There are three ways I’ll listen to music:
On my way to somewhere else
While doing something else
In the shower
Music has served as a buffer for the outline of my life. I’ll listen to music on my way to school, and am constantly late (sorry Mr. Stoehr) because I can’t bear to drive without my driving playlist on loop. I’ll tap my foot to some soft jazz or lo-fi while doing my homework. While in the shower, you can hear me shrieking along to some sort of emotional hipster beat about love. I’ll hear the music when I play it, and I’ll notice when a favorite song is playing and I’ll know when to skip if I’m not feeling a beat, but I don’t absorb it. So what am I listening for?
If you ask me what an artist says at a certain point in the song, I wouldn’t know. But if you ask me how the artist is feeling, well, that’s different. I don’t listen to the music to hear what they’re telling me, I listen to music to feel what I assume they’re feeling.
In Biology last year, we learned about positive feedback, a concept that means that the release of a stimulus enhances the output of that same stimulus. When I’m feeling a specific sort of way, I’ll use the feeling of that music to enhance it. Which, to be honest, isn’t always a good thing. Yeah, I can listen to a bop when I’m having a good time to have an even better time, but when I’m in a gloomy mood and want to continue to have such, I’ll be listening to sad music. It’s a tradeoff, I guess.
So in this understanding of my habits, it seems sort of selfish of me to capitalize on these artists’ emotions for my own benefit (or detriment), even though that’s sort of what music production serves to supply. Regardless, I’ve been recently trying to take more time to understand what the artist is trying to tell me through their songs, instead of overlaying their raw feelings with my own. I’ll listen to the music to just listen, and to hear what they’re saying. I want to give the artists credit for their work and their lyrical powers. From now on, I’ll try and absorb. I’ll soak in what they’re trying to tell me in their words, and maybe that will introduce a new way for me to enjoy my music: less as the background track of my life, but more as a playlist.