Saturday, July 2, 2011

Have you ever

Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m once again listening to Pearl Jams, Just Breathe. Have you ever cupped your hands over your headphones (back in the day) or pushed your earbuds into your ears so that you could listen to music? I used to do that to pick up the bass line of a song I wanted to learn. If you have never done this, try it. The volume does not need to be loud, actually if it is too loud, it doesn’t work. I do it to pull out all the other layers you don’t usually hear in a normal listen via speakers or earbuds. It is like having the music re-verb in you head instead of off the walls or the interior of your car. It bounces around in your skull. Again, don’t do it with a loud volume. I don’t want to be responsible for your hearing loss.

I can pick out the lyrics and melody of course when I do this, but I can also pull the bass line and all the other intricacies of the piece easier. Examples would be like how many guitars are used. I can pull the lead guitar away from the accomplement, which is usually more intricate. I can pick out the many layers. Such as this Pearl Jam song. Vedder is the only singer. There is no harmony with a voice until the bridge and later incarnations of the chorus. But there is an acoustic guitar, synthesized wind instrument like a wooden flute or that old airy pipe organ sound... oh what is that thing... (google-ing)... ok google has failed me., bass guitar, strings, and an electric guitar. Back in the day I used to be able to tell if it was real or synthesized strings and if it was a violin or viola, trumpet or french horn, and so on.

Pushing my headphones into my head was how I used to learn how to play something. I would have one headphone plugged into my cd player (before the invention of ipods) and the other headphone plugged into my bass amp. I didn’t want to be too loud and annoy everyone else in the house. But I would spend hours plunking it out until I got it. This was also before tabs and chord sheets were readily available on the web.

My nephews process is similar in some ways. He gets the tabs to something off the web and plugs in everything to his amps and plays along. Only he likes playing everything so loud that the bathroom toilet is vibrating.

Even if you don’t play instruments and aren’t interested in dissecting how a song is put together, listening to something with your headphones or earbuds with your hands or fingers pushing them into your head is a very interesting way to experience the song in a new way.

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