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Thread: Multi-Tasking?

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Multi-Tasking?

    Haabrann: "I love to read about music while listening to it."
    Larkenfield: "One of the great pleasures in life."
    From another thread.

    I cannot multitask thusly. While I can walk and chew gum at the same time, I have found over the years that I cannot fully (maybe the key word is "fully") engage in music while doing something else that is close to equally demanding. My most close bond with music is headphones on, in a darkened room, eyes closed, though an exception is watching/listening in concert or via YouTube. But even then, my concentration on the music is not as complete. But perhaps those I have quoted above are discussing a more general period wherein they alternate periods of listening to and reading about music---I don't know. Or maybe they can multitask effectively, in which case I do envy them and anyone else so constituted and able. Comments?

    An old topic, but newly retriggered...

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    In my case, it is not really a case of multitasking.

    When listening to a piece for the first time, or if I have a specific goal with the listening (for example comparing recordings and such), I have to listen exclusively.

    But for example yesterday I was reading about HIP and came across the famed Adorno essay ''Bach defended against his devotees''. Then I put on a Gardiner Bach recording while reading. And then I pick up something from that essay I want to investigate further, I'm finding myself reading about harpsichord evolution, types, construction and playing. While listening to Bach on the stereo, on the sofa with the Ipad in hand, having a great time.

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    I can read non-fiction on non-musical topics, write creatively, or do physical tasks while listening, but anything that requires my high concentration gets disturbed by random musical insights.

    John Williams said once that he cannot drive a car and listen to music at the same time, or else he would crash into a tree. I can fully empathize with that.

    While concentrating hard, I usually tend to have some sort of ear-worm music piece playing whole the time in my head in the background. Possibly it's an automatic response aimed at drowning the noise of the surroundings.
    Last edited by Fabulin; Oct-10-2019 at 13:31.

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    Be totally absorbing and appreciating a piece of music - just as if one were only concentrating on it - whilst reading? Really? Surely, one impinges the other?

    Having said that, I know Strauss (Richard) could and did sometimes compose music whilst conducting another work.

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Depends on the type of music and how familiar I am with it. When I was in college, I used to study for exams and listen to familiar Mozart or Morricone CD's I had at the same time, I was allocating about 10% of my attention or processing memory to the listening. The latest CD I bought which is of Rawsthorne's Symphonies, and which I never listened to before and aren't as easy to follow as Mozart or Morricone, I would surf the net with it on, and very little got through to me, at 10% of attention. I'm relistening to Rawsthorne at this moment, but devoting around 50% attention, and I think I'm getting it as if I was listening to it without doing other stuff.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member WildThing's Avatar
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    Listening to music while reading: No way, no how. I learned long ago that if I try to listen to music while reading, studying, or doing something that demands some mental effort the music will either simply become background noise or might actually become quite annoying and distruptive to my concentration, especially in the case of opera or music with large dynanmic contrasts.

    Listening to music while driving, cleaning, cooking, etc.: I find this quite pleasant and enjoyable, but as Phil says, how familiar I am with the music makes a big difference. If I try listening to a piece that is entirely new to me while multi-tasking, I find that most of it goes right over my head and that I retain very little of it. But if its a work or recording I'm familiar with then it totally enhances the activity Im engaged in.
    Last edited by WildThing; Oct-10-2019 at 15:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    . But if its a work or recording I'm familiar with then it totally enhances the activity Im engaged in.
    I'm at a point where I'm so busy, I can't devote a lot of time to intense, concentrated listening, which is frustrating. I've even thought of giving classical music up and going back to listening to three- to five-minute songs. Right now, like you, I am mostly collecting different interpretations of pieces I'm already familiar with. That doesn't require as much concentration as tackling someone like Ferneyhough, and I can do other things while they're playing.

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    In general, if I want to listen to something then that's the only thing I can do. Trying to simultaneously read, watch TV, or any other activity that takes brain power shuttles the music to the background and I just hear it, not really listen. Depends on the music, too. When I clean house, do other chores and whatnot, I find some things like Tchaikovsky ballets, that Naxos Light British Composers series, and Joplin rags are great, But things like symphonies, opera, and concertos demand my brain's total attention. When driving, it's old country/western or '60s pop or Glazunov symphonies.

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    There are some pieces of music that still remind me of the book I was reading when I was first listening to them (as a child). The music enriched the reading - but I'm not sure the reading enriched the music for me.

    Anyway, I never have a problem listening to music while reading or driving or anything else really. But my thinking style and my listening style do both rely on zoning in and out. That's the way I'm made and I am more than happy with the results! I am not a great believer in concentrating on a piece while it is playing but that hasn't stopped me getting to know a very large amount of music (to the extent of being able to hum along if I wanted to). I do probably rely on hearing something several times before I know it.

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    I do not get much satisfaction from combining music listening with another activity. I get distracted, something in the music catches my attention, I get the feeling that I've missed the context. It causes a feeling of frustration. The exception is that sometimes listening to a new piece of music my attention will wander and I will loose the thread, thinking of something else. Then it is sometimes useful to listen to the piece through, even though I feel adrift, or that I am not getting it, just to have a roadmap of the piece in my mind when I subsequently listen with (hopefully) better attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    Then it is sometimes useful to listen to the piece through, even though I feel adrift, or that I am not getting it, just to have a roadmap of the piece in my mind when I subsequently listen with (hopefully) better attention.
    I've done that several times with a new piece; listened casually three or four times, then sat down and intensely focused on it. It has helped me fit the overall picture with the individual details.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    As one ages, so I am told, insomnia becomes more likely, more prevalent. It has become so with me but I find it an almost unmixed blessing in that I am retired and need not concern myself with getting "enough" sleep to perform next day adequately at work. So my nightly bouts with insomnia often find me, headphones on, fully engaged with music--old and new (but mostly old). The focus of a relaxed unworried sleeplessness allows me to find new pleasures even among and within pieces I've heard numberless times, making the old to a certain extent new again. I wish this blessing, though, only on those in a position like me to profit from it; the toll of sleeplessness on working people can be severe, as I know from personal experience.

    On the non-concentrative aspects of music, I love Rock and Pop, loud, while driving--can be marvelous on a sunny day on a hill-and-dale road, swooping along--a pleasure completely unknown to even the most self-indulgent aesthetes of, say, 200 years ago. We do have Handel's several wonderful efforts for his George by water and otherwise, but not the same thing. For puttering about the house, multi-disk compilations--of Haydn symphonies, Respighian Ancient Music, or Rimsky-Korsakov's operatic suites and orchestral pieces--serve quite well.

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    Senior Member Room2201974's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    From another thread.

    I cannot multitask thusly. While I can walk and chew gum at the same time, I have found over the years that I cannot fully (maybe the key word is "fully") engage in music while doing something else that is close to equally demanding. My most close bond with music is headphones on, in a darkened room, eyes closed, though an exception is watching/listening in concert or via YouTube. But even then, my concentration on the music is not as complete. But perhaps those I have quoted above are discussing a more general period wherein they alternate periods of listening to and reading about music---I don't know. Or maybe they can multitask effectively, in which case I do envy them and anyone else so constituted and able. Comments?

    An old topic, but newly retriggered...
    "How can you hit and think at the same time?" ~ Yogi Berra

    However, you can watch a game and eat a hotdog at the same time in Yogi Berra Stadium.

    Effectively trying to concentrate on another matter and give full attention to music means you'll get half the music and do a crappy job on the other task. Serious listening for me means headphones, eyes closed, and no self created distractions.
    "He who makes songs without feeling spoils both his words and his music. " ~ Guillaume de Machaut

    "Music that is born complex is not inherently better or worse than music that is born simple." ~ Aaron Copland.

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    I have found over the years that I cannot fully (maybe the key word is "fully") engage in music while doing something else that is close to equally demanding.

    I think your final two words are the definer here. I find I can drive the car and listen to a lot of music that is not too demanding but I could never drive and concentrate on the intricacies of an opera, oratorio or a complex symphony simultaneously.

    I work out at home using hand weights and stretch bands to all manner of music and have no problem doing both. Of course the only competition to the music is counting strokes or lifts or whatever. I may get lost in that if I concentrate too hard on the music.

    The old cliché is that classical music is meant to be heard and is not dinner music. Mozart wrote a lot of music for royal parties that is somewhat intricate though I doubt the royals paid much attention to it while dining.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    I often listen while doing other things. I call this 'indirect' or 'subconscious' listening, for while my conscious mind may be focused on one thing, I believe the subconscious hears everything else in the background and this can sometimes be an advantage because it has the ability to get an accurate impression of the whole performance. Then I know what I wish to hear again. Not everything has to be taken in consciously the first time; with recordings, there's always the second chance. I see nothing wrong with this and sometimes it's possible to be doing more than one thing at a time. In fact, it's possible that two simultaneous activities can enhance each other. There's more than one way to take something in because there are different dimensions to the mind and consciousness.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-10-2019 at 19:42.
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