What makes you start listening to a new piece of music? | Coursera Community

What makes you start listening to a new piece of music?

  • 13 October 2020
  • 22 replies

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Hi everyone. Here's a question I've been asking myself for a while and I'd love to know what it is like with you. The question is in fact twofold.
First: how hard is it for you to start listening to something absolutely new?
And second: if you are not the kind of person who is ready to listen to anything anytime, then what makes you start listening to something? And what makes it likely for you to listen to it till the end?

In my case, it is very hard to start listening to something new. I'm definitely not the kind of person who asks friends for some new nice tracks to listen to (what if they seem to me boring and I don't like them at all!).
What makes me still overcome this barrier is the following:
Chance. I just heard something accidentally and liked it very much.
Context. I read or heard something interesting about a certain piece (for instance, about its history or composition) and it made me curious.
Personal attitude. A piece was mentioned by somebody in a way that may be revealing in terms of their personality. If I'm interested in better understanding this person, I'm likely to try and listen to this piece.
Reputation. I already know some other pieces by the same author or from the same source and I like them. So I may consider listening to something new from the same source.

So, what about you?

22 replies

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I think your brief description has all the elements.

I tend to habits, and I ashame of myself while I have the world under my fingers. I’m fond of Anthropology and a “search-key Serendipity” helps a lot while exploring videos. Radio tuning also is a good source of new tracks. Falling in love with someone is definitely the way to share interests.  



@ansakoy interesting question.

I love listening to new music and like getting recommends from others. Yes, sometimes I don’t like the new piece, but just as often I do.

I also like getting recommends of who the artists I listen to are listening to, who inspires (or inspired) them.

I have also bought albums, unheard, because the match engine on the site I am shopping keeps coming up with an “if you like X, you will like Y” recommendation, although I do try to stream them a time or two anymore before buying.

I have a number of favorite artists out there, and I get quite excited when I hear that they are releasing new music.

I will usually listen all the way through several times before deciding how I like it.

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for me its depend on my mood. sometimes i cant make contact with some songs in the moment. but maybe later that time i really enjoy it!

you know music is all about the feelings :)

but if im not in the mood of some songs or somebody play it for me or want me to listen to it i just listen to the song with technic side if you know what is mean

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Most of what you've said. I mostly accidently stumble across some tracks I like. Usually I'll only look out for something new, when I'm maybe kinda bored of my old playlist. Honestly, I don't ask friends for recommendations because their taste never matches mine, except for a few who listen to the kinda music I do. Spotify at times does a good job at recommending new similar music based on what I listen to and the artists I hear. But usually out of that too, it's maybe one song in that list that actually catches my ear. I usually just stick to my pre-made playlists most of the time. 

Very thoughtful question. I like what I like and am very quick to reject music I don’t like right away. For example, I find most electronic music annoying because it’s not played by a musician but by a machine. If someone asks me to listen to such a piece I will listen for 5 seconds and turn it off. I also don’t appreciate very loud rock music...or jazz that sounds too frantic or romantic music. I won’t even give these a chance. This is making me feel so narrow-minded! 
But I love a good song played and sang well, suggested by NPR radio or a person whose musical tastes I trust. I love folk music with meaningful lyrics and catchy melodies, easy to sing.

This forum has been good for me. I feel the responsibility of listening to every piece someone has posted, especially those that are original. In some cases, I have surprised myself by enjoying what I have heard. So, I’m not as hopeless as I thought. Would I go out of my way to listen to some of this music? No. But I appreciate having the opportunity to hear some of what people have posted. As a music teacher, students would often bring in a piece of music they loved and want me to listen to . Sometimes, those would be torturous to hear. But the student would be beaming with pleasure and love, so I listened. Being placed in a position where you have to listen to something new can turn out  to surprise you. So….please check out the music in these forums and see if you can surprise yourself by liking something new.😀


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because it’s not played by a musician but by a machine. 

It’s not played by a machine. Everything else from a chamber orchestra makes its way through copper and sliders. 

The main difference I feel is in intentions and sensitivity, other than in the song itself. I can grab and stick together ready-made sequences for a quick trick, or I can enjoy the art of creation as per se. So, electronic tools can help me model natural sounds as plastic, or use music as a form of Creative Coding, for eg. see https://ojack.xyz/PIXELSYNTH/  

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@ATP @Halla @mohamadreza_kazemian @kellyfdes @Judith thanks for your responses! They all are very interesting and rather revealing. For instance, I used to think that my musical conservatism is some unfortunate peculiarity, but now I see that it is not so rare.

@ATP I see, well, your disposition is fairly similar to mine, only even listening to the radio is a bit too much for me :) Rather some autogenerated YouTube playlists sometimes suddenly manage to come up with a match, when I happen to be slow enough to switch off autoplay after my chosen track finished.

@Halla looks like you are a person with a considerable listener's experience, judging by this repetitive listening habit that helps you decide whether you like a piece.

@mohamadreza_kazemian interesting. To me, music may be somewhat about feelings, but in quite the opposite way: first I like it or not, and then, if I do like it, I will like it in any mood, but its perception may be different. By the way, I still sometimes listen to your Man in the Mirror track :)

@kellyfdes yes, very much like my case. By the way, when does this 'catching your ear' happen? I mean, is it that you just start listening and just stop, if the beginning is not impressive? Or do you usually listen till the end to make sure you haven't missed something important?

@Judith ah yes, as to electronic music. I've been even considering starting a discussion on the matter. Briefly, I can say that the more I'm exploring this artificial sound area the more I realize that this opposition of a machine vs. human is not exactly the correct one, because with a machine performance this machine or software is the instrument played by a human. So the difference between electronic music and live performance now looks to me more like a difference between a movie (or an animated cartoon) and a theatrical performance.
As to the forum, yes, here I'm also much more motivated to listen to what people share than elsewhere. To me, it's the context that makes pretty much any piece worth listening to.

@ATP , @ansakoy , I admit to knowing little about electronic music. It would be most illuminating to start a thread about it. It has become very popular. As an instrumentalist, I have surrounded myself with people, who like myself, have spent hours practicing to play well. To watch someone play an instrument and know how many hours of practice it took to play a piece is so special. To have that person play with others is also special. To experience playing music with other musicians is an incredible experience. How can an electronic machine duplicate this? I realize it’s different, the way an animated person cannot truly emote the way a human can. And the interactions are all planned, nothing improvised or caused by the situation. Whenever I have heard something electronic, I haven’t been able to experience the kind of emotional satisfaction that music created by musicians evokes. So I definitely am prejudiced when it comes to this form of music.

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@ansakoy  - Well, if you want a rose to give flowers, you must cut branches. I mean, having troubles at finding one's own dimension is a blessing. That's why I always search for more, and there is a lot of streaming tv and radios available, along with international lyrics translations that is perhaps the only site I would keep if I had to decide. For eg. I'm trying to get accustomed to Russian by watching russian TV's and I love when at bed my ears keep on blending russian sounds. Sometimes it also happens with music.

@Judith  - Sorry. I definitely understand your point of view. I simply refuse to deal with digital painting even if I try to, and feel such a strong bias towards digital drawings. Nonetheless, tablet drawing doesn't make life easier. Moreover, I can't imagine a world without 3D CAD and 3D Printing as a way to make customized objects, because I'm more into sculpture. 

It's perhaps just a matter of the way we approach something. This made the pedagogist Ausubel implement a technique about "triggering" a specific approach, rather than trying to learn things in a neutral way. Bias is good!

@ATP , why is bias good?

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@Judith  That's very simple. 

Because there's a huge huge difference between approaching some knowledge in an extensive way, with the idea of having to learn it as a whole, which causes: having no clue of what we are doing it for, or at least, being guided by a dream far far away (that helps us overcome this lack of self organization), and best of best, having it difficoult to remember what we studied just because there is no hook in our head to hang it on apart from an illusion of self realization. The most common form of self-motivating narcissism. 

This translates into being the skill identified in a certain book. If I study book-1, and then book-2 (etc) then I'll be skilled in that field. This is not being skilled but in piling up theory.

2) And approaching things having a concrete project in mind. This is more selective, opportunistically looting of libraries with no need to fixation on the source but aimed at exploring the many ways our problem can be developed. 

This happens when people has luckily kept the child attitude to create simulations, which school tends to dissolve in the name of basic skills, but forgetting that everyone is ALREADY different --not hopely one day -- causing people to lack of strategic skills (which IMHO are the only that count?) sometimes carrying on that hidden little "I wish I was" for all life long.  

Dewey said it good, but Ausubel let me say, got the point: No project, no learn.


Relating this to the thread, when the focus is on the travel, we're more keen on catching details, when the focus is on the carrot we (convinced ourselves that we) want to eat, we're almost blind to life, and new music, and falling in love (and exchanging music :P) 

@ATP , you give us much to think about...


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@Judith - I just took an advantage of. Bias is a generalization which doesn’t necessarily match with facts: sometimes it’s a vital affair (if I burn myself with fire, then all fires burn), sometimes it’s a mistaken conclusion.

Being “information-selective” (as for a project-oriented approach) is not the same thing of generalization, but somehow it crosses the same path of being “narrow-minded”.

In this sense, it’s just a matter of being “gradual” since most of times we need a nucleus to build onto -- we can’t do all the big thing in just once. 

So the key is having a comprehension of a small quantity, then I will be ready for more. Maybe some music would sound different when I can see what I previously could not. I personally say that God is in the void -- an infinite search of comprehension.

What do you think of alien music? what earthling author or genre is most similar to? 

@ATP ! Alien music...such as outer space sounds?  Examples?

It’s so special that there is music for everyone. There are so many different types of genres and so many different types of music. Everyone can find something they enjoy and that speaks to them.

I wish I could say that the more I know about some music the more I enjoy it. It’s not as though I am close minded about listening to everything, but I definitely know what I like and don’t like. I think everyone does. What’s most important is that we are excepting of what other people enjoy and don’t put it down. I wish I could appreciate everyone’s music, but there will be someone here in the community that well. This is what makes it special.

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@Judith So many kinds: genres also tend to form hybrids like border/ nomadic people tend to speak mixed languages. Once I was banned from a music Fb group because I pointed out what it seemed to me a hateful meme; I thought music could only join people, but maybe they simply don’t know how much they listen to, of what they are supposed to be against to. 

Talking about aliens, there is a nice sub-genre called Space Ambient which deals with deep space suggestions. However, I wanted to say, do you know that we attached a “Golden Disk” on the space probe Voyager with our music? If we instead were the ones to catch music from space, would we recognize that as such? What genre among their many? What is the criterion?

That also makes me think, backround music in shops is always wonderful, don’t you think? I love House music in fashion stores, and there’s always a couple of tracks I can’t identify from a DIY store. So the lesson is, Background music is the only genre I listen to 

@ATP ,there have been times when a tune is so catchy you find yourself singing it, until you realize what the words mean. when you listen to a song, you can’t forget that the lyrics are as important as the music. And yet, we often do. Sometimes it’s the opposite though. You’ll think the lyrics are really excellent but the music is flat. That’s why great songs are so difficult to find.

I remember reading that music was included on the Voyager and also wondered what music was included. How can you choose?              But, there is a Hall of Fame for music and there are Grammy awards so some excellence criteria  have been established.

Background music can either enhance or annoy my shopping pleasure. I once went to a physical therapist who loved heavy metal music. I had to be honest and say unless the music was changed I wouldn’t  go back there. I am someone who always notices background music. In keeping with this thread theme you could say that you listen to a new piece of music when it was playing in your doctors office, or at your physical therapist, or in your shopping mall. And maybe, if you were there enough times, you grew to enjoy it. 

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@Judith Most of times I have the impression I can't split lyrics away from the song. Once it runs in the ears, it's one only, especially when words are tailored to a specific rhythm -- just think to rap.  

I'm mostly used to instrumental music though, and I had an embarassing doubt as one of my fav tracks is “Dunkelheit” by Burzum, an ill-tempered guy who pretends to show criminal behaviour from time to time, and I can't really figure out that music to represent racism. So I preferred to insult him rather than rejecting my tastes on his music.

I don't think the Hall of Fame asked an opinion to aliens, did they? Do you think aliens would catch the difference between Bach and Techno music? (Lord, how bigot these humans be!)

Well, strangely enough I'm fine with heavy Metal in the background, but I'm not fine with working in a place where the same music is played recursively by a mainstream radio. My car stereo is tuned on a specific radio where they really care to music and I often share their tracks through my FB profile. 

Though, chance wants I can fall in love with anything from anywhere, so I'm still trying to remember the words of a foreign song that I heard in a shopping mall. Feel stupid.

The fact is that it's a famous hit from the 80's but who knows why, I could appreciate it melody only in that situation.

it said "you don't ... " something

@ATP it’s interesting to note how people listen to music. I focus on the melody when I listen to a song and have been surprised to find what the words are. I walk away humming a melody. Many vocalists don’t enunciate well so the words get mottled. I enjoy beautiful melodies which is why I don’t always appreciate music without one.

I have never heard of Burzum...should I listen to him?

I wouldn’t want to meet any alien who couldn’t appreciate Bach! But it’s something to think about...what would our music sound like to an alien? What if you were deaf and could suddenly hear? What music would appeal to you? Would our classics like the Beatles sound as amazing to you or has music been popular because of the time period it was in?

Music trivia intrigues me…..wish I could help you figure out that song...there’s one from the move The 3 Wives Club” with Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn singing “You Don’t Own Me Anymore”...Could this be the song? ( I edited  this because I had to look it up, had forgotten the names of the 3 women)

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I think the heartbeat is the music which deaf people would understand anyway. It’s the most ancestral kind of instrumental music I think. Have you ever heard about the book “Le Dieu d’Eau” by Marcel Griaule? it tells about the Dogon ethnic group, Mali (West Africa) who received the complex and social rules of drum music from an alien called Nommo. This people also knew before astronomy confirmed it, that the star Sirius was actually made of two stars -- that was where the alien came from.

So we could guess aliens love african drums at least? Astronomers captured the sound of two black holes merging: as they got closer and spinned faster, they could produce rhythmic vibrations just like drums. What’s more universal than the heartbeat? 

Ehm no it’s not that kind of music -- it was way between the Tears for Fears and the Talking Heads or maybe the Depeche Mode. It had a peculiar off-tempo fluctuating melody. Just wanted to listen it again. Famous song.   

I’m very sensitive to ASMR, though soft voice irritates me. I prefer objects* . There’s a lot of people sharing Diesel engine videos*. I always found them to be so lyric. Hair-dryers make me sleepy. However, sometimes I love to listen to courses or to interviews just cause I like the speaker’s voice.  @Judith 

@ATP , this is fascinating! Thank you for sharing information about the Dogon people. For years, I have been interested in Native American music. It used to annoy me that the drumbeats were always the same. I thought it sounded repetitive and boring, until I read about it and learned that the drum represented Mother Earth’s heartbeat. The strong/weak beats that seemed boring, suddenly took on a new meaning. Ceremonies revolved around the heartbeat of the earth. This is another good example of how learning about music can give you a new understanding and create a desire to listen further.
Aliens might be here amongst us , creating new music for us always. 😀

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@Judith - They used it to enter a trance dimension, usually in shamanic religions it's the way to adhore the deity. New Age tried to inherit this mind, which maybe the modern electronic music also tries to mimic. If you need a good insight on extraterrestrial life hypothesis, you could watch something from Isaac Arthur *: It's really hard for me to follow along it, try if you can!

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@Judith  In love of trivia requests, is that you maybe remember a track with these features:
-- voice refrain "Aaaah.. ee-ah" + afro-samba refrain
I seem it also had a weird video with a sketch-man interacting with reality
Sometimes I hear out of nowhere these 80's hits but Google assistant dosnt help if you sing!
(Sorry your out of tune man)