Recorded music and live music: how listening changes

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We can certainly say that most of the music we listen to is recorded music, it comes from CD, radio and many other sources and accompanies our daily life.

However, many of us will agree that the music that stimulates and involves us the most is the one we listen to live.

Just imagine a song you like and imagine listening to it through your headphones, sitting on the couch, or treading down wall street. Now think about the same song and imagine listening to it during a concert: the mere judgment is perhaps sparked very different emotions.


Music is a form of communications. The meaning that comes to us through listening to the music starts from a composer who has the difficult task of translating emotion into something that starts impression so that others can take it and ordeal it personally.

Unlike in language-based communication, in music the sharing of a code loses its centrality. The listener is not required specific melodic talents. Anyone is able to listen to music and to draw something from it. But it should not be forgotten that the ethnic and social context in which one life-times helps to assimilate a series of information that even without our insight give life to that specific musical sensibility that each of us possesses.

Music is in fact a figurative speech that as such has guidelines: it is based on patterns, modules and freedom of expression, social functions, which are adapted and modified according to the time and place.

That said, it should not be forgotten that the context in which we listen to music is also extremely important to determine how the sense itself will be perceived.

A recent opportunity

We must consider that the choice between live music and recorded music is a relatively recent opportunity that coincides with the birth of the first instruments of reproduction of the last century. Before then the music was played exclusively live which, If on the one handwriting it offered greater psychological involvement, and on the other, it naturally also involved fewer listening opportunities. Good or bad for the music?

How the indulgence of music has changed

Surely the greater diffusion has allowed the involvement of more parties, we think of those who perhaps did not have the financial means to be able to follow live music often, and has allowed the dissemination of knowledge of a cultural heritage.

It certainly too led to a radical change in the way music is played. With the advent of recorded music, single pieces are more easily encountered than the repertoire of an artist or a specific genre presented in the same concert, with the result that the level of tending drops. You get agitated more easily when listening, you turn on and off while a song is in progress, and you use the music as background to other activities.

Recorded music and live music: a different way of listening

Listening to music triggers the production of endorphin, a chemical that quickens the brain areas that produce pleasure to the body, use as an inhibitor of physical hurting and helps to reduce stress. But when we talk about emotions, the difference between recorded music and live music becomes evident.

Listening to recorded music is a very different kind of listening to what we can do during a concerted effort and the context is also very different. If we can listen to recorded music at any time, regardless of whether we are simultaneously engaged in other activities, different is when we decide to go out, go to a certain place, take place with the precise disposition of sentiment aimed at listening, involvement and participation more or less active.

The live spirit allows us to better understand the various subtleties of what we listen to. The recorded music has no breath, entrust, and the strength of the player. Live presence allows us to create a stronger psychological exchange with the performer and to feel indeed immersed in the music more than we could do even wearing very good headphones on the market. Not to mention that listening to a live operation never means to enjoy the exact reproduction of another conduct, even of the same anthems, as is the case for recorded music.

Another element to consider is the socializing function of music. Living the experience of a live concert accepts an feeling general exchange likewise with the present audience, which is watched together with us of that unique performance.

On the other hand, recorded music can reach a higher level of purity, in a recording room imperfections can be corrected, the musician is not affected by distractions that may come from the public( but not even has the charge that undeniably the public knows how to give him ), can be completely and exclusively focused on the execution and reserve the moments in which his psychophysical requirements are most suitable.

The importance of the human factor

To assess the importance of the human factor in performing a piece, some studies have investigated the responses of neurons, measured through an MRI that adds feedback of how the blood flowing incurred as a result of neural activity of the mentality converted with listening to live music specially involving and then compare it with the reaction to listening to the same song played by a computer.

The causes substantiated a larger neural activity during live listening, even more so in the case of listeners who were also experienced musicians, and spotlit a perhaps even more interesting aspect. As had been suggested, through a plan of mirror neurons the listeners have had the opportunity to perceive the sentiments of the performer giving rise to a use of empathy between the parties. This establish it was possible to understand and imitate the action and planneds of those who faced the stage not through conceptual argue but through simple sensations.

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