Music and the Transcendental

"I think we have to begin from this idea that we have inherited a listening culture. Listening is not an easy thing itself to define. There is such a thing as hearing. We hear music all the time around us, but most of us do not pay attention to it—partly because most of it is not worth paying attention to. But there is also overhearing and that is a very common experience. Wherever we are—in restaurants or in the Metro or wherever—we are overhearing music coming at us from all angles, and we are learning how to ignore it. Music was not originally designed to be ignored. But we live in a society where, if we do not learn to ignore it, we cannot also learn to listen to it. This puts an enormous strain on us and it is one reason, of course, for the existence of these special places like symphony halls where one can insulate oneself from the surrounding world."