2016, haven’t you taken enough from us for one year now?
Here is a clip of this brilliant composer and experimental sound artist speaking about the difference between hearing and listening last year:
“In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place. We cannot turn off our ears–the ears are always taking in sound information–but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening, is how you develop a culture, and how a community of people listens, is what creates their culture.”
Please play this over the last few bars of the Bargeld below. (That’s how I would play it for you if I were playing it for you.)
The third track from Ayler’s Spiritual Unity (1964).
The critic Ekkehard Jost wrote that “Ayler’s negation of fixed pitches finds a counterpart in Peacock’s and Murray’s negation of the beat. In no group of this time is so little heard of a steady beat […] The absolute rhythmic freedom frequently leads to action on three independent rhythmic planes.” Maintaining these qualities required deep group interaction, Ayler himself said of the record, “We weren’t playing, we were listening to each other”*.
*from: Wilmer, Valerie (1977). As Serious As Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz. London: Quartet. p. 105.
This is so often a problem, as I see it: that white people, particularly men, tend not to seek to understand other points of view before feeling entitled to give theirs. If listening feels hard, maybe you need to do it more.
“Is it wrong, wanting to be at home with your record collection? It’s not like collecting records is like collecting stamps, or beermats, or antique thimbles. There’s a whole world in here, a nicer, dirtier, more violent, more peaceful, more colourful, sleazier, more dangerous, more loving world than the world I live in; there is history, and geography, and poetry, and countless other things I should have studied at school, including music.”
“Kuulumia is an archaic Finnish word that refers to the aural quality of a landscape. Kuuluma denotes how a space, a clearing, or a site sounds. We have reintroduced this old expression because we feel that the term ‘soundscape’ is slightly problematic. The notion of “soundscape” has a tendency to objectify sonic landscapes and often seems to overlook the listener.”
— Tuike and Simo Alitalo
Read more about the pair’s acoustemological explorations HERE.
In this fascinating TED talk, virtuoso deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie demonstrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.
According to Wikipedia, Glennie has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12, having started to lose her hearing from the age of 8. This does not inhibit her ability to perform at an international level. She regularly plays barefoot during both live performances and studio recordings in order to feel the music better.
Glennie contends that deafness is largely misunderstood by the public. She claims to have taught herself to hear “sound colours” with parts of her body other than her ears. In response to criticism from the media, Glennie published Hearing Essay in 1993, in which she discussed her condition. Read it HERE.
“When I was fourteen, I discovered the sound of iniquity on a long-playing record for the blind from the Library of Congress. I listened to Paradise Lost, and sometimes after hours of playing the story of Satan I’d walk to the driveway’s edge and feel the elaborate work of sunlight and wind and imagine, the way only a teenager can, the falling of Satan in a blackness so pure you could feel it in the bones of your face… I’d discovered the gift of Milton: the soul’s path is in the ear – not the mirror.”
~ Stephen Kuusisto, from Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening (W. W. Norton & Company, 2006)