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taphead

balanced listening

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Hey everybody, so I've been keeping track of every time I listen to a full release in this google sheets document https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mYGlFF_yVf1wz-SNEFbbmBSgN1KPy3YQt1VqDA1cGR8/edit?usp=sharing since 2016.  It's let me break down how I'm spending my time in ways that I like to nerd out on, like this chart that shows how I don't go very long without listening to Autechre.

But one thing that's interested me a lot is my decade focus breakdown.  I spend a lot of time listening to 2010's music, sometimes more than 75% of the time, but generally it's closer to 50%.  Part of me thinks that 50% is a good balance, that I should be spending the majority of my listening time engaged with what is currently happening in music so that my taste doesn't get stagnant and I'm not stuck listening to the same music for the rest of my life.  But I also wonder if maybe I'm too focused on the contemporary, and that when the specific things I am clued in on inevitably pass, and new things start to crop up in the future, I may end up being too fixated on what is now current to be able to appreciate the changes, and keeping in touch with a broader range of perspectives through time would put me in a better position to accept change.  I'm not like super worried about it or anything but it's been something I've been thinking about.  What do you think a good balance is here?

Days_Passed_Between_Listening_To_Autechre.png

1565601326276_Decade Listens By Month.png

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Surprised you didn't measure your heart-rate and emotional states. Talking about a broader range of perspectives! 😃

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Oh I thought you meant balancing genres in your listening habits to cultivate a more stable state of mind. Like Beethoven one day, Huey Lewis And The News the next day. You know, so you don't go CRAZY

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Our music listening habits intersect with Autechre, Animal Collective, VHS Head and Matmos.  And like you, Autechre has ~10X the listens of the others.

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1 hour ago, Candiru said:

Oh I thought you meant balancing genres in your listening habits to cultivate a more stable state of mind. Like Beethoven one day, Huey Lewis And The News the next day. You know, so you don't go CRAZY

I think this is something to look at for sure but I've been too lazy to enter in the genre info.  But honestly that's something I gravitate to pretty naturally, like I love an amen break but if it gets to a point where everything has an amen break, I'm eventually gonna snap and run into some kind of ambient pad land.

I actually only started doing this because my job involves spreadsheets and I wanted to figure out how to use them better.  But then the results got really interesting, like it turns out I listen to new music all the time and haven't gone a week without something new since I started doing this.  I'd figured there would be longer patches of only spending time with the stuff I know, but I am a bit addicted to the novelty of newness.

And yes Autechre are the best and get a lot of my listens tho I do love those other artists a lot as well.  I actually sort of took for granted how much I like them, but it's really only them and Keith Fullerton Whitman who I listen to this frequently.  And KFW has been putting a whole bunch of stuff out thru Bandcamp which I think is boosting the numbers there, Autechre are really in a league of their own here.

chart (96).png

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Posted (edited)

this is a weird angle to take when thinking about how diverse or not diverse your music tastes are. I'd expect something like this on WATMM though.

instead of worrying about how balanced your listening is in a strictly quantitative, empirical sense by recording how long/often you spend time listening to whatever kinds of music and analysing that, why not just dive into whatever piques your interest and get lost in that for however long you feel like? if you want to ensure diversity in your listening, whether it's period-wise or genre-wise, getting lost in numbers is not the key. imo the key is exploring, taking risks, developing a passion for new things outside your immediate preferences, and if you have an innate tendency like a lot of other music obsessives to trace influences back through history or investigate connections with other genres/scenes, then this happens naturally.

having said that, it can work in a roundabout way in the sense that some new thing you try might sound completely alien to you at first but you keep being drawn back to it, like something about it has just infected you irreversibly. it can be one specific track from an album you otherwise can't get into, which you keep listening to as you find yourself enjoying more and more of the rest of the album, until eventually the album itself becomes one of your favourites and acts as a gateway into a new world. I've had this phenomenon occur with every single kind of music I have ever been obsessed with since my adult years, starting with Ae (of course) and IDM. other things that entered the picture in a similar way were post-punk, post-rock, post-metal (I suspect all these "post" genres grab an IDM listener because of their more cerebral aspect), various forms of "bass music" covering dub, dancehall, grime, the "autonomic" sound, deep techno, then synthwave/original synth stuff which I was super hot on for a year or two, and for the last couple of years various metal subgenres that I hadn't cared for before, especially black metal.

basically, forcing a "balanced listening" (whatever murky definition that might have) isn't going to work, it should just happen naturally if you care about not listening to the same shit forever and actually spend the time to find new things to get obsessed about.

Edited by usagi
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I used to go to Discogs, apply filters like "1980" and "electro" and then make the list of all the stuff that shows up. It was like a fucking tournament sort of. If some release passed the first listening test (meaning that it was particularly interesting to me) it would get a "+" sign next to it. Not many releases would pass the first test. Among those releases that passed the first test some eventually began sticking out over time and after many listenings.

What I have found out with this somewhat autistic approach is that most of my favourite stuff was made pre-21th century (honorable exceptions include of course stuff like Confield, Go Plastic and Editions Mego stuff - Tone, Hecker, Haswell...). There is of course the problem that it's physically impossible (or that it would just consume an insane amount of time) to keep the track of all the stuff that people are putting out nowadays - go to Discogs, apply filters like "electro" and "idm"  to different decades to see how the number of releases literally exploded. Not to mention the Bandcamp stuff. Even with this problem in mind I still have to admit that I have found very few modern releases which interest me - imho it's a combination of the fact that it's very hard to be original and creative nowadays and the fact that literally anyone can upload stuff online. Of course, you could say that most of the people don't care about originality and just make whatever they wanna make and that's just fine. But I like when people are trying out new or at least relatively new things and unconventional approaches, maybe it's just me.

My point would be that it's IMHO better to thoroughly explore the old stuff before moving on to the new. That way you will not only realize that a lot of the modern stuff is derivative (which doesn't have to be a bad thing), but you will also have a better understanding of both the old and the new.

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you don't listen to what you like, you like what you listen to.. in my experience at least

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15 hours ago, Candiru said:

Oh I thought you meant balancing genres in your listening habits to cultivate a more stable state of mind. Like Beethoven one day, Huey Lewis And The News the next day. You know, so you don't go CRAZY

When I saw the thread title I thought OP meant listening to music in the left ear and right ear the same amount

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11 hours ago, Freak of the week said:

I used to go to Discogs, apply filters like "1980" and "electro" and then make the list of all the stuff that shows up. It was like a fucking tournament sort of. If some release passed the first listening test (meaning that it was particularly interesting to me) it would get a "+" sign next to it. Not many releases would pass the first test. Among those releases that passed the first test some eventually began sticking out over time and after many listenings.

What I have found out with this somewhat autistic approach is that most of my favourite stuff was made pre-21th century (honorable exceptions include of course stuff like Confield, Go Plastic and Editions Mego stuff - Tone, Hecker, Haswell...). There is of course the problem that it's physically impossible (or that it would just consume an insane amount of time) to keep the track of all the stuff that people are putting out nowadays - go to Discogs, apply filters like "electro" and "idm"  to different decades to see how the number of releases literally exploded. Not to mention the Bandcamp stuff. Even with this problem in mind I still have to admit that I have found very few modern releases which interest me - imho it's a combination of the fact that it's very hard to be original and creative nowadays and the fact that literally anyone can upload stuff online. Of course, you could say that most of the people don't care about originality and just make whatever they wanna make and that's just fine. But I like when people are trying out new or at least relatively new things and unconventional approaches, maybe it's just me.

My point would be that it's IMHO better to thoroughly explore the old stuff before moving on to the new. That way you will not only realize that a lot of the modern stuff is derivative (which doesn't have to be a bad thing), but you will also have a better understanding of both the old and the new.

eerily similar to me recently

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16 hours ago, Freak of the week said:

My point would be that it's IMHO better to thoroughly explore the old stuff before moving on to the new. That way you will not only realize that a lot of the modern stuff is derivative (which doesn't have to be a bad thing), but you will also have a better understanding of both the old and the new.

fully agree with this. diving into the past is underrated.

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, usagi said:

this is a weird angle to take when thinking about how diverse or not diverse your music tastes are. I'd expect something like this on WATMM though.

instead of worrying about how balanced your listening is in a strictly quantitative, empirical sense by recording how long/often you spend time listening to whatever kinds of music and analysing that, why not just dive into whatever piques your interest and get lost in that for however long you feel like? if you want to ensure diversity in your listening, whether it's period-wise or genre-wise, getting lost in numbers is not the key. imo the key is exploring, taking risks, developing a passion for new things outside your immediate preferences, and if you have an innate tendency like a lot of other music obsessives to trace influences back through history or investigate connections with other genres/scenes, then this happens naturally.

Oh yeah I mean I did that for plenty of years, and I still just do what I want.  The problem is, I want to do more things than I have time for.  Sometimes I know exactly what I want to listen to, but sometimes I'm open to plenty of experiences.  And I don't know if anyone else here really has this problem, but I am extremely susceptible to "visibility culture".  And so certain things have a better chance of coming out on top in the times where I'm not completely certain what I should listen to.

The attached chart shows the days between listens for things featuring Oren Ambarchi.  I listened to him relatively consistently from 2016-2018, but I wasn't really checking in with him at all for 2019.  The date that I put something on from him again was when his new album Simian Angel got announced. 

A lot of what I want to do gets influenced by things I hear from other people, it's not purely mine.  So if I left it all undisturbed, then I think my listening would be too heavily decided by what I read and the people I spend time with.  And I like that influence and benefit from it greatly, but it's nice to be able to identify it happening so that I can have time away from it too.

Days Passed Between Listening To Oren Ambarchi.png

Edited by taphead

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Freak of the week said:

What I have found out with this somewhat autistic approach is that most of my favourite stuff was made pre-21th century (honorable exceptions include of course stuff like Confield, Go Plastic and Editions Mego stuff - Tone, Hecker, Haswell...). There is of course the problem that it's physically impossible (or that it would just consume an insane amount of time) to keep the track of all the stuff that people are putting out nowadays - go to Discogs, apply filters like "electro" and "idm"  to different decades to see how the number of releases literally exploded. Not to mention the Bandcamp stuff. Even with this problem in mind I still have to admit that I have found very few modern releases which interest me - imho it's a combination of the fact that it's very hard to be original and creative nowadays and the fact that literally anyone can upload stuff online. Of course, you could say that most of the people don't care about originality and just make whatever they wanna make and that's just fine. But I like when people are trying out new or at least relatively new things and unconventional approaches, maybe it's just me.

My point would be that it's IMHO better to thoroughly explore the old stuff before moving on to the new. That way you will not only realize that a lot of the modern stuff is derivative (which doesn't have to be a bad thing), but you will also have a better understanding of both the old and the new.

Personally I think there's plenty of fresh things happening, like Bhob Rainey writes on this page about how on his really great album from last year that is fully streamable on bandcamp now, he used sonification of data from NASA about times that meteors or other large objects came close to hitting earth cross-referenced with natural disaster data from FEMA, and the more artistic work it take to make this something that was musically interesting.  It probably bears some similarity to the sound object WDR musique concrete type of stuff, but I think it brings a lot to the table.

And I do think there's a specific benefit to listening to music in the moment it exists, a unique opportunity to make sense of the music alongside contemporary events.  Felicia Atkinson's approach to fidelity in her vocal recordings is more significant to me than it would be if I were encountering it as an object of the past, because I've seen the sort of prosumer equipment being used and encountered the noises in annoying contexts, and so there's something I find special about them being turned musical.  So I do think it's worth having a connection with what's currently happening while the exploration of the past continues.  Though I was really de-emphasising the past before, I am getting better about that though, this attached chart breaks down my listens by year into 3 categories, contemporary albums that came out that year, albums from previous years that I'd never heard, and albums that I went into the year having already heard.  And I'm putting more emphasis on discoveries from the past and things I'm already familiar with, which is good.  It also shows that I've spent over a third of my time since 2016 listening to things from the current year.  If I really wanted to keep things balanced completely, I'd probably be looking at dialing that back much, much further.  But I can do that when it stops being so interesting to me.

Listen & Relisten Focus.png

Edited by taphead

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@taphead again with the visibility problem, I think you can get around that by just following your nose really. it's also less of a problem with older stuff than new stuff because it's less clogged with hype and noise, although you could argue that maybe some artists are historically not given the rep and stature they deserve over others who commanded more attention at the time. either way, if you dig you will find, I find. 

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Hey @taphead, while I applaud the principle of your endeavor, I do have to ask: did you enter all that data by hand (I sure hope not) or did you scrape some sort of API, and, if so, which?

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11 hours ago, taphead said:

Personally I think there's plenty of fresh things happening, like Bhob Rainey writes on this page about how on his really great album from last year that is fully streamable on bandcamp now, he used sonification of data from NASA about times that meteors or other large objects came close to hitting earth cross-referenced with natural disaster data from FEMA, and the more artistic work it take to make this something that was musically interesting.  It probably bears some similarity to the sound object WDR musique concrete type of stuff, but I think it brings a lot to the table.

I am familiar with the astronomical data sonification and the sonification stuff in general, but it's cool that you've mentioned this. Speaking of the contemporary stuff, Eduardo Miranda is IMHO one of the guys who are truly pushing the boundaries: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=eduardo+reck+miranda&btnG=&oq=eduardo+

 

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@usagi I'm not sure what it is you think I'm doing, but it seems like you have an inaccurate picture.  I do plenty of digging and following of my nose, and I spent a pretty long time doing all that without this supplemental visibility into how I'm actually spending my time.  I'm sure this wouldn't be desired for everyone, but I've found it very beneficial to see what I'm doing.

@rhmilo It's not entirely by hand, but I listen to stuff across mediums and stuff and so for accurate tracking, I put in the album name, date, and new listen flags by hand.  And then when something is new I have to put in an album artist and release decade and year.  But like with copy and paste a lot of that stuff goes really quick.

@Freak of the week Oh hey that guy looks interesting, but does he not have any recorded music aside from that one compilation appearance?

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@taphead yeah I probably do, I don't know your listening habits from posting this data really, just pointing out what I've experienced.

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