Re: music listening styles (Bruno Repp )

Subject: Re: music listening styles
From:    Bruno Repp  <repp@xxxxxxxx>
Date:    Tue, 1 Apr 2008 17:53:25 -0400

Dear all: 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. --Bruno 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. > > Pierre > > > On 4/1/08 10:56 AM, "Dr. Harriet Jacobster" <hjacobster@xxxxxxxx> 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 > > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ > Harriet B. Jacobster, Au.D. > Board Certified Doctor of Audiology > Lyric Audiology, pllc > "Bringing Words and Music to Your Ears" > hearingarts@xxxxxxxx > > Christian Kaernbach wrote: > > Hi, > > 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... > > Best, > Chris > > > > > > -- > -- Bruno H. Repp Haskins Laboratories 300 George Street New Haven, CT 06511-6624 Tel. (203) 865-6163, ext. 236 Fax (203) 865-8963

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