Fast music is also overrated – The Campaign for Slow Music

unsurprisingly had a number of respondents to my post ‘why smart work is overrated‘, lining up to criticise me for being negative instead of being
encouraging. Well let me respond that I felt I had to speak out in light of
what I saw.

another thing that’s got ‘up my nose’ lately is the prevalence of fast music.

I admit, I
used to listen to Drum and Bass when I was younger. In fact one of my favourite
tunes is this one by Roni Size. So I am by no means anti fast music at all.
HOWEVER, when there is the preference for all things going at 100 mph, I feel
it’s time to stick up for slow music.

Being able
to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of a slower piece of music is a skill
worth honing. You see, it enables you to be more keenly tuned to what goes on
within the music such as the timbre of the notes, the beats, the articulation,
volume/dynamics and general timing. The mood and character are conveyed clearly
and they affect you more when you appreciate what’s going on ‘beneath the

Fast music
doesn’t allow for this appreciation as the focus is purely on the beat and
getting the listener’s adrenaline pumping. I know as I attend spin classes and
when I listen to a booming dance track, it’s all about the effect that sound
has on my ability to carry on turning those wheels when pouring with sweat and
gasping for breath.

Make comparisons
As an experiment, listen to a fast piece of music
(dance/house is good, but anything fast), and see what else you can pick up
apart from the beat. Write this down on one half of a piece of paper. Then do
the same with a slow piece of music (but written on the other half) and make
comparisons. See if you
Apply this principle to whenever you practice. For
example, if you have a tendency to learn a section fast, record yourself doing
it that speed and monitor any mistakes and what you may have missed out. Then record
yourself learning the section far slower. Note the mistakes but more importantly,
what you were able to pay attention to that time. You’ll find speed makes a
The slow music week experiment
Another tip: seek out slow music that you would never think
of listening to. Spend the week listening to it and monitor your mood
throughout. Does it affect how you go about your daily business? Do you think
you could be energised listening to a slow piece as opposed to a pumping,
up-tempo song? Is it possible? Try
Improved listening
The wider message here is that taking time to do things
(when time permits) allows you to notice and appreciated things you might have
missed – mostly when you’re in conversation with someone and take everything
they say in, rather than preparing your response. Quiet time to yourself, may
not be so quiet if your ears pick up sounds like birdsong, traffic, the tv or
dripping water. However, at least while in a relaxed state, you’re likely to notice
these, rather than be ‘deafened’ by your thoughts running riot as you juggle
your days and weeks.
Play slow music while in the car or in any busy environment – it might just get you focused and in control more than you think.

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