How do you listen to Music ? Are you more of a smartphone addict, earbuds stuck to your ears as a shield against aggressivity of the outside world? Or King of the Castle wood and silk room and mounted hi-fi speakers ?
Weather you do own a listening room or not, it also depends on a second question : do you HAVE time to listen to music properly? Or is this selfish pleasure reserved to an aristocratic minority of rich audiophiles? Truth is, between the family time, exercising, yoga, coffee, reunion, Netflix, pressure from work and other types of modern life sucking activities, we barely can take the time to be with ourselves only for a few minutes a day, if not seconds.
As a Music producer, let's make it simple : you MUST do it. It is an essential need to be met. I myself have to sit down with whatever sound translating object, and let it speak to my ears and brain. You have to train your ear. And i'm not talking here about putting on some sort of DJ mix while you clean up your place or have friends around for a saturday night session. I'm talking about being alone with yourself and the music. All alone, to analyze a piece of music.
Like some sort of meditation, which Mike Monday explained really well in one of those extra resources he shared during the session of The Leap to which I participated last year.
Focus is the key (shut up, I hear your "OH REALLY???"). But focus on what? The Music? If it's your music you're listening to, chances are you'll hear more details fucking with your mind than actual music. Therefore our automatic friend "The Breath" can act as a guide for that. A guide to focus, for blindfolded music lovers in a quest for truth within the sound.
I used to have one of these sessions a week right before I left Nice, listening to Classical and African music mostly. Sitting besides the music. Taking a few minutes to come back to what Mike calls "a direct experience", coming back to the moment, the Now as Mindfulness practitioners could say.
In this particular practice of Meditation, we try to integrate all sounds and feelings to the experience. And that's where magic happens : when you consciously let go (hence accept) everything that invades your brain in your everyday life, Music can become the greatest teacher you could ever find.
One song a week can be a good start, although I wish to aim for one song a day. Can be makeable if you don't chose a song from Ricardo Villalobos.
Brian Eno said in an interview that to become a good musician, you have to become a good listener. And as it is (for me at least) way harder to listen to your own stuff then it is to listen to others, better start climbing the ladder of listening whenever you can if you wanna either improve your music skills, or even understand the extention of the language that is being spoken to you.
Ask questions to the music. How many instruments? What are the variations? What's the relationship between the drums and the piano? How do I feel when I listen to this (don't do that with Britney Spears kids) ?
Invent your own questions, be the first explorer of that unknown territory, listen to stuff you wouldn't wanna put on regularly, expand your universe.
For those reasons, I decided to dedicate this post to music music that is worth being properly LISTENED to, Alone if possible to avoid possible verbal communication (except maybe a well deserved and expressive "PUUUTAIN") that would deteriorate your experience, and make you lose purpose.
So take whatever it is you have, earbuds, headphones, high quality speakers, close your eyes and be with your breath, and before all that : press play.
(if you need more about mindfulness gimme a shout down here on the comment section, I'll be happy to share my exercises and tips about it all)