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Sonic Perception

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  1. inournight

    Hey everyone, i've asked various individuals on their take with developing perception of sound. More specifically, I mean the ability to listen to music and absorb everything going on in any and every instance, as opposed to listening to just the soloist or one instrument. I mean, understanding even the most minute interaction between everyone playing. Being able to enjoy the bass players counterpoint and how it inflects the spirit of the soloist. Listening to the drummers melody and how it can do the same. Perhaps whomever is comping and how it is they are flying the soloist off to another planet. I believe the goal is being able to do this all at the same time. Question is, how? How can one learn to observe music far more closely? I'm curious as to what the insight from the users of this forum would be. I'm also curious as to what Kurt believes, if he does skim this post.

    Thanks Guys..

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  2. mastaneh

    Hey there,
    check out Ran Blake's new book (self published on titled: the Primacy of the Ear.

  3. I font know much about it , but u remember that there was a concept developed by Pauline oliveros which I believe involved shifting a focus of consciousness between what she called exclusive and inclusive listening .

  4. Matt

    If anyone has any reviews on that book, i'd like to hear em:)
    anyway, i find just listening to records with people helps alot; everyone notices different things. I especially get a kick out of it more than usual with my teacher because i'll hear complexities i didn't know existed.

  5. This is something you can also practice by listening to classical music. Bach's Goldberg Variations are a wonderful example of counterpoint and multiple simultaneous voices interacting with each other. I once read that Glenn Gould had this idea of doing a quadrophonic recording of them, where different voices would be recorded by different mics, and afterwards one could listen back to the music with the different parts coming from different spatial locations. I doubt that he ever did that (I believe he died soon after that interview), but this concept would definitely help to disentangle all of whats going on in a piece of music

  6. Also.. when I was younger I often had the experience of quite altered music perception after smoking a joint. I really don't want to get into an argument about marihuana, but I do believe there a way to use it without abusing it, and it certainly gave me wonderful insights about all forms of art (music, literature, photography...) that I would never have gotten without it. Cheers, lupo

  7. jbroad

    +1 for lupo's last post

  8. silverwater

    I think that's one thing that's so appealing about a trio format; It's easier to absorb all of what's going on. I'd even go so far as to say that the guitar trio is the best trio, because a pianos tend to take up a lot of space by always using both hands (I think they practice like this), and with horn trios you'll never get more than two notes at one time to spell out the changes. Guitar trios can offer just the right amount of melody and harmony. Not that I'm bias or anything. ;-)

    But this is a good subject to bring up. As I've made the transition from a non-musician to a musician, I've been noticing a lot lately that I "try" to listen now, whereas before I started to play I never tried, I always just, I don't know, listened.

    I don't know if "trying" to listen is a good thing or a bad thing overall, especially when listening to complicated music, but I do know that trying too hard at anything is a bad thing. I've been getting into this book: The Natural Classical Guitar: The Principles of Effortless playing. I bought it, but it's also available to read on Google Books here:

    This is an amazing book. It's really less about the classical guitar specifically, and more about how to mentally approach playing music and the guitar (any kind of guitar), and how to get the most out of the least effort (which is great for someone like me who has weak hands from overuse). Anyways, the author as a big advocate of what Huxley called "Dynamic Relaxation", which is basically trying without trying, or trying only as much as you need to accomplish something. Google "Huxley Dynamic Relaxation" to see how many different kinds of disciplines use this principle.

    So, I think if you really want to listen to everything that's happening in a piece of music, you have to develop a way of doing so straining your mind and your ears. You have to just direct your attention to the music, instead of forcing yourself to listen.

  9. JorgeRubiales

    That one is a nice book silverwater. I've already read it some years ago, and I have to say that this kind of think works kind of subconsciously. Reading it again now I've discovered that I'm aplying unconsciously many of the principles stated in that book. And I have to admit that, when I find myself "in that zone", everything comes out great, and the music flows by itself.

    The best "practice" for me is in the combo class. There, even with 2 or 3 guitar players and a bass player, I can focus on hearing the context, and respond accordingly, whether I'm playing melody or comping. I can't hear and understand everything, but it's nice when you're noticing every individual instrument at once, while being able to play coherently and find your spot in the music.

  10. mastaneh

    Silverwater wrote:"Dynamic Relaxation", which is basically trying without trying, or trying only as much as you need to accomplish something. Google "Huxley Dynamic Relaxation" to see how many different kinds of disciplines use this principle.

    Huxley was a student of FM Alexander who thought lessons in re-education of the self, now know as Alexander Technique.

    It may be worth doing a bit of research in basic neurology for the sake of understanding the total interconnectedness of living organisms and how our perception senses overlap in the brain...(and all of nature for that matter, and sound is a natural phenomenon).

    I find that if there is un needed tension or holding in my neck this can really dull out my eyes and ears a bit....


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