Michael Coleman and Emmanuel Moran’s thought provoking documentary, “The Art of Listening,” was made available for free viewing on YouTube in early March. Beautifully shot and painstakingly recorded – as befits the subject matter – the documentary explores the ways in which music is created and enjoyed. Blending art and science, the documentary unveils the nuances and detail that musicians, instrument makers, recording engineers and music lovers put into the creation of music.
Standout interviews from the film include: Jean Larrivee, founder and CEO of his eponymous guitar company, explaining why he spends five months a year travelling the world to select tone woods; virtuoso drummer, Antonio Sanchez, talking about his transition from Rock Drummer to tone-chaser; studio architect, John Storyk, explaining why musicians put so much effort into music that gets played back through cheap, white earbuds; and producer, Gabe Roth, urging viewers to put down their plethora of electronic devices in order to truly experience and enjoy the quality of modern music – “love it more; not just love more of it.”
The documentary ends with a call to action: invest in audio playback devices, such as high quality speakers, headphones, and receivers that can capture the studio quality of your music. The technology exists, but the audio market is overwhelmed by mediocre products. Mixing Engineer, Andrew Scheps, suggests that “for people who want to connect directly with the artist…the more you give them the better chance they have of connecting to the actual performance…and the more compressed the audio gets, the less of that intimacy is left in the audio itself.”
According to Shunsuke Shiomi, headphone engineer at Sony, high resolution files provide music lovers with the best listening experience. “Simply put, the recording contains every detail from the space where it was captured. That’s what high resolution delivers. But it’s also important that the equipment you use to play these files is capable of playing back every detail.”
I enjoyed this documentary immensely, and I highly recommend you take the time to dim the lights and watch. And listen.
Check out the movie here.