New Album Listening – Learning to Appreciate New Music

When listening to an album for the first time, one can get stuck in a sort of mental impasse. Where and when to start is a difficult question, and techniques to truly appreciate the music are sometimes hard to come by. This guide is a jumping off point for people (like me) who find it hard to get "into" an album.

First things first, get some proper equipment. Apple ear-buds simply will not do if you want to experience a new album for the first time. Get a decent pair of headphones, or a stereo system. You do not need to overdo it, but it helps to have quality sound. Next, find a relaxing, distraction-free, environment. You want to be able to focus on the music, without computers or other people diverting your precious attention. A quiet bedroom or empty room will do.

Once you have set up your music (depending on your music software / hardware) listen to the songs in the proper order. The sequencing of the album has meaning and importance. Bands put thought into how they prepare their work, respect that and you will be rewarded. Oftentimes songs will relate to each other in ways impossible to predict. Similar themes (musical and lyrical) are hard to pick out if you're cherry picking around the album, listening to only a couple of the songs.

Of course, once you start listening, distractions arrise immediately. Try as hard as you can to resist such temptations. Close your eyes. Try to picture the music in your mind's eye. Listen carefully to lyrics, and if you can not understand them, listen to the intonation and tone of the singer's voice. Pay attention to the instrumentation. Try to imagine the recording session that produced this music. Note every song name as it starts playing.

Once you've listened through to the end, repeat the process the next day. You'll have a few songs that made your ear the first time. Resist the temptation to simply listen to those. Listen to the entire album again. Then again.

It takes a lot of mental effort to concentrate for such a long time on one thing, but the reward is well worth it. Rather than becoming intimidated by an abundance of unheard material, you learn to embrace the unknown. Your music taste will evolve faster, and you'll learn how to appreciate music even more. The rewards of becoming a true music lover are great; life becomes beautiful and rich.

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