Slow Listening Revisited

I like a lot of music, and that means I like a lot of easy music. By that I mean: music that is a pleasure to hear, that requires no preparation on my part. Maybe it’s something to dance to, something that energizes or mellows a gathering, something that just distracts. I have no problem with this kind of music, in all possible genres. This music always has a great deal of craft behind it – what sounds simple rarely is. But it doesn’t require a huge investment of me. It might welcome and reward my energy if I gave it, but it’s not required.

The point of Slow Listening is that there are musics in this world that ask more of us. They have beauty up front, but if the listener invests time and energy to hearing them again, to asking questions, to minimizing distraction, there are huge rewards to be gained. Ears can be stretched. Deep emotions can be reached. The brain can be reordered, the way the lymph system works can change.

And I believe firmly that we, collectively, are losing our grasp on this kind of long-term project. Learning symphonies, learning to hear the tuning systems of Perotin or of classical ragas, learning languages, studying lifelong physical practices – these things become ever more remote as our culture convinces us that we don’t have time, indeed that the investment of time should be minimized, that we should focus on immediate return.

That’s what I want to get started here. Slow Listening will show up more frequently on this site, and I hope you’ll retweet and share and help me spread this idea around. And I hope you’ll comment and contribute!

For this morning, music from a giant who left us recently: Ravi Shankar. Here’s music with different tuning, different timing, different intention than everything I spend my day playing and studying. I bet that’s true for most of you too. Take some time for yourself, listen up, share the slow.


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