One side effect of technology is a shortened attention span. Think about it: how long does it take you to hit the “skip” button when a song you don’t want to hear comes on? And I get it. Life is too short to listen to bad music–and there’s so much music out there.
In the old analogue days, it was often too much trouble to walk across the room to skip over an unwanted song on a vinyl album. Even in the days of the CD, we’d often listen through a song because we didn’t know where the remote was. We ended up listening to entire albums (or at least album sides) and sometimes–not always–this enforced listening revealed much about what the artist was trying to say with the music. We learned to listen instead of consuming songs like so many Doritos.
Have we lost the art of listening to music? You gotta wonder. This is from The Guardian.
“I’m going to turn some lights off now – enjoy your session.”
Jean-Philippe Ducharne, an organiser of Classic Album Sundays, is speaking to a room of strangers in a Sydney bar, poised to hear Lauryn Hill’s 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In full, on vinyl, no chatter.
People recline on pillows and slouch on couches, but still, you can feel it. The collective uncertainty. An edge of entrapment. The album is 70 minutes long. What are the rules again, exactly? “Think of it like a movie,” says co-organiser Jim Poe.
This is the Sydney chapter’s fifth listening session, although the now-global event has been running for six years in London. It was founded by New Yorker Colleen Murphy who “wanted people to hear music … contextually, communally, uninterrupted and in the best sonic detail possible”. In London, listening cafes are popping up left and right. Londoners, I suspect, are better at the uninhibited embrace of such concepts than antipodeans quick to wince at any whiff of wankery.