinking
interferes with music listening, as does reading and any motor activity
that requires close attention. However, working with numbers, such as
analyzing data on the computer or solving a sudoku puzzle, does not
interfere at all, and I do this often while listening to music. There
are music-compatible and music-incompatible tasks (and others in
between), and the interactions are probably bidirectional.
Pierre Divenyi wrote:
As a person with a first life lived as a classical pianist, I second
Harriet’s note. I would only add that my brain does not just try to
analyze auditory input classified as music: it is totally impossible
for me to have music as background to activities or conversations. For
background acoustics, I need (and, if I may, recommend) silence.
On 4/1/08 10:56 AM, "Dr. Harriet Jacobster" <hjacobster@xxxxxxx> wrote:
For me personally, being a classically trained musician, it's very
hard to just listen "emotionally." My brain is constantly trying
to analyze what I hear. This is even more so in an unfamiliar
piece of music.
Also, are you looking at live vs recorded performances?
Harriet B. Jacobster, Au.D.
Board Certified Doctor of Audiology
Lyric Audiology, pllc
"Bringing Words and Music to Your Ears"
Christian Kaernbach wrote:
We are looking for research on the effect of "listening
styles" (listening modes, listening strategies...) on the
effect of music on the listener. How does the "impact" of
music change if one listens to it "emotionally" versus if one
listens to it "analytically", or anything of that kind. Any
hint (even far fetched) welcome...
Bruno H. Repp
300 George Street
New Haven, CT 06511-6624
Tel. (203) 865-6163, ext. 236
Fax (203) 865-8963