Friday 31 December 2010

What Happened To The Ears!

I’ve been meaning to write this little postscript for quite some time – since July in fact. As it’s now the end of December 2010, I thought I would finally cross “Write Ears Closing Post” off my jobs list by typing just a little something by way of reviewing the project.

First, let me say that the blog will stay up and available for browsing should anyone be the slightest bit interested. Just because the year I set myself (from birthday to birthday 2009-2010) is completed, doesn’t mean I’ll be taking it down. I had meant to continue posting when I attended a concert, opera, gig or had another significant musical experience, but, as happens with these things, life overtook me somewhat – things changed and priorities altered, so the last “proper” Ears post will remain as July 10th 2010.

Who knows whether there will be future posts about listening. Perhaps priorities will change AGAIN, and I’ll have the time to devote to writing about my listening habits once more? We’ll all just have to wait and see.

So, to the results of the project – first, and most obvious, I now have a listening diary for a whole year! I’ve certainly never done anything like that either before or since. I’m not really very good at keeping diaries (I’m one of the “bad girls” who doesn’t have time ;-)), but I managed this one, just.

Secondly, the project DEFINITELY altered my listening habits throughout the year. It made me more aware of what I was listening to, more aware that I should try to listen to music that was interesting for people to read about, and led me to rediscover parts of my CD collection that had been gathering dust for years.

At first, this was all very new and exciting, and I kept dozens of post-it notes with the music I’d been listening to, all stacked up neatly ready to type up each evening. If I was at home I piled up the CDs by my desk, ready to type straight from the CD covers, and when I listened to music in the car I kept a note of what I’d heard religiously. It also helped spur me on to little listening projects, such as “listening to nine ninth symphonies on 09-09-09”, an idea suggested on Twitter by @DrGeoduck.

There was also a side project, set up by the people at #elevensestime on Twitter: a Spotify playlist of some of the music I listened to. I have to confess I was unable to keep up with maintaining the list – I simply didn’t have time, and I’m not really anything more than an occasional Spotify user – partly because my listening habits are not conducive to a programme I can only get on my computer and listen to through little speakers, partly because the repertoire is limited to somebody else’s taste there, and partly because I know how little money performers and artists make from the music available there. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think I shall always enjoy having a PHYSICAL copy of the music. I love my CD collection (and also the large cassette and record (both 33s and 78s) collections I still have) and I love the freedom of being able to listen to it anywhere I go.

However, as the months wore on, there were also some NEGATIVE effects. I’d occasionally decide to put some music on and where, in normal circumstances, I might just press play on the CD player and hear whatever was there, or would put on a favourite compilation, the thought of having to confess that I’d listened to the same piece of music AGAIN, or of having to type out all the different tracks, would put me off, and sometimes I ended up listening to LESS music as a result.

Things were further complicated when I visited people who had the radio on – I had to stop conversation and write down what we’d just heard, or look it up on websites later, yet more work! How much of the piece had I heard? Did I really listen? Did it count, since I could only hear the music in the background? Questions, questions, so many questions!

In general, however, it was an enjoyable experience – although very hard work. These days I keep a blipfoto photojournal – some have said that it’s hard work to post every day – compared to keeping a listening journal every day it’s very very much easier for me and takes up a lot less time!

However, as I intend to get back to music in a much fuller way in 2011, this blog may yet be reborn in a different format. It’s many many years since I wrote about music seriously. Perhaps I shall again do so – maybe on the main blog, or maybe here!

To all of you who followed The Ears on their year-long journey, many many thanks, keep listening to wonderful wonderful music and a very Happy 2011 to you all!

Sunday 11 July 2010

Saturday 10th July 2010

At home:
Beethoven - Symphony No.1, Symphony No.3

In the car:
Dvorak - String Quartets 6-9
Beethoven - Choral Fantasia
Beethoven - Triple Concerto
Haydn - Harpsichord Concerto in D
Haydn - Hornsignal Symphony

At the opera:
Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

A fabulous end to the year. The Meistersinger was excellent - the Welsh National Opera production at the Hippodrome in Birmingham. Bryn Terfel was a most magnificent Hans Sachs. A great way to spend my birthday! :-)

Friday 9th July 2010

At home:
Satie - Gnossiennes, Gymnopedies etc.

In the car:
Brahms - Piano Concerto No.2
Saint Saens - Organ Symphony

All good stuff!

Thursday 8 July 2010

Thursday 8th July 2010

At home:
Wagner - Die Meistersinger Acts I & II
Satie - Gnossiennes, Gymnopedies etc.

That was all.

Wednesday 7th July 2010

At home:
Chopin - Etudes

In the car:
Bruch - Romance for Viola
Rebecca Clarke - Viola Sonata
Hindemith - Der Schwanendreher
Kreisler - Praeludium & Allegro (Viola)
Schubert - Arpeggione Sonata (Viola)
Schumann - Marchenbilder
Shostakovich - Viola Sonata
Brahms - Piano Concerto No.1

At a gig, sets by:
Rabid Gravy
To The Moon
Shirley Said

Interesting sort of a day!

Tuesday 6th July 2010

In the car:
Bruch - Kol Nidrei (Viola)

At home:
Chopin - Etudes

That was all!

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Monday 5th July 2010

In the car:
Bax - Legend for Viola.

That was it.