Active Listening


I keep wanting to call this “Deep Listening’ but really it is “Active Listening” My friend Nitzan spends an hour every day actively listening to music. This is not music as background music, like what I am doing now as I write this blog post. He was once a DJ and he used to run a record label, so there is that history that I feel is important to include.

When I first heard this I thought -wow – I need to do that. Didn’t happen. I suppose when I was flying a lot and on client sites I could have done this a bit more easily. Right now, it is difficult for me to carve out this time. Maybe an hour is too much, or maybe an hour alone is too much, or maybe an hour where I have to select all the music and some is not great is too much, or maybe and hour where all I need to do is listen is too difficult (I cannot write my thoughts!). If I wanted to reflect on music what I would do is listen to an hour of music, have my somatic experience, and then listen again and engage the conscious mind to reflect and write.

This week I listened to four renditions of Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Tárrega. This is a recording played by Segovia. It is my favorite. His tremelo is the best! the must natural that most integrated. What do I love about it: The moderate to slow pace, the variability of tempo – this gives the piece a sense of depth, accents on particular notes throughout, bass notes and even higher notes. The tremelo and bass notes all sound cohesive, Depending on where you pluck the strings the sound can have the timber of different instruments. But here it all sounds like guitar.

The Christopher Parkening example I am listening to feels like the tremelo is on a completely different instrument from the bass. At first I thought that this was a guitar piano duet, with the bass notes places on the piano! Also there is a certain mechanical feel to tremelo… it seems on a different timescale than the bass.

The John williams recordig I am listening to is very powerful. The notes sound very and it is faster than the Parkening and the Segovia.

My second favorite is Julian Bream. First I love his ending. My least favorite ending is the Parkening. The Bream recording also seems a bit faster to me and I like the variability to the tempo of the bass notes but the consistency of the tempo of the tremelo. The tremelo also is not too tinny it has a certain richness. My favorite starts of to the piece are the Segovia recording and then the Parkening. They begin on a strong base note and the slowly bring up the tremelo starting very softly and slowly becoming louder. the Bream and Williams start out of the gate with the bass and the tremelo at similar speeds and volumes.

Anyway I am not a music writer. My music education has many gaps although I am really good at site reading guitar music. It is part of my over all ability to site read – like site read ancient greek and latin. Is it really important to be able to site read or to be able to study something become great at it and do that well – not just be good in the moment when something random is thrown at you. We really cannot pick those things that are natural talents so we can just appreciate them for what they are and try and take them for what they are.

Anyway I want to do an experiment where 4-6 people get together for 90 minutes max. They each bring a piece of music under 10 minutes. We all listen and then we have brief responses. I want to try this once. If this sounds interesting to you, or something you want to participate in, leave a note, or a heart or something

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