Perfect Songs

There are certain songs that move us into a realm beyond mere (passive) listening. For me, certain songs consistently take me there, and I literally have to put everything down in order to experience the song because otherwise I’d be too distracted to fully enjoy it. There is something unusual about the lyrics, the melody, the sentiment – something totally unique and beautiful that makes it special even amongst some of the best songs. This is a project I have thought about carrying out for some time now, and I plan to describe some of these here.

I think that there are at least three realms of listening. One could certainly define more than three, but I think that these are general enough to start:

  1. Passive listening: In this realm, music is truly just in the background. We are not engaging with the sounds in any capacity because we are engaged in some other endeavor. For example, we could be at a bar and the music is just to fill space and could actually be a distraction to what are otherwise doing.
  2. Ambient listening: The music is surrounding us and we are more actively listening, although we may be doing other things, but these are things that are quiet enough for us to hear the music. We consider elements of the music and the sounds inspire new thoughts and contemplations. The music takes us to a certain intellectual plane and a inspires emotional states. We are nevertheless engaged in alternative tasks.
  3. Engaged listening: In this realm, we are engaged in nothing except actively listening to the music. There may, however, be a visual component as well, for example we are watching a band play or watching a video. We could also be engaged kinetically, for example we are dancing. But there is no other auditory stimulation other than the music. We are being challenged in a number of sensory experiences, and our thoughts and emotions are being actively influenced by the music.

The songs that I would put into the category of “perfect songs” are typically in the engaged listening realm, although some are also useful for ambient listening as well. I think that ambient listening is very important as a tool – I listen to certain music to help me carry out certain tasks. There are other kinds of listening that takes place in between passive, ambient, and engaged listening, but for me the important consideration for thinking about music is how that music effects you in ways (sensorial, intellectually, emotionally, etc.) that are beyond merely auditory.

I wanted to sort these thoughts out for myself before consulting other sources and their definition, professional or otherwise, for different modes of listening. I think that theories about human conversation and communication generally are useful to consider as well. Music is also communication, yes? They are listed here:

~ by atomlattice on June 29, 2012.

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