Monday, July 11, 2011

What's Catching Your Ear?

I'm relatively new to the bluegrass scene, as I don't know much about the style or about many artists. I'm learning however, and in my attempts to gain a better grasp on the genre, I've stumbled upon music that I've grown to love. There's something about the quick strumming of the banjo and the rapid picking of the fiddle that inevitably draws me in. The appeal of this genre's instruments has me wondering about other styles of music and how each of their components affects listeners...

I'm certainly not an expert by any means, but I'm under the impression that most people decide whether or not they like a song within the first couple of seconds, and certainly within the first minute. If you're like me, and the beginning is slow or fails to grab your attention, you skip ahead trying to find the chorus. Since I began this website, I've realized this impatient method acts as a barrier between the artist and their deserved respect. Consequently, I'm now finding myself listening to songs in their entirety and thus renewing my appreciation or finding new respect for artists. By looking at a song and all of its components, I'm drawn back to the preceding thought - how are listeners affected by the different components of a song? What draws them in, and what makes them stay? What catches your ear?

I used to think I was a vocals guy, meaning when listening to a song, the first thing I look for to decide whether I like it or not are the vocals. There's nothing better than an unconventional voice that catches you off guard and builds your interest all the way until the last note. I'm talking about the actual sound of the voice, although the message is arguably the most important component of a song (unfortunately this seems to be changing in areas such as hip-hop with the emergence of "frat rap"). One of Beat Dropping's unspoken promises to its followers has been to promote underground, up-and-coming artists that stray from the mainstreams in their respective genres. We're constantly trying to find artists with that new, unique sound everyone constantly strives to discover. The sound of an artist's voice is at the heart of that unique sound.

By listening past songs' opening seconds or their hooks, I'm finding my attention shifting. I'm not saying I don't focus on artists' vocals anymore, but rather that I'm beginning to appreciate music and its most basic components - the instruments, the rhythm, the melody. Bluegrass is what sparked my deeper appreciation, so bluegrass is my example. It might be a southern thing, but the level of skill and attention to detail and emotion is paralleled by few other genres. I'm interested in what everyone thinks and whether most people are attracted to vocals or the instrumentals. Start listening to songs from start to finish, not just the opening seconds or the chorus, and you might find your initial inclination shifting like mine did. Feel free to comment and tell us what grabs your attention when you first listen to a song, and whether or not that appeal remains throughout.

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