Android, Sound
comments 6

Listen Carefully – Re-enabling focus in music listening

listen_carefully_1 copy

Created by Jonas Breme, Listen Carefully is about raising awareness about music experience and a critique of digital music consumption aiming to spark debate about how we buy and experience music today. Avoiding passive experience, custom designed pair of headphones allow users to focus by disabling the playback if the user moves thus encouraging focus and time off from other activities.

The times we are living in are fast moving and hectic. Modern technology is altering the way we live, work and consume, supporting a fast and superficial lifestyle. A way to cope with these new challenges is hard to find. Nowadays it seems more and more important to critically reflect on one’s behavior in order to define a viewpoint and find a healthy way to live.

The consumption of music has changed in the recent years, mainly influenced by technological development of media and playback devices. In many situations, music listening has shifted from a main-activity to a side-activity (H. Weber has coined the term passive listening). Music is no longer in the center of our attention, but is heard while focusing on other things. Subsequently, due to the change in perception, music is in danger of degenerating into an unnoticed background noise.

By using a built in accelerometer, digital potentiometer and an Arduino Mini, the headphone lowers the playback volume on juddering movements, “forcing” the user to sit still and relax.

Listen Carefully is one of three design concepts, developed as part of Jonas’ BA thesis about music-listening behavior at the Interface Design program at University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam. The objects and concepts are not to be seen as marked-ready products, but rather as critical design objects aiming to spark debate about today’s forms of consumption.

Project Page |  Jonas Breme

  • Definitely not for dance music.

  • Olaf Keller

    And not for silent disco.

  • agree. you can for example listen to music while washing the dishes since it’s not really an intellectual type activity. and still dance at the drop! q;)

  • mark h

    ZControl fteakery, how long has this guy been the arbiter of how people should ?!

  • Experimentaldog

    What is music and how do we experience it? What types of music and genres are being discussed? What was considered music before 1877? Is music just ones and zeros in a little box? Are headphones acoustically appropriate for playback? What happened to the hi-fi home stereo? Can some recorded music’s purpose be background ambience? Is there a societal rule that listening to music out loud is now forbidden? How do other cultures experience music beyond recordings? Is it fair to say that every piece of recorded music must be experienced in the same way? Do some people romanticize too much about their favourite music based on their own cultural biases and experience? Do too many people claim that they know the true way to experience music based on their subjective tastes? Do some want to learn more about music, but avoid learning a bit of theory and music history like the plague? Is it easier to make generalizations about modern music experiences based on limited research? Is all music to be consumed? Does a cleverly marketed solution add to the notion of mass music consumption? What would be the ideal music for these headphones? Is some of the recorded music of today appropriate for these cans? If not, does this create a problematic and elitist highbrow vs. lowbrow distinction in listening habits? Can modern recording loudness levels correlate to the influence of electronic dance music production, especially over the last few years?

    Just questions. I find no easy answers to anything. I’m not trying to knock the effort put into this project, I just think it comes off a little condescending and crass to assume we’re not listening. In a nutshell, I find it problematic to put people’s listening experiences into a box.

  • matt c

    I think it’s an interesting concept, if we look at the way mediums through which we listen have changed the cognitive processes involved in putting on/playing music, then maybe things are changing in the way we remember and describe music with less attention being given to some aspects of music (I couldn’t recall a lot of the tracks I’ve listened to on YouTube in the past week without seeing them on there again). So perhaps it’s more superficial listening habits occurring these days alongside the vast amounts of music available to us on the internet?