Is “Dedicated Listening” becoming a lost art?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Khorn, Aug 3, 2022.

  1. CrimsonFan

    CrimsonFan Forum Resident

    Audiophile snobbery be damned!
    I think the OP means focussing on the music to the exclusion of all else.
    He may have a point describing it as an art given that some folk have the attention span of a gnat! :D :D

    Only by doing this does one fully appreciate the performance. Anything less than 100% attention is an insult to the performer/s.

    When we attend classical concerts for example we are not simultaneously reading a book or installing a carburettor.
    In fact it is considered rudeness by the conductor if you so much as cough at an inopportune time or applaud before he considers the work “finished” (!)

    Cerebrally, if you are performing other activities it means that music appreciation gets less “core time”, to paraphrase the IT department… :)
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  2. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    I don't think Khorn is being a snob-- when I was coming up in this hobby, we had great fun at someone's house with a good system, a pile of records (sometimes tape) and a sort of "let's listen to these today." The listening would go on for an album side or two; maybe a break, then more listening. It was a chance to hear more on a different system, somebody might have been trialing a new piece of gear, or have some new record. It was also a social event and a great way to spend time. I did a lot of that in the '70s.
    When I moved to NY in '81, I eventually hooked up with the NY audiophile groups- and one member in particular- a friend- took me under his wing. We'd spend 10 hours hanging, listening, eating, talking, more listening, how about dinner? Then Chuck would make an amazing Sicilian meal from scratch. My wife and his wife were friends and they did their own thing. No audio widow issues.
    I miss those days.
    I typically listen alone- which is also good. I don't have to worry about how the guests are getting along and play host. Sometimes, when I do have the occasional visitor, they will be riveted- "oh man, if I had all this stuff, I'd never leave home!"
    But, a sort of fatigue sets in for me, and it isn't any harshness of the system-- I just get a little squirrely after say, 4 hours. I guess I could take a break and come back, but I usually shut it all down.
    So true. I think one of my personal "peaks" of engagement was when I was in my teens, in high school, all I did was play. Used the practice rooms; played at home; played gigs with bands. I could just spend hours noodling. I've lost that somehow and don't think I'll get it back. I do have instruments here, but I think I was somehow hearing my muse as a kid; now it's work and that isn't what it's about, for me, anyway. Though if other peeps are playing, it gets my juices going again, and I can hear my lines again.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2022
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  3. NYC-Blotto

    NYC-Blotto Forum Resident

    Seems these days most people (especially younger people) have lost the ability to simply be still and not have several distractions going on at once. It's a shame. Hell, they can't even leave the damn cellphone alone much less sit still and enjoy something on it's own merit. Meditation and learning how to simply 'be' is a wonderful thing but most people can't or won't do it these days. Seems everything is about gadgets and the dependence on them not sitting down to enjoy music on it's own merit. Even people obsessing about their stereo gear where they can't focus on the music.
  4. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Obversarian Thread Starter

    If people really get off on listening I’m proud to do it. It does prove satisfying in many ways.
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  5. attym

    attym Forum Resident

    When my friend and I visit each other, we usually do it with the focus on “dedicated listening”. We call it music night, record night, swap cables and tubes and fine tune the stereo night… it’s something we both look very forward to. I understand what you mean about dedicated listening.
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  6. Mark Shred

    Mark Shred Fiery the angels fell..........


    What the hell is wrong wth people. From the moment I got my own turntable as a child, I've sat and listened to music. Every time I listen to my own music, it's dedicated ! In fact, it's simply listening to music.
    Even when I didn't have a 10k set up, I still sat and listened to music.
    People spent time making music, so I make time to listen.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2022
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  7. Prighello

    Prighello Forum Resident

    Totally get it, some day I hope to be there as well...retired that is. :) For most of our life together, the wife and I have always had a system in the living room rather than a TV. Listening to music has been a primary past time for us and we do so every day. I'm lucky to have a spouse who loves music and this is supportive of the hobby.

    That said, there is a limited amount of free time for two working folks to dedicate to listening to music under your definition. If the hobby was the sole domain of persons with copious amounts of free time, I think it'd be a emptier place. I guess what I'm trying to get at is dedicated listening might not be lost but rather downsized as busier lives lead to less free time. Then again, I heard something like only 10% of the population get's their kicks from music so perhaps it has always been a small pool.
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  8. doctor fuse

    doctor fuse Forum Resident

    We have to remember that we generally listen to ‘the best of’ olden music, culled over half a century or more, and music created today still has to be assessed over the long term to know what ‘the good stuff’ is. 60 year old popcorn hits like Downtown are overwhelmingly seen as superficial today.
    kyouki, jfeldt and Khorn like this.
  9. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Obversarian Thread Starter

    It’s not an “all the time” pastime. For instance I’m dedicating my time right at the moment watching the Blue Jays tryin to win!
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  10. DPC

    DPC Forum Resident

    ...and here I am currently listening to the Rays tryin' to win!

    Actually, I have been in the routine of mainly "dedicated" listening ~ 2hrs / day since retirement a couple months ago.
    Generally vinyl first, then digital to finish things off and surf a little.
    (not to have a vinyl vs. digital comp, but I do focus more on vinyl and play entire albums (or sides) more than digital)
    mreeter and Khorn like this.
  11. bever70

    bever70 To boldly go where no ears have gone before

    If you don't do any dedicated or critical listening, how are you gonna make your system better?! Getting better at being an audiophile takes a lot of learning, dedicated listening, developing your listening skills etc. At least that's what I found out the last 5 years. Thinking your system sounds excellent without doing any dedicated listening is like thinking you can drive your car to the limit on a circuit without having any track experience.
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  12. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    It’s quite funny actually how much things can differ between audiences in terms of behavior - even of those that are actively/focused listening (not the festival party people).
    Because when a Jazz quartet plays, clapping after a skillful solo part in the middle of a piece is a gesture of appreciation.
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  13. Gramps Tom

    Gramps Tom Forum Resident

    That started last century, maybe when portable transistor radios began to be manufactured. Then walkmans with headphones morphed to mp3 players, then, Ipods and so on. The culture started to move so much faster during that timeframe that listening during commutes in the car or on the public transit systems (which became a tool for isolation necessary for concentration), necessitated multitasking to accomplish your daily work/study duties. Also bombarded with music in the supermarkets, restaurants, banks, dept. stores made hearing music so..... ORDINARY.

    Ever since I became exposed to truly conscious music appreciation at age 6, I have truly listened purposefully without distraction for thousands of hours. BUT, in reality the majority of my listening time, I play music while engaging in other activities such as reading, meditating, paying bills, doing home projects, posting on SHF, and others.

    I truly believe dan c mistook your use of the term 'art'. I took it as 'dedicated activity'.

    AMEN! It seems the added speed and complexity of life has 'forced' many people there. Those forces seemingly in general have caused a reduced attention span and ability to concentrate and discern material - written, music, and video - in its entirety. NOT simply a 3 word text msg, but to absorb a 200 page book or essential short stories and poetry - NOT simply a 2-minute song or snippet, but to absorb a 5 minute popular song or 15 minute BACH Concerto - NOT simply a 4 minute Youtube video, but to absorb an historically essential educational depiction of a real event shaping us and / or essential film.

    All these makes us who we are, and place us in various stages of our lives - what we were doing, where we were when we heard or bought certain media. At least for me, those are the benchmarks upon which I mark and measure my life.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2022
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  14. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    The vast majority of my listening is what you'd call dedicated listening, though I call it critical listening.

    I can sit in my chair for hours at a time without moving my head more than a few inches in any direction. Sometimes I'll move slightly forward to get a slightly different perspective but I always strive to be equidistant from the speakers.

    Funny things is that when people come over and see me in action they think I'm dead since I don't move or do anything other than listen to the music.

    I also do this quite a bit in my vehicles. I have all my music there pretty much the same as at home and I love taking long trips where I can listen to my hearts content. The music systems in my vehicles are quite good though quite different than my main rig.
  15. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Obversarian Thread Starter

    “Formality” of situation. I would think someone performing in an orchestral setting are satisfied considering themselves as “part of the whole”. I suppose they would appreciate recognition for a great solo part. Maybe a pro orchestral musician could elaborate.
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  16. steveharris

    steveharris Senior Member

    Somebody has to invent a turntable for cars.Perfected to float as to prevent skipping!
    Khorn likes this.
  17. hman

    hman Forum Resident

    Northport, NY
    What were you asking? I was busy multi-tasking.
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  18. Frank Bisby

    Frank Bisby Forum Resident

    From my experience it’s very uncommon for anyone to sit down and listen to an album as a form of entertainment. People I work with, family and just about any group You can think you won’t find many people that own a component stereo system. Something you would want or need to sit down in front of and pay attention to. At most people have a sound bar under a TV, a BT powered speaker, a car stereo or ear buds. We tend to be friends with people that have common interest so I do know people with nice stereos but it’s really not very common. I would say the vast majority of music is consumed as a background activity or while doing a task of some sort. And I think it’s been that way for a very long time now.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2022
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  19. Gramps Tom

    Gramps Tom Forum Resident

  20. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    Yes perhaps there’s partially a “survival bias” indeed.
    But if I listen to certain songs or albums from the past… they’re almost like a play, like a rockopera… those are the kind of things that would never be accepted by the mainstream if it were released in the present.
    Same for more complex melodies and chords.
    There’s music released nowadays that has these things, but it’ll never really become as mainstream as it was way back in the 60s/70s/80s.

    The “pop” genre has become much more a genre of its own, with its own format, its own “rules”, its own framework it has to fit in and preconceptions of how a pop song “should be like”, aside from meaning just “popular music”.
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  21. steveharris

    steveharris Senior Member

    True for me.Listening has to fit between other things happening around me.I’ll be watching sports on tv with the sound off or doing some artwork.
    Khorn likes this.
  22. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Obversarian Thread Starter

    I have no clue why but I think I know this photo. Maybe I’m goin off the deep end.
  23. AudioAddict

    AudioAddict Forum Resident

    Some of us that played in orchestras and also performed concertos consider applause a necessary evil. Musicians operating at this level know exactly how well they played and do not need confirmation or, worse, denial.
    Musicians operating in the realm of improvisation are in a different category. They benefit tremendously from knowing what ideas they tried worked and which did not. Put the jazz crowd here.
    To return to the premise, much popular music today is "simple." It doesn't rely on formal relationships or complicated interplay between harmony, rhythm, melody and texture. This media source will not support a great deal of dedicated listening. You will be bored to tears after 3 minutes.
  24. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    Yes perhaps you’re right and it’s just a difference in etiquettes.
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  25. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor.

    Exactly this.
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