Enjoying music

Ok – so yesterday I spent fair bit of time talking about music (funny that!) and in one of the conversations (with Sam from the TG Collective) we got onto how people listen to music live. We started by talking about how people often feel quite worried about just sitting and listening to music – the TG Collective are working at the moment with a Flamenco Dancer and as well as being great she gives the audiences something to look at the break up the pure music. I have a good friend who is a dancer who has said to me in the past that orchestras are not visual enough so she doesn’t know where to look during performances. So it has been making me think about how people listen to music and if just sitting and listening is dying out.

For example – in preparation for the Gigbeth conference Andrew Dubber worked with us on the questions to pose to delegates. One of the areas we talked about was how people listen to recorded music. If most people use ipods to listen to music by shuffle – are people listening to whole albums any more. And just how much time to people give to just listening to music rather than listening while doing something else like the washing up or studying etc?

As a classically trained musician and a keen music fan I (when I have the time) like nothing more than going to live music events where I can just listen or positioning myself strategically between my BOSE speakers and taking in the finer points of a symphonic work or a great album.

However – life doesn’t allow many of those moments for me right now – with two young children and too many work committments. But something that I have wondered about for a while is if sitting dead still and silent is the way to go for any kind of music anyway? One reason I love to listen to my classical CD collection at home is that I can dance around like a loony to a Sibelius Symphony or sing like my life depended along to Peter Grimes! In fact most of the time, the only way my children let me listen to any kind of music is if we can dance to it. So we have whole routines mapped out to Tchaikovsky, Puppini Sisters and even the Kaiser Chiefs…

I have often wondered if CBSO concerts would be more enjoyed by some of the audience if they had an area where they could dance or at least move along to the music (the players and the conductors do it after all!). From my days working for the CBSO in the mid nineties I remember how some of the regulars used to complain if they got sat next to a ‘hummer’ (someone who just could not help but hum along under their breath). I know that there is nothing worse that someone else’s bad humming – but these people need an outlet… I would sing along given the chance some of the time!

And then after pondering all that I went out for a girly night to see Deacon Blue at the Symphony Hall. I have never been to a ‘pop’ concert in there before and so was quite apprehensive about how it would work. It was good though and they sounded great with really good sound and lighting. However, I thought it was sad that, although we could get up and dance in our seats – the minute someone (usually only a handfull of hard core fans) wanted to dance in the isles – they got a firm telling off from the stewards. I know why this is – but some people’s dancing needed a little more room for manoeuvre (if you know what I mean) and it was a shame to see their enjoyment curtailed in this way.

I’ve also been having load of conversations about Gigbeth and the fact that my instinct is to sell it purely on the music – but that other events can be more attractive because people are sold the whole package – beer, meeting people etc… I know that every type of music sells itself on the experience these days – but is it only classical music left that insists that you leave your drinks/chat, dancing etc at the door.

So I would be interested to see how many people genuinely listen to any kind of music without doing anything else. As someone who spent my student days wondering round Richer Sounds picking up the next best speakers and reading What Hi Fi? (sad and geeky I know for a girl!) – am I a dying breed? Is it that most people now listen to music on low quality headphones whilst doing something else..? Do we need to re-learn how to listen? And should classical gigs have dance floors?

Right after that I’m off to dig out some thing I haven’t listened to for ages….

P.S. To all those who asked – yes my mum and her new hip are doing just fine – thanks!

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