Musicians Who Don’t Listen to Music

Whilst it sounds like an oxymoron, it’s true, and they exist and in large numbers. Whilst at one point in their development they did listen to music, somewhere they stopped. This can be problematic because whilst there can be a degree of technical proficiency from these individuals, they’ve usually lost the ability to feel what makes music feel good.

Playing the blues is a great example of this. In its simplest form it’s a twelve bar progression with a shuffle feel. For many musicians, this is one of the first things you learn because it’s easy to understand and great too jam on. But if you really think that knowing a twelve bar shuffle means that you can play the blues, then you are wrong. The subtleties that exist in blues music are not something that can be taught; it needs to heard. Sure you can talk about things like playing behind the beat and slurring notes, but until a musician is actually hearing it in millions of great blues recordings, then they have no chance of playing a blues that sounds like a real blues.

The same goes for the type of music you are listening to. I personally don’t think you should only listen to one type of music; you should in actual fact be listening to every piece of music you love regardless of the style. But if you find that you’re playing in an Afrobeat band but don’t find the time to listen to Afrobeat records, then you should really consider if are able to play the style at all. If you’re not listening to the music that you’re playing, then you’re without a doubt missing the delicacies that make the style of music great.

The most frustrating part about these musicians is that often they try and fake that they do listen to music. They think that just because they can talk about artists like Trombone Shorty or Professor Longhair that then they’re into New Orleans music. But the proof is in the groove. You can feel it, even smell it. They may have the musical theory but they always miss the point.

So if you’re a musician think about the last time you really listened to music. Not because you had to learn or analyse a song but for the simple pleasure of listening to music. If it’s been more than even a couple of days then you really need to have a good think about why that is. Do you even enjoy music anymore? Has it become all about the money? Why are you still playing? Regardless, please for the sake making great music, try and re-find that things in music that makes you feel good.


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