I hear you : Comments on the Sound Practice of Listening

I hear you : Comments on the Sound Practice of Listening

Prof Lance Strate PhD
Director (Academic), Global Listening Centre

Abstract: Typically, hearing is contrasted to listening, and such comparisons almost always favor listening. This dichotomy substitutes for the more complex understanding that there is no single type of listening, but rather, to employ a technique derived from general semantics, we can say that there are multiple varieties of listenings. These differences can be studied via the media ecology approach, based on the understanding that hearing and listening are both ways that individuals mediate between each other and with their environments, and therefore can be considered types of media. Media ecology emphasizes the question of how we do things, including the significance of the different ways that different sensory organs function, which includes the particular characteristics of the sense of hearing. Even when listening is used at a metaphor, the basis of that metaphor is the sensory organ of the human ear, and hearing has also served as a metaphor for listening. Understanding the specific characteristics of the sense of hearing, which are holistic, nonlinear, unbounded, ecological, harmonizing, subjective, relational, communal, and spiritual, helps to clarify the significance of listening as a practice and an area of study.

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