Labeling Mistake and Preconceptions when listening

I just had a laugh last night w a mislabelled ecm LP, and wanted to share my experience with you. I bought a copy of Meredith Monk's Dolmen Music at a used record shop, and played it as soon as I got home. I read the liner notes, and started building a picture on my mind of what the singer/pianist was like, and waited for the singing to start. After the first side was done, and still no singing, I flipped it over and expected the singing to finalyy start, but to no avail. I listened to the whole record, and not a single human voice on it. How weird, I thoguth. Could it be she's imitating instruments, making her voice sound like an alto sax or a flute? I really liked this album, but couldn't figure out what was going on. The label on the record matched the sleeve, but then I looked more closely, and noticed that the serial number engraved on the vinyl didn't match the album's serial number. Instead of 1197, it was 1127! So I finally figured it out. I looked the serial number up online, and it's Arild Andersen's "Green Shades into Blue". So now I had to re-assess my mental image of the music I'd been listening to (I'd never heard of Arild, btw, but now I'm sure to look for more of his work). Instead of an avant-garde New York singer/pianist, I had actually been listening to Nordic jazz led by a bassist! Now clearly the music is what counts, and I'd gotten the album based on listening to brief segments at the store, and liked it even more when I got home. But the whole experience brought out very clearly for me just how much preconception goes on when I listen to music, and it's made me want to do more blind listening, i.e. where I don't know what I'm listening to. I've been doing a lot of listening to new music lately, but much of it is of fairly well known players, and I wonder to what extent I'm listening through my preconceptions rather than my ears. Anyway, just wanted to put this little episode out there, see if any of you have had similar thoughts. Regards,


Showing 1 response by commcat

In a slightly different fact pattern, I received several jazz LP's from an Audiogon seller. Played the first one only to discover that the vinyl was actually a Broadway Musical recording, nothing whatsoever to do with jazz or the artist featured on the cover. This was an LP described as "test played" with a listing of personnel. Seller admitted he had never listened to the record and was unaware that the cover contained the wrong recording. In this case "Blind Listening" did not change my preconception with regard to broadway musicals.