PS AUDIO: Listening

We perceive sound with our ears. We listen with our minds. What’s interesting about this observation is that no two people hear or listen in the same way yet we can each agree an oboe is an oboe, a guitar a guitar, Beethoven’s 5th rather than another symphony.

Our senses may be similar in function but each of us perceives the world in a unique way that’s refreshingly personal, yet remarkably collaborative. It’s why we can go to a concert and sway to the music as a group, yet react to that very same music with individual feelings. I’ve personally witnessed a myriad of facial expressions to the same passage of music: tears, joy, surprise, and delight.

Other kinds of sounds don’t seem to bring the same level of what I’d like to call collaborative diversity as does music. We don’t seem to react much differently to the sounds of crowds, construction, traffic, or even a babbling brook. But gather one hundred strangers together at a musical event and their separation melts into a collaborative group. They clap, tap, and move to the beat as a single organism.

It seems to me listening to music is something very special. A means of bringing people together. People who are from all walks of life, political persuasion, economic status, education, or lifestyle. I can’t think of another form of communication that has the power to bind us together like music does.

Listening may be an individual process but if it involves music it suddenly becomes a group exercise.

Maybe it’s the elixir our divided society needs.

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