2 Oct 2013


I like my music. I listen to it every minute I possibly can, I follow the activity of my favourite musicians and watch them live, I buy their records. And I care too – I've invested in pretty darn good speakers for home and a couple of headphones for elsewhere, because I want to experience it in the best possible way. Sure I listen to it whilst working, but that's not to say I don't make time to just sit and listen either. And that's what I want to discuss right now.

Listening with our full attention. Really appreciating the work, because let's face it, artists spend their time and effort in making the perfect record, taking considerations for every detail and producing something they are proud of. They certainly don't do that so that we can play it a couple times on a YouTube rip through sub-sub-standard PC speaker output, whilst simultaneously talking on the phone and cooking dinner. From a designer's perspective, we meticulously plan and execute work (because that's the designer's job) and we know it would absolutely pain us to see people treat it without full respect. So why is it the norm for us to treat music always as a secondary priority for our attention?

Before I go further, I would like to make clear what I mean when I say music. Without doubt, it's an industry that involves heavy business influences whereby it makes money, as with most if not all other industries. And there are artists who make music to make money (and there's nothing wrong with that at all). But it's important to acknowledge that there are also artists who make music because that's what they value most and feel passionate to achieve, and there are many of them. I distinguish that as two different forms: entertainment and music. Someone like Rihanna sits in a meeting with writers who each bring with them proposals for lyrics and she picks one she likes. Then in another meeting she is played melody demos and again chooses one she likes. Producers put the selected couple together and make a song, Rihanna goes into the studio and records the vocal part, then it's sent off again to be mixed, mastered and ultimately finished for public release. And I have nothing against this, because her number one selling point is not her musical craft, but the quality of her voice and perhaps more importantly her undeniably incredible skill to perform. This is "entertainment" and this is irrelevant to my case today. I'm talking about those who release their own music, those who are selling their music and put everything into the music. Just like how we put together design projects.

For them, it surely can't be enough for me to play the chorus on my phone and then be a 'fan'. Whilst it's definitely important to be attractive at a superficial level, there is no doubt that there is so much more to it. So much more that we couldn't possibly appreciate if we didn't try to. I want "listening clubs" to be a thing, a dedicated occasion for focussing 100% of our energy into hearing the sounds and really experiencing the work, to give ourselves the opportunity to delve deep into the material and indeed the musicians themselves, and feel genuine response to it. It's the least that it deserves. As a designer, I care about questioning why any creative decision was made, why this was chosen over that, why it's done in this way. We don't just sell our skills (the ability to use Creative Suite), the main value of a designer in my opinion is our ability to decide what's good and proper, the ability to see how to best use our skills. Perhaps this is similar with musicians: it's not just the talent of playing an instrument very well or having a lovely voice, but their best asset is to know how to effectively combine these skills to complete a holistic art. Just because you can use Photoshop, that doesn't make you a designer. Similarly, just because you can sing, that doesn't make you a musician.

So that's why we should learn to better appreciate the goodness of music (or at least the attempt for goodness) by doing our part as the listener with maximum desire and responsibility. That's what the artists would have wanted and I believe that's our obligation as the recipient.

> Find out what I like listening to on tlee. Black.

No comments:

Post a Comment