THE ART OF LISTENING

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By Jace Excell

 
 

First clear your schedule – you’re going to need some time. Not the entire day, perhaps just an hour or so, depending on how long the album is. Let’s use Queen’s A Night at the Opera as an example. At only 43 minutes and 10 seconds long, each song works separately as a stand-alone track yet the real magic of the work can only be gleaned by listening to the entire album in one sitting.

 

I remember the first time I listened to A Night at the Opera. Incidentally it was also the first album I listened to in its entirety. I was 15 years old and washing the dishes after dinner. I got so wrapped up in the world of the album that it took me until the end to finish washing the dishes.

 

From ‘Death on Two Legs’ through to Brian May’s rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’, I was taken to many places. The hollow megaphone sound on Mercury’s voice in ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ (created by him singing into a bucket) helped to bolster the distance and imagery crafted by the lyrical content and the accompanying music. But perhaps I am overanalysing. Instead, I’ll focus on the simpler parts of the album-listening process: Seating, Atmosphere and Juice.

 

Take great care choosing a seat when listening to music. The following are some things to think about as you make your choice:

 

Once you have your seating and location arranged and in order the main thing left is to simply enjoy the music. Allow yourself to be swept along with the flow of the album.”

 

Depth and Sinkability

Are you looking for a seat that will absorb you and wrap you up in a soft hug while you listen? Or do you tend to go for a more rigid and firm seat? I always recommend something on the halfway point. Too soft and you might find yourself drifting to sleep. Too hard and the distraction of a stiff back can become an issue.

 

Length and Width

Perhaps you would prefer to lie down and listen or stretch yourself out like the Vitruvian man. If this seems more like your listening style then I say go for it. What better way to embrace the music than to lie in a position of openness and absorb the ambience?

 

Now that you have some idea about how you’re going to be positioned the next thing to consider is the location. I’ve simplified the choices down to two:

 

Inside or Outside

Both places have equal merit and it is entirely up to the individual. In my experience, I have found that privacy can be found both inside, alone and outside with the general bustle of the world around you.

 

The only thing I will say is that if you don’t have or like listening to music with headphones it’s best if you stay inside so as not to add to noise pollution. Keep in mind the music you love others might not.

 

Once you have your seating and location arranged and in order the main thing left is to simply enjoy the music. Allow yourself to be swept along with the flow of the album. Enjoy yourself and don’t think too much about anything. Let your thoughts meander and you’ll soon find yourself relaxing.

 

Sounds pleasant right? Well it is! It’s also inexpensive and you might even discover new things about the music and artists, hidden tracks, sometimes even yourself.

 

Oh and I’ve forgotten juice! Whether it be apple or orange or some tropical mixture with one or the other aforementioned as the basis, nothing beats a cold refreshing glass of juice.

 

Enjoy.

 
 
 

Jace Excell is a 23-year-old working musician based in Melbourne. Jace also enjoys referring to himself in the third person to protect his creative works.

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