Music is everywhere, in this day and age. Movies and TV shows have background music to set the mood, and it's trivial to put on a radio, or a media player, or on the computer, and have music in the background for whatever you do. Commuters on the train invariably have headphones on, driving in the car there's always music - even shops pump out music in the background as you shop. Music is everywhere!
In spite of this, or I think even because of the modern music culture, I find it really hard to just listen to music. I love music, and yet if I settle down in a comfy chair with my nice audio system, I feel out of place, and somewhat guilty. Sitting there, I get the urge that I should be doing something, as if listening isn't doing anything. I must grab the laptop and web browse, or read a book, or just abandon listening and go browse lolcats.
Why in our psyche does sitting at a PC trawling the internet for amusement seem more productive than dedicating the whole of our self to listening to music?
Even menial tasks are sufficient excuse to "listen" to music. Driving the car, or catching a train, it's effortless and obvious to put on some music. It's ok, we're being productive - we're travelling somewhere! So why can't I just listen? Why do I have to be doing something else?
Of course, there's ways of appreciating a dedication to music - concerts are very popular - but even they have a strong visual performance aspect. It's not just the music, but the light-show, or the crush of bodies on the dance floor. It's entertainment, but the music is just a part of it (and in some concerts, clearly not the main part).
On the week-end, I listened to some music. It actually took quite a bit of will-power, a conscious decision to do nothing but listen. Outside was gloriously sunny, and I nestled under a blanket in the dark theatre, and cranked it up. The TV was blank, aside from a brief display of track information at the start of each track. I listened to Stupid Dream, by Porcupine Tree - a DTS surround mix no less. The sound enveloped me, and I was transported.
As creatures bombarded by visual stimulus, if there's nothing to watch, we're a little lost. Closing my eyes, my body's natural reaction was to fall asleep. I was focussed on the music, though, and so while a few times my body felt like it slipped asleep, my mind entered a lucid state where the music filled it. I was lost with nothing but the sound, and my own thoughts filling my mind. I've felt this before - typically dozing on a bus. You nod off to sleep, yet you can't escape the music, so it fills your mind and shapes your thoughts.
It was wonderful!
I need to listen to more music.
I need a comfier chair in the home theatre.