Do You Really Listen?

 My essay about why we listen to music and the importance of the people behind the artist.

Gary Paczosa was Altan’s sound engineer for the album The Blue Idol(2002)

Dear readers. I have just finished my second cup of tea for the day. Would you care to join me for a little reflection? I have questions in mind. And I have conclusions of my own. How about yours? What’s your take on this article?

What makes listening to music fulfilling? Is it the speed of how the tune is being played? Is it accuracy? Technique? Style? We can go on and on rambling about what makes music interesting. I am sure we have our own sets of prejudices when it comes to other forms of music. Elitism after all exists in all forms of persuasions be it aesthetic, intellect or economic. We are snobs!

Jeff Wolpert: engineer, mixing, assistant producer for Loreena McKennitt albums and live recordings at work on her Mediterranean tour.

I think there are those who chose a particular form of genre based on the fact that very few listen to it so that makes it cool. Yes, it is the foundation of cool that keeps the business going round and round. Sometimes it is not so much on the beauty of the music than the fact that it is simply COOL to own such albums or listen to bands which your COOL friends approve of. Peer pressure?

I know I am not innocent. I have given up my biases years ago to put balance in this site. It is after all one half me, and the rest belongs to the people who contribute to the traffic of this site. Sometimes I feel my preferences are just one fourth of what this site is all about. Honestly, I also listen to other types of music. That is why I have a secondary blog which caters to indie musicians where genres like Rock, Electro and Jazz apply. But Celtic music was responsible in turning my world around which in turn gave birth to this site. Writing has been a source of joy for me.

Enya and Nicky Ryan inside old Aigle studio(picture from

Sometimes, miss the old days when I used to let people listen to my records to cite an example. I even went as far as making my own mix tapes so I can inject those recordings on buses and bars where people are found. And I can talk for hours how a particular note can gain different colors based on the effects that you put on a sound, making you travel inside the music and marvel at the wonders of the recording technology. I can write an essay how clarinets sound so good when played sonorously, gaining a haunting quality.

There are also times when I just listen to make me feel good at the end of the day. We all listen to music for different reasons. But I think the best music is that one where you always get satisfied in all aspects. Something that makes you think of how the arrangements of the instruments were done, the album artwork, the people who worked in the photography, the liner notes, the sound engineers, mixers and finally those who do the mastering process.

Richard Dodd: engineer and producer of The Magical Ring, the legendary album by the band Clannad

Have you ever wondered how the musicians and people involved in the album making worked hard in the studio to give you the finished product? Somehow these are things that got ignored in the world of fast mp3 downloads and not having too much time to REALLY listen. Do you really listen?


One Reply to “Do You Really Listen?”

  1. I love listening to the sound of a studio recording – but then to go beyond and hear (or hear and see!) it performed with an audience gives a whole other dimension to the song.

    I have to say I usually like both versions of a given song, and the together they give a wonderfully full picture of the music. Because of my passion to know both versions, I usually get a chance to experience all the results of those who work behind the musicians to create a real thing of beauty! 🙂


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