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  #1  
Old 04.11.05, 1:28 PM
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What do non musicians hear?

I went to a friends gig the other day at a small pub. Not many people had turned up I was VERY last minute so they hadnt really promoted it. There was a tiny crowd and you ended up going to the front just out of sympathy for the bands playing.

So I'm watching this band (Generic emo. REALLY generic emo, The lead singer even had Those Emo Glasses.) And it occurs to me that I know how pretty much every song is going to go from the opening two chords: Heavy bit, shouty bit, quiet melodic breakdown bit, Next Heavy Bit. And the three chord trick.
So I turn to my friend (non musician) and start telling him about the three chord trick, It then occurs to me that he never even noticed or cared until I pointed it out to him.

A little bit of a rambling story but heres the point: How much do you reckon learning music affects the way you listen to it? I think back and wonder if I even cared about tone before I picked up a guitar and noticed that some bands just have better sounding guitars than others. I used to think Tool was too "Murky" sounding, now I love it. I used to listen to tom morrello and think the guitar was like a kind of wooden synthesyser and you could make it sound like anything if you tried hard enough.

How do you reckon learning guitar has changed the way you think about songs, bands, tone and players?
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  #2  
Old 04.11.05, 6:24 PM
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i used to be amazed at simple chord progressions before i became a musician.
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Old 04.11.05, 6:40 PM
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I think that being a musician sometimes takes some of the fun out of just listening to a song for the sake of enjoyment. I find myself analyzing sounds, tone, guitar players style etc., instead of just enjoying the music and vocals. I find it hard to just sit down in the house and listen to a CD. I'd rather have it on while doing something else, so I don't focus on the aspects I mentioned.

At the same time, being a musician and listening to music can be fun because you can pick out chords and progressions and really enjoy the way a song was constructed or written, much more than someone who is not a musician.
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Old 04.11.05, 7:03 PM
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Being a music major and being exposed to all of the so-called "classics" has really helped me to analyze and pick apart chords and solos and other tricks people use to write music.

It has also helped me to discover just how boring and mediocre mainstream music has become. In a way its been a blessing, as Ive discovered a pile of innovative bands who challenge my mind and the way I perceive music. On the other hand, its been a curse, as I tend to get very frustrated with most of the music I hear day to day.

To answer your question, I suppose non-musicians just hear sound. Ive been a musician for a long time, so its hard to remember back when I listened to music on a strictly casual basis.
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Old 04.12.05, 11:56 AM
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The thing that really makes a difference is learning about production. Most nonmusician/nonproducer/muggle types can't tell the difference between a song with basic value and a recording that was produced well and has good timbres in it.
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Old 04.12.05, 12:57 PM
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Seems like it's kind of like being a magician watching another magician's act. You know how the rabbit got in the hat, you know how and why it works, but you can still enjoy a good performance and a good show.

And it's a good way to learn some new tricks.
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Old 04.12.05, 5:43 PM
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I think when you are a non musician you see the tip of the iceberg, when you become a musician, there is a whole new dimension to the song you hear
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Old 04.12.05, 6:14 PM
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Wink

a friend of mine had been playing for around a year but hadn't developed too much, and when i showed him simple scales it blew his mind. i'm sure that non-musicians have no comprehension of the simplicity or the sheer complexity that alot of good music out there has in it.
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Old 04.13.05, 2:19 AM
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I agree you it does add anothr dimension to listening to songs but its annoying in ways. I reckon I could write much better songs If I found a way back from "Musician" headspace to "Listener" headspace.
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Old 04.13.05, 5:16 AM
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i feel that non-musicians find it hard to appreciate all types of music. for example, you see so many kids that think 'im a punk kid' and then wont listen to anything thats not punk because they have an 'image' to uphold. being a musician, i find that even though the music that really touches my heart is metal and hard rock, i still listen to and appreciate radiohead, incubus, rhcp, tommy emmanuel, coldplay, the john butler trio, prodigy, snoop dogg, nas, ice cube, N.E.R.D, silverchair, even some britney and greenday to an extent! its hard to find a non musician who can put on coal chamber or slipknot one minute, and then be chillin coldplay or john butler the next. even if some non musicians do listen to a variety of genres, most of the ones i know only scratch the surface of the other types of music and listen to whatever is going on the radio at the time for that genre. they dont truely appreciate the value of the song - they dont 'feel' the music like a musician does. a greatly composed and well written song can shake my soul, send shivers up my spine or bring me close to tears; for a non musician most of the time they just see it as a good song, not an emotional and spiritual experience.
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Old 04.14.05, 12:34 AM
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I know a couple. And at least one borderline case. What matters is making music a vital part of your life. I feel obliged to point out that I know some very skilled musicians who listen to music very badly.
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Old 04.14.05, 3:33 AM
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Once you learn to play an instrument and learn music you never hear a song the same way again. Depending on which way you feel about that, it's a good and a bad thing. I, personally, would love to hear a song in pure innocence and without critique. We always say how pure a child's thoughts are because they are yet to be corrupted with the facts of life. Well, on a level, that is exactly how a non-musician is when it comes to hearing a song. The don't understand (or care) how difficult that legatto was or how intricate that break down was. All they care about is that it sounded good to them and it did something to them emmotionally. Think about who the vast majority of your audience is in any venue: Non-musicians! If you play a song that they enjoy they keep coming to your shows. They are often the best critics when it comes to new material because we musicians often get caught up in the science of music and let the basics of a great song get lost in all the nit-picking, and they simply either hear a good or a bad song. Hearing music from a musicians point is great, and hearing a song as a non-musician is also great is great as well. They both are relative to the existence of all music. Wow, that was deep!
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Old 04.18.05, 1:03 AM
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being a musician most of my life (and being a guitar geek) has really made me focus more on music and how it is created.

sometimes, it does take the fun out of it... 'cause i'll be listening to a record and obsess over how they got "that sound."

it was maddening for a while, but i've learned to appreciate the music as a whole and as a musician/gear lover at the same time.


furthermore to the point ... i think it's frustrating at times when people fall head over heels over relatively "simple" pop music.

but sometimes it's that simplicity that people want. the melody. a good groove to shake that ass.

*shrug*

frustrating... yes.

but, it's certainly a challenge trying to write challenging music, yet, fun music at the same time.
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Old 04.18.05, 3:25 AM
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I think there really is a vast difference between what musicians and non-musicians hear. I talk with my wife about music alot and I'm always amazed at how I will hear something in a song and mention it to her and she has no idea what I'm talking about. Because we've been married for so long (over 10 years) and because she's heard me playing so many times, as well as the bands I've been in over the years, she DOES have way more of a clue than you're average Joe, but there are some things in songs that only another musician will notice. Also, she can never tell when someone on Saturday Night Live is lip-synching, and I'm like "it's so obvious!!!". I probably bore the hell out of her with all the anal-retentive little comments I make about music, but that's OK, boring the hell out of each other is what married people do.

Another thing that changes how you listen to music is having experience in sound engineering. Between being a musician and being an (occasional)engineer, listening to music like an normal person is pretty much impossible for me now.

I can still remember how clueless I was before I started playing guitar, though. I didn't even know the word "solo". When my best friend and I talked about lead playing, we called it "that showoff stuff", which I guess could be considered accurate back in the 80's. I also didn't know the difference between guitar and bass. I was looking at electrics in a music store one time while a bass player was trying something out, I remember thinking the guy must have sucked because there was no distortion. Then, when I found out the difference between the instruments, I remember thinking that I really didn't want to play bass because of how the right hand always looked, with the wrist bent to pluck the strings using the fingers instead of a pick. I thought bass players looked faggoty, except for Steve Harris. Damn, was I a moron! Still, even today I've noticed that, even with adults, it seems like alot of people don't know what a bass is. I've had people(women) that I work with come to see my band and it was obvious they had no clue. They would ask why we had 3 guitar players and I'd be like "uh, the other one's a bass" and then get out of there. When someone who's not a child is that far removed from music I can't really talk to them.

I also spent years in a cover band and, being an ear-player, I learned how to figure out other people's songs very quckly without using sheet-music or tab. Ever since then I've been able to visualize how alot of songs are played on guitar just by listening to them. Sometimes I'll go get my guitar just to find out if I "heard" the parts correctly, even if I actually have no interest in the song whatsoever. Does anyone else find themselves doing this? This is especially true of simple stuff, for example I'm pretty sure if I was at a Jet show and one of their guitarists dropped dead, I could fill in on the radio songs, even though I've never sat down to figure them out. Of course, that could be because I learned lots of AC/DC songs back in the day, and pretty much everything I've heard from Jet is just an AC/DC retread guitar-wise.

...and those guys have the balls to say in a Guitar One magazine interview that Steve Vai doesn't play with feeling. F*ckin hacks!
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Old 04.28.05, 12:55 AM
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melody, lyrics, groove.

if i can make those things as interesting as possible, i've written a great song
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