by Ted Cleaver

A dying breed. Actually, a marginalized breed. Billions are spent in marketing to put the equivalent of fast food on our acoustic radar. For all I know, there are cults, communities, and legions of talented musicians creating the finest sounds and songs – only to be heard by those who actively search. Quality by definition deserves effort. Effort takes time. But good music is timeless.

Right now I am listening to Tommy Simatupang, an old friend and probably the most talented musician I know personally. Fully appreciating the soundscape he develops with just his voice and his fretless guitar (+ pre-recorded beat) is beyond me, I’m no connoisseur. However, all it takes to hear the beauty of this song is to actively listen. Active listening is a science in itself of course. The most basic step is a meditative focus on the actual sensory experience of hearing. Rule out thoughts and enjoy the input.

This is something I never do with pop songs. Ever. They immediately prompt a sort of energy or emotion, something that diverts the listener’s attention from how bland and simplistic the production is. There is a time and place for everything, and in my world there is very little time and space for fast food. Instead, I consult specialist blogs run by experts providing information on the right ingredients and novelties. They deliver quality. The type of musician I am talking about here is your rare feast, your visit to a Michelin star restaurant. And while we pay a steep price for the best food, market mechanisms in the music industry have made some of the best music available for free.

When you pay a lot for a meal, how much time do you spend on actually savouring the flavour as your taste buds orchestrate the sensation? Likewise, when you listen to a musician’s tunes, do you realize this is an expression of their hearts and souls, an opportunity for the listener to experience something special and unique? Habitually, I don’t, but ever more often I do. This beautiful afternoon felt timeless for a little while. Thank you Tommy!