My take on Listening vs. Producing Sound

I’m sure many longterm musicians may have little recollection of the difference between listening to music, and producing it. In my case, this distinction has been a recent epiphany. An epiphany because I wasn’t really aware of the distinction.

I’ve always wanted to produce music. About 15 years ago when I was living in Chicago I cashed in a precious bonus check and spent about $1200 bucks on the Acid Pro software suite. However, what I didn’t realize then, was that I would have to build out a very specialized computer because it was around 1998. I wasn’t able to put that together, and the software fell into the dustbin along with my music-making impetus. Thinking back to that time, I remember I actually was drawn to Chicago for its club scene. Crobar, Goth clubs.. I was into it all. Being from Ohio, choices for electronica were then, as now, sadly lacking. I fell in love with electronica when I was studying abroad as an undergrad. I visited Amsterdam and had an otherworldly experience at some dance club that I remember had the distinction of being next to the police station. The music was incredible, and along the way home we got lost and ended up in Dam Square where a giant carousel was blasting techno. I came back to the states with several awful techno compilations that I listened to repeatedly. I’ve been hooked since.

Now, getting back to this distinction between listening to sound and producing it. Now, of course you tend to listen with greater attention and the like. But what surprised me was that, upon synthesizing or creating my own sounds, is how much I enjoy listening to them. When you create a sound you’re happy with, you can, and pretty much have to listen to it – over and over. If you don’t like what you hear, the listening gets old, quick. But wow, whether it’s starting with a blank slate and synthesizing from the ground up, or taking some preset and turning it so far from its original sound that it becomes your own – is what I’m enjoying about producing sounds. I think it’s therapeutic, it’s probably profoundly connected to our electro-chemical compositions – our individual and experiential sound.

Given the ease of production now – when I think back to my abandoned musical endeavor I mentioned above, well I’m just glad I am having the experience now. And if I were reading this at age 3 or above – I’d download an array of apps, and make discovering your own sounds a lifetime experience.

Or as Socrates might say:

Listen to thyself

Categories: Featured, Music Production

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