Listen to This

Yes – Listen to This –

What do you listen to? How does this affect your music? Would you like to make your music and recordings better? Well listen to this and you will understand how to achieve both.

There is no magic here and there is no magic in the studio that will help you make better music and of course better recordings. But there are two things that will surely get you there.

You can read books, go to seminars, pay for instruction (sometimes way too much) and even research websites like LRT and all of these things can help you to make better music and better recordings but they are not the be all end all. Nor are they of the most value.

What are the Two Things

If you guessed ears kudos to you but you’re not quite there yet. I will definitely pass along brownie points to you though! If you collect enough you’ll get something free for sure.

Your ears are one of your most valuable assets as a musician and especially as a recording engineer. Without them, or them working properly, you’ll be in a really tough spot.

As valuable assets as they are your ears are not the two things I am referring to but they will be covered in later posts and possibly other body parts will be covered too. Stay on the road gutter hounds!

I am talking about two things that you must do better to better your music and recordings;

Listen to This

Listen – simple huh. Maybe for some. I’m sure we can all recall times when someone hasn’t listened. Most times the result is benign but other times fatal.

But what does Listen really mean?

I thought about this myself and after extensive and exhaustive research (a quick Google search to see what the big old web has to say) I found  the following:

Listen to This - research results
Super Extensive Research Result

Yes that is an amazingly horrible graphical rendition of my screen – I promise I will fix it soon. For now I will interpret what the definition is for those of you that do not own microscopes and corrective lenses.

Listen – “give one’s attention to a sound” according to my extensive and exhaustive research. Which is the same damn thing you’d all do anyway, except maybe a few boomers and older that would pull out a ten pound dusty old dictionary (yes a book – hard cover and all – coming soon to a museum near you).

Kidding aside – Listening is a key concept to music and recording. I need not explain why, I hope?

So to listen your giving your attention (or should be giving it) to that sound(s).

And the Other

Hear – “perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something)” as I’ve also found through exhausting research. Please pardon my lack of humor as my funny bone has broken.

I will spare you the super high quality screen shot and put a comical picture or something hear for you later. For now I will just get on with it.

Listen to This - My Ear
My Ear – in My Studio Control Room

The definition starts with the word “perceive”, well guess what that means . . . you and me are going to hear things differently. Yep, tis true.

The “someone or something” is the music for our needs and the ear is, well, the ear.

Hearing is another key concept to music and recording.

Attention and Perception

Listen and Hear.

So what now?

Now the homework starts – but it’s fun shit so don’t worry too much about it.

Here’s the deal – You are now aware that Listening and Hearing are vital components of making music and recording music. We will be talking more about this in future articles as well as training your ears.

No ear push-ups or anything like that, but we will be giving them a much needed work out.

The Attention (or Listening) seems easy – but it is so much easier to become distracted … trust me on this.

The Perception (or Hearing) is natural though individuals become accustomed to their own perceptions as each persons life and life events progress. Again trust me on this – I’ll do research if you insist but that will take time away from me covering many important concepts, topics, tips and techniques for you.

What You Can Control

Believe it or not you can control both listening and hearing. To an extent anyway.

I will discuss more on this in upcoming articles.

But here is the “homework” I mentioned above.

For the next week focus on listening and hearing and the difference between them. I’m not asking you to write an essay or take notes or any crazy thing like that. Just be consciously aware of what you are hearing and how you listen (or don’t listen) to sounds.

I’m not going to hold you to it but I would ask that you provide feedback in the form of a comment in the comments section below as I am interesting in what you find about your own hearing and listening.

Sound Check

Do you hear what I hear – Listen to this!

I am creating a special category to cover human auditory functionality – that’s just a fancy way to say I’m going to categorize and tag all the listening and hearing articles under Sound Check. For now you will find this article under the recording category.

It’s That Time Again – Final Thoughts –

My intent is not to make you feel stupid or to come across crass but rather to enlighten you on these two very important and commonly misunderstood concepts that are a must to create quality music and recordings.

As a side note, when I searched for the definition of listening the word hearing was listed as a synonym. I find this disturbing as the two words are very different as one involves perception and one does not. Also hearing does not really require attention as it is a subconscious activity.

Think of it this way – Did you ever hear someone say “did you hear that” and the other say “no I wasn’t listening”? The words are different and not at all synonyms except maybe to some English language professionals.

Now if you hear someone say “did you smell that, it stinks?” You will most likely take in a big sniff through your nose and agree – why – I have no friggin clue but I’ve never seen anyone not take the big sniff. 🙂

So listen to this – A solid foundation will provide you with a solid sound. I am dedicating several articles to the techniques I use to listen and hear and when and why I use them. Your music and recordings will benefit as mine have. Be sure to like this article on the social media buttons up top and leave me your experiences, questions or techniques on listening and hearing.

In good faith and always for here you …



4 thoughts on “Listen to This

  1. How about ‘feeling’ the music? I’ve been in bands and orchestras for years and the conductors often comment on this to us, about how we need to play and ‘hear’ and ‘listen’ so that we ‘feel the music instead of ‘hear’ it. Does that make sense? What’s your take on that?

    1. Feeling the music is important Sarah and I agree this does make sense. I find I feel the music more so when I am playing an instrument or when I am listening for enjoyment.

      When I am recording I do my absolute best to listen and hear only as “feeling” at the point of recording I’ve found very distracting. I also find that I discolor my mixes when I’m grooving and moving, or feeling the music.

      On another note when I am recording someone else it is most important to get them to “feel” the music. We’ve all heard songs (some very successful) that do not have feel. Think back to when drum machines were new to the market – tick tock tick tock – they were abused and had no feel. It is a good thing that many pop artists could compensate with vocals because the music was horrid.

      Yes, “feeling” is important though I find it must be used carefully when recording. You don’t want to much spice in your sauce!

      What instruments have you played? I’ve always enjoyed orchestras but never played in one. Is it extra hard with so many others. I found getting 3 guys in a band to be on the same page can be a real challenge. 🙂

      Thanks for the insight and comment Sarah I hope you enjoyed LRT and come back soon.

      ROCK ON!


  2. Wow! A lot of useful info here. I agree. Especially when playing with other people. I like the idea of ‘perceiving’ the sounds. It’s good to do this because you can move forward with the next chord or note more naturally. Don’t know much about playing music but I have and still do mess around with it. Inspiring stuff : )

    1. Thanks Claire! LRT is coming along slowly though quality is key.

      There will be more updates on a regular basis coming soon.

      If you get a chance pick up a paint brush or colored pencils and pick different notes on the guitar or a piano and paint that color – never know what you’ll see.

      It’s funny, everything is music and any notes make up a chord but some sound good and others don’t. 🙂

      Stop back and check out the new stuff next week!

      ROCK ON!

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