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In praise of - listening.

HARKEN!

Yes, a wee word in praise of listening. We don't do it as much as we used to. I'm thinking of music in particular. It has moved so much into the background that we rarely focus on it now.

I witter thus after reading an eloquent letter from an older gentleman in a prog rock mag. He was lamenting the days of vinyl, not just for the material and its alleged superiority in conveying sound, but for the whole process of taking out an album and sitting down to listen to it.

The big artwork of LPs gave you something to look at as you listened. In a sense, it helped you to focus on the listening. It was part of the whole experience.

Today, with downloads and even CDs with packages in tiny print, it seems harder to focus on the music. You put it on and do something totally different that distracts your attention.

We're all multi-tasking noo, and can't just bask exclusively in Beethoven, Beiderbecke or even yonder Beatles.

It's the same at rock and pop concerts. The audience, particularly at the back near the bar, gabs all through the performance. They bought the T-shirt but they're disrespectful to the artists.

Sometimes, the bands themselves don't help. "Let's hear you make some noise!" they shout. And I think: "Er, no. That's what I paid you for. I'm here to listen." As for those that exhort you to dance, if I could clamber up on stage, it would be to make a citizen's arrest. Why won't they just let us listen, preferably from a seated position?

Possibly, listening is going the way of reading: we don't have time for it nowadays. But we should make time. Clear the decks, perhaps put on headphones, and give your ears a treat.

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