Rewilding Music: 6 Months Into...Something
Hey there, pub-goers! Six months ago I gave up recorded music as part of what may be the dumbest personal experiment ever (reclusib brilliantly called it being a 'musical anchorite'), and I figure I should give an update.
It's been...weird. Not living without recorded sound--that was honestly pretty easy--but letting it back into my life has been a bit strange.
A great deal of music now sounds frantic and overly complex to my ear. Busy. Crowded. "Too many notes," as Joseph II supposedly told Mozart. When I feel compelled to listen to music, I seem to gravitate toward very simple percussion and human voices.
Picking up a guitar again did not feel at all like I thought it would. My fingers remembered the forms, but the act of making music with it felt stifling, somehow. Frets determining what sounds come out of the instrument felt like a confinement to someone else's idea of what music must be. A little bit of light musical bondage that I was no longer entirely at ease with.
I thought once recorded music was out of my life, I would gravitate to simpler instruments like my diddley bow or frame drum. It rarely happened. I mostly sang simple songs and beat rhythms out on tables. It was satisfactory. It was enough.
Amplified music in public places became a complete horror to me. The frequencies from PAs are like an assault from some sonic Lovecraftian entity. Buzzy, insectile, inhuman. It disrupts cognition in some strange way I don't even know how to describe. On the bright side, I'll probably never again spend far too much money on concert tickets!
I've also noticed a new difficulty with recordings of humans speaking. If I sit here at the library with the (ick) communal headphones on and try to listen to a podcast, my brain really struggles to retain any information from the disembodied voices. I have excellent recall of people _singing_ on recordings, but people speaking are often just...noise. I don't have this issue with real humans in face-to-face conversations. In fact, I feel like I've gotten significantly better lately at being present for and recalling conversations with 'live' humans.
All in all, I don't quite know what to think about this experiment, and I'm unsure what my relationship with recorded music and voices will be going forward. I feel like I'm trying to make myself more sensitive to whispers in a world where all is shouts and screams. Sometimes I seriously doubt it's worth the anxiety, other times I feel like it may be the only thing worth doing.
"I feel like I'm trying to make myself more sensitive to whispers in a world where all is shouts and screams." That hit home.
I love acoustic music, but even so much 'acoustic' music is amplified these days. I used to run a mic-free open-mic night where the rule was "as long as it's not plugged in and is PG/12 rated, knock yourself out!". That was always a good evening.
I'm going to enjoy reading more of your entries and learning more about your experiment. THIS is why I'm on the small web.
Wow, that's an amazing experiment ! Did you have the idea yourself, or did you hear about it ? In any case, I would love to read more about this.
I used to wear headphones all the time, so a silent moment was very displeasing and boring to me at that time. And I think this is the case for many of us, just look at the number of people wearing headphones in the public transports.
It's also astounding how we try to isolate the recorded music from its acoustic environment. Sometimes when I am listening to music in a noisy place, I like to think of the music "with" the surrounding noises, rather than forcing my brain to focus on the music alone. And when I do that I feel a great relief and relaxation in my body. This shows how much effort we do to focus just on the music.
Anyway, thanks for your great post, I will also try your experiment :) The hard part will be to convince my S.O. ^^
Hey ~whiskeyding! Good to see you around!
~bartender? Still some lemonade left? I'd be ever so grateful.
I'm one of these mildly strange guys, who do not have a radio or TV or stream or music box "ON" almost all day. I grew up like: "Visitor entering the door? Switch off that noisy stuff immediately!" And some day I grew tired of the radio and left it off. So it's quite calm around my house. And I like it that way.
Very recently I had to wait in line (ca. 6 people) to see the doctor. And there was one person with a tablet entertaining the queue with whatever, sudden channel flips included. This was like 8 in the morning. I thought by myself "Did it ever cross your mind, that a) not everyone else is amused, and b) your brain might die from stimulation overflow some day?" Of course, I did not say that. Call me polite. :) However, had it been going on for hours, I might have said something.
I can only recommend silence at home.
Tracker's ears perk up as he hears ~whiskeyding describing his latest personal experiment.
"That's quite a fascinating idea, friend. I haven't tried this particular experiment yet, but perhaps I should."
He leans forward in his chair and takes a sip of some hot rooibos tea with a bit of maple syrup.
"I limit myself in the computer space by just using calls, texts, and emails to communicate with the people in my life, and I don't own a smartphone, so I can't browse the internet or scroll mindlessly through apps when I'm not in front of my laptop. I also make a point of doing most of my daily personal computing (outside of work) using Gopher and Gemini rather than the web. With only a few exceptions, I usually only open my web browser when someone texts or emails me an HTTP link that I need to read or interact with. Since my phone is a text-only e-ink device and my laptop boots into full-screen Emacs using EXWM, this means that the overwhelming majority of my interactions with computers are through text. I think this helps quite a bit in keeping me focused and preventing sensory overload."
Tracker shrugs and sits back in his chair.
"I suppose we all build our own little walls around the things that we want to try and stay away from. Thanks for sharing a bit about yours."
Could you share a little more about your e-ink phone?
Sure. I have a Light Phone II. It's branded as a
premium, minimal phone without any distractions.
Here's the company's website if you'd like to find
Super cool! Now that you mention it, I've seen those online a few times. Looks really cool, but tough to ever commit myself to not get the most 'bang for buck' when buying a technology item. Thanks for sharing!