Is listening to music a passive experience for you? Or are you someone who really gets in there, who dissects and analyzes what’s happening? Do you find yourself listening to songs on repeat or googling the different producers on your favorite tracks to find out what other projects they’ve worked on, maybe see what else they’ve got coming up?
Music is an interesting art form because everyone processes it differently. The number of people who listen to music and the number of people who actually go to a concert are vastly disproportionate. That’s largely because people interact with music in different ways. For some, a certain song or album might be the soundtrack of their lives at the moment. For others, music offers a window into the human experience, it sets their imaginations going full blast. Some have it on in the background at all times, others use it to go to sleep, while others get downright obsessed.
Unlike many other art forms, music often has multiple creatives involved in its creation. From producers to engineers to studio musicians, it thrives on collaboration. From start to finish there can be numerous individuals who help sculpt and define what a piece of music evolves into. Sometimes music gathers so much momentum during the creation period that by the time it’s released to the general public it practically explodes on the scene with raw, creative energy. Highly universal, from the cave men who used it to warn of impending wooly mammoth attacks, to colonial soldiers using drums to march in-time, music has served as the backbone of so many human endeavors. It speaks to the basest, and some would argue, also the highest of human instincts. Millions consume it every day, making music the most prolific and universal art form on earth. Music will always be with us and there will always be a demand for it, especially the stuff that moves us (and grooves us too).
Although music is definitely beloved, the truth of the matter is that the average listener actually doesn’t pay close attention when they listen to it. They just let it wash over them. Such laypeople insinctively know what they like and what they don’t like. A song either grabs them or it doesn’t. Whereas, the keen music lover will note how a song is arranged and tune-in to the subtle complexities of various tracks or instrumentations. In short, they’ll have an innate appreciation of well-engineered music, asking questions like: How it is orchestrated to reflect the narrative of the song? How does the refrain build and change throughout the piece? How are the vocals arranged to heighten the emotion of the song, or even run contrary to the happiness conveyed in the chorus?
Production style and value often stands out to the naturally adept ear. Whether the sound is desirably crass on a death metal album, or clean and crisp on a pop album, those sonic characteristics stand out to a seriously engaged listener.
Ever find yourself wishing the vocals on an album were brighter, more prominently placed, or that the production quality matched the grandeur of the composition or the depth of a lyric’s poetry? Ever have ideas for adding a cuttting edge twist to an otherwise folky sound or making a hip hop track that really cuts and buries the “played and staid” so prevalent in mass market music? Have the urge to create captivating rhythms with bone-thumping basslines that grab people and pull them to their feet?
If you have a keen natural insight into what makes a song work, research your options for careers in the music industry and see if producing, engineering, mixing or mastering music is something you’d like to do.
Know this: if you’ve got serious ears, you’ve got something not everyone has. Making use of a great set of ears, might just be your ticket to a fulfilling career in music.
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