Monday, March 23, 2015

Pay Attention!

What do you do while you listen to music?

I don't doubt that some of you will find this question redundant. Perhaps you are able to simply sit still and listen to an album from start to finish without any other distractions or diversions. If so, congratulations - you're made of stronger stuff than me.

Personally, I get kind of restless when I'm not doing anything else, and so the majority of my listening is done in conjunction with some other activity, such as...
  • Browsing the internet
  • Washing dishes
  • Driving
  • Writing
The only time I'm really able to do nothing but listen is when I'm in bed, and even then, I'm usually trying to get to sleep instead of 100% committing to the music that's playing.
But is it impossible to pay proper attention to an album while you're doing something else? I don't think so. The trick, I've found, is to find something that keeps you busy without using up much brainpower.

For me, that something is Tetris. I've been a Tetris addict since sixth form (i.e. about seven years ago), and it's been a long time since I really had to use my brain while playing it - I'm so familiar with the different shapes and how they all fit together that I can pretty much do it automatically at this point. Firing up a game of Tetris is akin to putting myself on autopilot.

But here's the crucial thing: it keeps my hands busy and gives my eyes something fun to look at while my ears are busy listening to their favourite tunes. This trick is particularly useful if I'm supposed to be reviewing an album; playing Tetris allows me to pay attention to the music and lyrics, and because I'm concentrating (albeit in a low-level, brain-stemmy sort of a way) on all those falling blocks, my mind doesn't wander away from the matter at hand.

So let's hear it for Tetris, without which I'd find it far more difficult to write all of these blog posts.

Flap! are a jazz band from Melbourne, Australia. They're well worth your time, and not just because they have a song about Tetris.

That's my solution, anyway. What do you do while you listen to music?

1 comment:

  1. Hardly a redundant question to me, Joel.

    I find music very help for focusing. Of course, when I'm not careful, I completely lose track of what I should have been doing, and instead start surfing the web for articles and information related to the music I'm listening to.

    Gaming is definitely terrific for zoning into music. Puzzles games, such as Lumines and your own favourite, Tetris, are perfect for that. But I also adore the thrill of listening to music with playing racing games - Wipeout HD's electro-dub soundtrack added some much to the game's futuristic experience, while Burnout 3 and Revenge turned me on to me plenty of new rock bands for driving playlists.

    During Cooking, exercising indoors and out, and, as you mention, the moments before sleeping are the only times I actively get myself into a state of listening without other distractions.

    I do have fondness for this Sonos advert with Questlove, but its tagline ('Listening is back') also sums my feelings about having the chance to just sit and listen. I'd like to do more of that as soon as possible, really.