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Listening

Listening
May 27, 2007, 02:51:46 AM
I was really happy when i once saw a thread on this board about listening.  I think it was titled "How do you listen to metal?"  Id dig it back up if i werent a lazy bastard, but ive always thought it was interesting to sit beside other people who call themselves metal fans while listening to Asphx, Atheist, Gorgoroth, and other bands that people say are"love it or hate it music."  You really begin to understand that the sound your hearing when you listen to your favorite extreme metal is being processed in a radically different manner in the mind of the person sitting beside you.  
I only know one person who can sit through an entire Asphyx song, but it seems like every other so-called metal fan doesn't have the attention span to listen to songs from start to finish...even by their favorite bands!!  My other friends who listen to black metal, grind, and death have a tendency to switch the track in the middle of a song, right after they've had their "fix" so to speak.  Others just listen for two or three months and just immediately drop it for something else.  

Why is that i have listened to Suffocation's Pierced from Within or Atheist's Unquestionable Presence for nearly 6 years and they've NEVER GROWN DULL.  Sure, some days i've been in the mood to hear other stuff, but these albums including many others haven't left my cd case in almost a decade.  Theres no mystery about it to me:  its egoistic listening of the masses.  

A large number of so-called metal fans and the general public can not understand metal because they can't get past their own egos to allow the music to take them somewhere.  The general population/imposter metal fans either listen to metal as background noise while playing d&d or surfing myspace, or have a tendency to decide whether or not a band is good after the first 30 seconds of a song.  You'd be hard pressed to find an average person who, upon a first listen of Deicide's Legion, LISTENS to the entire song and does not allow his/her attention to wander from the music to something else (usually meaningless things like a girl with fake tits passing by or a brand new novelty item they'd love to purchase).  Where so-called metal fans are concerned, this is always a good indication of who is a poser and who is a genuine fan (maybe i've said this before).  These metal fans will be gone when puberty ends.  

When i listen to music, i offer myself to it:  i do nothing else, expect nothing, and let the music guide my mind however it may.  If i am doing some simple task, i dont consider it Listening until i can give my full attention to the music.  Metal becomes a part of you when you learn to do this..

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 03:14:59 AM
I don't get this with all music i listen, punk for an example does not try and take you on a journey (at least the same way Bach does). Certain music takes you away from yourself like suffocation (because it creates ambiance just not the traditional ambiance) and all romantic composers but this does not mean music is bad if it does not do this.

I personally like Bach's music most when i have read the score and can play the main melodic themes because this allows me to see his genius and gives me a greater awareness of his music. I like to do this to all classical composer and this is when i enjoy music the most.  

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 01:40:46 PM
I once played this song to this girl, and it literally had a 10 second intro. She took it off before the 10 seconds finished because she didnt' like songs with intros. She couldn't listen for 10 fucking seconds! It's amazing how reliant people are on hooks and choruses to enjoy music. They get bored because it's not 'exciting', but then they listen to songs which just repeat a few words over and over and the same few notes over and over. It makes no sense to me how they can do this. I can't figure out what is going through their heads.

Iconoclast

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 01:48:24 PM
It's like society as a whole: they want immediate gratification.  Metal songs generally take time and repeated listens to fully "get," whereas rock, rap, and country can be understood on the first listen.

Notice that classical, and industrial/electronic music as well to a lesser extent, are often neglected in the public sphere.  They're also usually less repetitive.

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 02:50:32 PM
It's a symptom of listenning to music on the ipod. Now people can carry their entire music collection around with them it encourages them to switch from song to song not really paying attention.

Raise_the_Dead

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 03:44:42 PM
I think this is due to people wanting to be 'in the know,' in order to impress their scenester friends.  

"You're not as cool as me if you can't name 10 blackened thrash bands from Sri Lanka off the top of your head"

They will try to absorb as much music as possible in the shortest time possible... but that's like trying to read Tao te Ching as if it were a novel.

I admit I was probably the same way when I was 16 or so, but I've learned since then.  The best things in life take time.

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 06:38:33 PM
Yeah, i do agree that the ipods have definitely contributed a lot to the whole quantitative view of music that is quite rampant; the notion that songs are just like counters and that it is better to have a folder stocked with 3000 crappy songs, chosen for "variety/diversity" -  much like an affirmative action quota - than it is to have a few great albums of substance an musical and artistic depth.

When I think of the act of listening to metal, particularly listening to something that is outside of my grounds of familiarity, i think of it as being exposed to new modes of thinking. Gorguts, Deicide, and Demilich are all death metal bands in that they share certain qualities and ideas, but the logic behind each bands' music varies geatly from band to band, as reflected in the major differences in composition and statement.

Going into the listening experience, one must often suspend his musical expectations and just become totally immersed in the (listening/thinking) experience, much the same way as one trying to learn a new language would.  

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 08:40:52 PM
Quote
Going into the listening experience, one must often suspend his musical expectations and just become totally immersed in the (listening/thinking) experience, much the same way as one trying to learn a new language would.  



Exactly.  Its also important to do this with upcoming music.  Its hard not to let all the terrible music out there ruin every album of this millenium, but its still important to give everything a good, long listen and then decide whether or not its shit.  
Yes, ipods are another problem.  The problems all stem from the consumer culture of industrial societies and listening is to me one way of resisting its emptiness.   Its also a problem with the fact that metal is now distinguished subculture:  dress metal, talk metal, play metal, etc.  Theres a certain sick code of ethics among these superficial fans of metal, who no longer know how to listen.  The biggest reason, imo, for metal's stagnation is due to the repressive nature of what it means to be a "metalhead" and whats makes something "metal."  You can define it however you like, but the essence of metal belongs to a part of the human will that can not be restrained or defined by what t-shirts a person wears, how many cds one has, how long one's hair is, etc.  These imposter metal fans have always seemed to exhibit this same behavior of the consumerist masses through their inability to look past the shocking or purely social elements of metal.  Egotistical listening:  

"where are the blast beats?"

"their band photos aren't cool.."

"its just noise...nothing else (no hooks arguement)"



....it goes on and on.  

Re: Listening
May 27, 2007, 11:07:32 PM
You hit the nail right on the fucking head, mon ami. Phony metal fans listen to phony metal "artists"
A phony band patronized by typical poser metal heads would have the following characteristics:
1. More posings in magazines and album lay-outs than a Playboy Playmate.
2. The tough guy bullshit, as if much macho posturing would add substance to an otherwise crappy performance.
3. Saying shit like "I tune down to G sharp, dude"
...
shit like this truly get on my nerves.

Re: Listening
May 28, 2007, 02:33:58 AM
Quote
Notice that classical, and industrial/electronic music as well to a lesser extent, are often neglected in the public sphere.  They're also usually less repetitive..


Industrial/electronic has to among the most repetitive music.

Re: Listening
May 28, 2007, 02:54:09 AM
Quote
It's like society as a whole: they want immediate gratification.  Metal songs generally take time and repeated listens to fully "get," whereas rock, rap, and country can be understood on the first listen.


But what is the argument that metal is somehow better than the other genres just because it takes longer to "get"?

Re: Listening
May 28, 2007, 03:02:35 AM
The problem of zap-listening is not about modern youth or their ipod culture, i'm afraid. 90% of people just don't l.i.s.t.e.n. to music. Can't listen. I know lots of old people, and they unanymously don't care unless it's Katie pissing Melua. Unless it's wallpaper. Non-confronting and uncomplicated in any way. My grandmother is all lyrical about Edvard Grieg, but can't sit down and listen to 'Morgenstimmung' integrally (3 min if i'm correct).

More misery:

'When do they start singing?'

'They're conservatory educated musicians, so ...'


The 'their band photos aren't cool' argument is not to be dismissed right away though. Artwork obviously tells about taste, style and class of the person(s) behind a musical project. It will definately correspond to the music in one way or another. I won't buy albums featuring crappy kitsch artwork.

Re: Listening
May 28, 2007, 04:17:57 AM
Totally agree on that. The album covers on some satanist death metal albums are truly inspired works of art. While the artwork of some poser goregrind acts are probably some of the worst shit ever made. Only the most decadent meta head would patronize these disasters in bad taste.

Re: Listening
May 28, 2007, 04:51:09 AM
Quote
The problem of zap-listening is not about modern youth or their ipod culture, i'm afraid. 90% of people just don't l.i.s.t.e.n. to music. Can't listen. I know lots of old people, and they unanymously don't care unless it's Katie pissing Melua. Unless it's wallpaper. Non-confronting and uncomplicated in any way. My grandmother is all lyrical about Edvard Grieg, but can't sit down and listen to 'Morgenstimmung' integrally (3 min if i'm correct).

More misery:

'When do they start singing?'

'They're conservatory educated musicians, so ...'


The 'their band photos aren't cool' argument is not to be dismissed right away though. Artwork obviously tells about taste, style and class of the person(s) behind a musical project. It will definately correspond to the music in one way or another. I won't buy albums featuring crappy kitsch artwork.



I mainly look at cultural elements when trying to explain mass problems.  I don't think we know enough about the human mind to say exactly why certain people don't listen or what the exact reason for this "mass short attention span" is.  You can say its biological, cultural, learned....whatever you want.  But you can not ignore the role that popular/consumer culture plays in the listening patterns of most individuals.  It comes down to marketing schemes and the motives of the so-called artist:  is it just one big pretense or is there something genuine going on in the music?  

Thats when the problem of the whole "metal style" or "metalhead" comes into play.  Its quite easy to fool certain people into thinking that the music is awesome when its really shit if the band creates a certain hype about themselves.  You see this a lot in the hatecore/nsbm scene.  I'll be the first to admit that a lot of great music has come from ns bands, but the other 88% is accepted simply due to the politics of the members themselves(durrr).  Being true to one's worldview is fine, but writing music that truly reflects it is another thing altogether.  Something that unfortunately doesn't happen very often in this or any current scene in metal.  

Re: Listening
May 28, 2007, 05:24:06 AM
Quote

But what is the argument that metal is somehow better than the other genres just because it takes longer to "get"?


Think about it.  The amount of time it takes to "get" a pop song is about, say maybe 20 seconds.  There is no experience; only statement and its usually meaningless, self-absorbed rantings about love lost, false empowerment, or other stupid themes that are dumbed down so that the general public will understand.  Within the amount of time it takes for a piece of underground metal art to reveal itself, you have the opportunity for not just a simple statement.  You get an experience and you get a real affirmation for whatever it is the music may communicate.  I don't see how popular music can in any way transmit as much information in one song compared to any good underground metal band.  Popular music is decoration with some stupid statement put atop it.  Metal songs work in such a way that if they're understood through genuine listening, they'll equate to a mental/spiritual journey with the reward that only real art can offer.