Are You Really Listening?

If you asked, I would say that I listen to a lot of music. But the truth is, most of the time I’m just hearing it. Much of my day is spent with music in the background while I’m working, driving, or just hanging out, a constant stream of aural inputs while I focus on the tasks at hand. Occasionally I will hear something that completely grabs my attention; suddenly my focus moves into the music, and I find that I am truly listening to it. I know that this is where the magic is, there’s nothing like it. When I’m actively listening to music, I can feel all reasons why I’m in love with it: it’s like coming home and transcending all at once. There is nothing in the world like putting on some headphones and closing my eyes, letting everything else fade away while my mind focuses solely on the intricate sounds of beautiful, deep, meaningful electronic music. But I don’t do this nearly enough.

Although we may hear a lot of music throughout the day, its ability to make an impact on our lives is connected to the time we take to really listen. I think that one of the reasons why electronic music connects so deeply to the lives of those who love it, is that intense listening comes naturally. To create an effective track, one that people can relate to and remember, requires the producer to be deeply entrenched in their music, with an intense focus on each individual piece as well as the combination of the elements and the greater picture it forms. As a DJ, active listening is vital to the success of a set. You have to listen to know how a track feels emotionally, how it connects, and how to use that to direct the mood of the room. Grabbing the attention of the crowd on the dance floor requires the ability to understand and control the energy that is within each track, and you can only do so if you listen.

The dance floor is an excellent example of how this all comes together for the audience, as well as evidence of the detriment of distraction, as it can take away from the magic and meaning of the music. When our lives are so filled with distractions, from the desire to continuously connect to our phones, to our own constant mental chatter about ourselves and others, the hypnotizing and transcendent experiences of electronic music can easily get lost in the mix. No matter how loud and encompassing the music is, it seems that there will always be people who are consumed more with their phones, and with their image, than in actually enjoying themselves. I admit, there are times when I have to remind myself to stop thinking about something else, to forget about trying to take a cool photo, and to just close my eyes and really feel what’s happening.

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