Interesting ways to enjoy music
May 19, 2021 4:27 PM   Subscribe

What are some cool or interesting ways you’ve found to experience music? Click inside to see what I mean.

For example: I’ll take an artist and go through their whole discography over a week or two or so (depending on how deep their catalogue is) and go through it chronologically, giving each album/mixtape/EP/single/release a least a couple full listens front to back (if not more) and then just sort of listen a la carte to my favorites off that release for a little while after. Then I move on to the next until I finish. My question is two-fold:

What are some other fun/cool ways in which to listen to or consume music. Strategies for exploration and enjoyment of music?

Whose catalogues are worth doing my aforementioned exploration with, or your suggestions with?
posted by jitterbug perfume to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite way to explore and find music I'm not familiar with is to put a band I'm familiar with but would be very happy to have discovered today into and seeing what else turns up in the map. If I were going to do it today I'd probably start with Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and go from there. Clicking on a name re-centers the map on that artist, often turning up more related artists.

I also like following a particular musician across their various projects. They used to be called session musicians, but nowadays I don't think that term is used much. For example, Jim White is someone you can follow around the indie rock music of the past 25 years, enjoying a fairly large range of bands and musical styles, with just Jim White on drums. Ken Vandermark is another name I've been meaning to do this with (sax).
posted by carsonb at 4:41 PM on May 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

When NPR made a list of the 150 greatest albums by women, I put the list in chronological order and then started a project to listen to each album, in its entirety, in that chronological order. I thought it would be interesting to experience how later albums, artists, and styles developed from and referenced earlier ones. I didn’t finish, but I learned a lot and found it very engaging while I was doing it.
posted by somedaycatlady at 4:56 PM on May 19, 2021 [5 favorites]

searching by instrument, then finding something to stream. e.g. slide guitar led me to an amazeballs indian slide player rocking in a raga group.

go the the Wikipedia discography of musicians i love, drill down to personel on a recording. pick a guest player or session guy. google their other stuff.

search for past tours of groups i like. who was opening?

ask your neighbor's teenager what's new and good.

at the bar, shazam something even a little cool that you've never heard. track down their stuff.

go see a local originals band. ask who their influences are.

buy a multi artist mix like something from putamayo. dive into a specific artist or genre.

see who's covered some of your fave songs. check out their catalog.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:08 PM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I like creating a playlist with a very ridiculous and specific theme, and then continuously search for songs that might fit it. Songs to listen to in a hurricane, Songs about specific years - I have it in chronological order, songs of people singing about their musical heroes, songs that sound like children's music but aren't, songs about loving or hating Los Angeles, etc. Kind of weird but I've found all kinds of interesting songs this way.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:35 PM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Who sampled is a neat site that tells you which songs use samples from or are sampled by which other songs. It's fascinating to trace them back to their origins and see how else they were repurposed by other artists.
posted by subocoyne at 6:58 PM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Try choosing the music from a particular calendar year to dive deeply into.
posted by wats at 7:17 PM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I did this with Dr. Dog I recommend it.
One of the little music games I play is if I watch a tv show or movie I like a lot when I listen to songs I've been listening to for 20 years suddenly they're about this or that character or just belong on the soundtrack.
posted by bleep at 7:57 PM on May 19, 2021

2 weird tricks to finding new ways to enjoy music
1. Choose your own musventure.
Start by choosing a Band or Artist you already like. Then google them and read everything you can( wiki page, interviews,podcasts) until you know who their musical influences are. Then listen to those musical influences, pick your favorite and wash rinse repeat.
2. Pick a show with an epic musical soundtrack.
Start with season one and each time you hear a song that you like Shazam it and put it in a playlist. Listen to more of the artists work as well. By the end of the season (or series) you’ll have a great playlist and be musically informed! Suggestions to get you started: Six Feet Under, Season 1 of The O.C., Veronica Mars, and Good Girls.
3. Bonus:
Podcasts with musicians interviews. Two faves:
Sodajerker on Songwriting: Two Liverpudlian co-hosts and songwriting duo interview songwriters and singer/songwriters in the most delightful well researched and enlightening format ever.
My Favorite Album with Jermey Dylan-
Musician guests pick their favorite album and spend time getting into why and how that album has impacted them. Great stuff!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2021

this one may be too obvious, but look up and learn the lyrics of songs you like so you can properly sing along. My neighbours may hate me.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:38 PM on May 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

podcast 'science mixtape' is great interviews with actual scientists, who get to choose songs relevant to their careers or lives.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:12 PM on May 19, 2021

Watching reaction videos on YouTube, and seeing the Youth Of Today open their ears to the kind of musicianship that grabbed me by the heart as a kid and which modern studio techniques have rendered largely superfluous, is quite surprisingly satisfying.

"That was not nine minutes. That was one minute."

Hey you kids, get on my lawn. It's a good lawn.
posted by flabdablet at 12:36 AM on May 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

My coffee steeps for 4 and a half minutes. I used to use a timer, but then I made a smart playlist in my phone's music player of tracks between 4:20 and 4:40, sorted randomly, limited to one result. Every time I open it it had a new track, and I time my coffee steeping with that. No cheating and skipping any result! I have a ton of music I've never really listened to on my phone, and I've discovered a lot of tracks I really like that might not have surfaced otherwise.

I made another one for cooking pasta, but due to the length required that one returns classical almost exclusively
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:45 AM on May 20, 2021

Some tracks with potential cookery timing applications:

The Bevis Frond: Long Journey Into Light (9:36)
The Bevis Frond: Dustbins in the Rain (13:38)
The Bevis Frond: The Miskatonic Variations (14:51)
The Bevis Frond: Tangerine Infringement Beak (19:17)
The Bevis Frond: Growing Weeds (19:53)
The Bevis Frond: Homemade Traditional Electric Jam (42:10)

Golden Earring: Eight Miles High (19:04)
posted by flabdablet at 4:13 AM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pink Floyd: Atom Heart Mother Suite (23:42)
posted by flabdablet at 4:48 AM on May 20, 2021

You didn't hear this from me but if you imagine you're performing the songs with your instrument of choice (yes, all in your head), it can lead you down an electrifying path.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 7:00 AM on May 20, 2021

I like to listen to versions of songs that have been altered in terms of tempo/pitch.

Here's T. Swift's "State of Grace" significantly slowed down. I'm not a fan of the original, but this version is great.

A good search is "slowed down" in Soundcloud.
posted by degoao at 8:38 AM on May 20, 2021

"I was wrong before. Now they're in C.

...How do they do that?"

Classical composer reacts to Close To the Edge
posted by flabdablet at 9:11 AM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't do spotify. I listen for people who are featured with other people.

Okay so Cardi B led me to Spanish music: J Balvin and Bad Bunny first.
Then Farruko through J Balvin
Then Fuego and Arcangel through Farruko
Then De La Ghetto through Arcangel
Then I heard "Te Bote" which featured SO MANY different flows and people: Bad Bunny, Ozuna, Darell
Then Bad Bunny also led me to El Alfa

one of the many great things about Latin Music right now is that everyone is featuring everyone else; everyone is supportive; there's no back-biting. So if you find a great tune and hear someone with a great flow, you'll hear them (on the song) say their name ... and it's like a footnote: you can follow up and listen to their stuff from there. This is just one tiny corner of a huge exciting music movement.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:35 PM on May 20, 2021

SF Bay Area freeform college radio station KFJC is hosting their annual "Month Of Mayhem Specials." A few examples of these themed programs that might offer some ideas:

Music from Mills College professors and graduates (playlist) Archive Recording

Seasonal Music-Songs With a Season In The Title (playlist) Archive Recording

Apollo Records-Electronic Music Catalog from a Single Label (playlist) Archive Recording

Songs About Food (playlist) Archive Recording

Upcoming programming includes: Songs About Drinking and Songs Recorded in San Francisco. (Full Schedule). The archived program recordings last for two weeks from their broadcast dates.
posted by JDC8 at 3:57 PM on May 20, 2021

Another interesting way to enjoy music is rather traditional and predates the Internet by many decades: allocate at least some of your listening time to letting somebody else curate it for you, so that you don't get stuck in the algorithmic What I Like = All I Will Ever Get A Chance To Like preference trap.
posted by flabdablet at 2:17 AM on May 21, 2021

Exploring by label has introduced me to a lot of great stuff, and outlines general trends in music - Blue Note in the 50s/60s, Motown in the 60s/70s, Def Jam in the 80s/90s, Matador and Warp in the 90s for example. The things that excite me the most right now come from places like Excavated Shellac and Sahel Sounds.

Also, as mentioned above if you are at all musically inclined learning to play the songs you like (even on a very very basic level) can enhance you appreciation for a lot of music. I've been trying to learn to play piano this last year and finally began to understand the genius of Stevie Wonder (how can something so catchy and 'normal' sounding be so complex and experimental?). It has also led to a re-appreciation for music that I've listened to my whole life.

As with books, I find alternating old stuff with new stuff puts it all in perspective and keeps my mind open.
posted by lowest east side at 7:26 AM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Call it a remnant of messing with the settings on my parent's record player when I was a kid, but I often like to drop the MP3 of a song I love into Audacity and play it double-speed just to hear the over-arching rhythms in a different way. I also used to apply a center pan/vocal removal filter to hear a more instrumental version, but found the new AI-powered tool Spleeter is much better for that. You can separate out up to five elements -- vocal, bass, drums, piano, and "other" -- and recombine them in different ways using Audacity. It's really cool stripping out some of the harsher instruments from a noisy track to get a gentler acoustic version, or isolating the subtler audio effects that you normally don't notice.

Also: searching YouTube for "[song name] cover" is fantastic for finding covers of popular songs in a wide variety of styles, from amateurs ukelele players to speed metal to 8-bit chiptune to full-on orchestras.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:14 PM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older Can you find me Minju Kim's cool glasses?   |   Recreational drugs in professional reviewing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.