Open Closed Mind

It's important to greet music from a place of openness for the sake of keeping things fresh as a listener. Recording nature sounds has taught me a lot about this, as I cannot overlay my comfortable filters onto that experience ("Wow, that bluejay just bombed the chirp chirp. Retake!?"). There is a field of sound and I'm there to either pay attention to it or not. If I choose to pay attention, what do I pay attention to and how? Do we have to consciously know about a sound in order to experience it? And once we know stuff, how do we orient that knowledge so that it is supportive rather than restrictive of the experience? These questions apply to musical contexts as much as nature sounds. 

It can be tough to enter a new musical environment with an open mind. And I say this with humility too, because in certain ways I don't know what an "open mind" means. But I do know the experience of being unable to greet something fresh because I'm too caught up in default patterns of thought to be present with it. "Oh, this is this type of music or this type of player or that recording aesthetic, I know how to understand it." That is not an open mind although it may be efficient toward certain ends. Those ends grow tiresome over time. 

As you do something repetitively, you learn about it. Maybe you know some things about music. You've heard the greats, know what's good and bad. You have knowledge and skills developed through hard work - fruits of the labor that shape or define new experiences. And finally (if sometimes less attractive) you have your plain old biases, that compost of personality, taste, life history, subtle psychology. It's important to keep all of that in mind when listening to something new, of course, but it's essential to let at least some of it go as well. From the letting go, we can be more present with the experience, whether to learn, appreciate, or just check out. Easier said than done no doubt.