One of the benefits of our tight-knit recording community is the availability of dialogue and exchange on the subject and techniques of recording. What do you use and how you use it? What tips have you got? Any questions? There is certainly no shortage of websites dedicated to the subject and forums to air our views in- the first being Twitter of course! Recording chat is plentiful among us recordists. But what about the other end of the recording process- the listening?
During my trip to the west of Ireland I spent a blissful amount of time sitting by the ocean, doing just that. What made it special was, of course, the unique location and its spectacular scenery, but there was something else as well, something different.
Then I got it- I was being totally relaxed and physically comfortable in that listening space. I noticed how my shoulders were down, my eyes were closed, I wasn’t- in other words- sitting all crunched up and tensed at a computer.
It struck me just how often I listening to work in an uncomfortable position. This is for practical reasons of course- the computer is where most of the sounds I am interested in or need to work on come through, and sitting up at a desk is a computer’s natural environment. Closed headphones help, but your body is far from in its ideal state to be receiving something fragile and intricate such as soundscapes.
In between bouts of email checking or while filling in an application form, this speed-listening at our desks is a reflection on the overwhelming amount of online information we sort through on a daily basis, sprinkled with a little FOMO: I’ll have a quick listen to this, then move on to the next one.
Is this the listening status quo we must accept? As a lot of work goes into recording and editing, shouldn’t the same amount of effort go into listening?
Personally I balance out online speed-listening with two locations other than my laptop: one is the kitchen. I find that doing something with my hands frees the mind to just take in content, that depending on the subject can be entertaining and often educational.
Another is lying in bed with my headphones- this is for creative soundscapes of a longer length that I might be particularly looking forward to. I usually have one or two of those a week, and I really make a point of listening as intently as I can, both for content and technique.
I am genuinely curious to hear how you listen: by this I mean conscious listening, not radio-in-the- background. The ‘practical’ listening of days when stuff just needs to get done, yet something intriguing has just popped up in your Soundcloud feed…
We may not always have an Atlantic ocean at hand, but being conscious of making some dedicated listening time (and space) can only benefit our enjoyment of what we listen to.