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Foxtrot's avatar

What do you hear first when listening to music?

Asked by Foxtrot (244points) April 10th, 2010

Is it the rhythm? The lyrics (words, not sound)? A certain instrument? The vocalist? The song as a whole?

I listen to music and I hear the words first, followed by rhythm.
Lyrics can make or break a song for me.

Unless of course it’s instrumental (or synthesized). Then it’s the song as a whole.

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24 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

With me it is always the lyrics – the modern version of poetry for many.

emergence's avatar

yes lyrics here too! haha, this is exactly a question i was give as an assignment by my mentor. perhaps i’ll come back and post my assignment when I finish it :)

Draconess25's avatar

I generally hear the rythem first, but if I reallly don’t like the lyrics (or vocalist—that’s more likely), I won’t listen to it.

jaytkay's avatar

I hear rhythm & melody.

I don’t comprehend lyrics very well, I think the rhythm distracts me too much. It happens with poetry, too (which as you can imagine pretty well ruins poetry for me).

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Three cords and rhythm

phoebusg's avatar

“I love music, can’t live a day without it. Would rather not. Someone said—but there are sounds in nature, around you, wouldn’t that be enough? No – not for me. I like structured sounds, I like a story told through melodies and rhythms and emotions translated to music and back.

I love a good melody, a good rhythm that takes over my mind and body, and something that’s bounded harmoniously. Lastly, I love a good song, as in lyrics – something of importance that goes with the emotions produced from the above. Sure it may mean something else to every person – and it may mean nothing at all to someone else.”


Thanks, good question :)

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

It’s not so much what I hear but what I feel. How the music moves me inside.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Harmony, orchestration, individual instrumental playing. Most of what I listen to are serious instrumental pieces. With most popular songs, I can’t make out even what the lyrics are. There are some greats like Enya who can put comprehensible lyrics together with good music, but they seem to be a rare phenomena.

filmfann's avatar

The first time I hear a song, I listen for the feeling, and for the hook (the playablity). The words, which are so important to me, come later.

Ellen33's avatar

The vibration and tone of the instruments.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I have a couple of suggestions for lyricists: GooGoo Dolls, Lifehouse, Three Doors Down, or going way back Blue Oyster Cult. Just a thought.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe You have to go back about 40 years to find lyrics that are not either blasted out by the instruments or sung in an incomprehensible way. There are marvelous exceptions like Enya, k.d.lang, Indigo Girls.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Can’t disagree with you there. That’s an interesting trio.

jerv's avatar

The rhythm and tempo.

Much of what I listen to is instrumental and I often ignore the lyrics on most other music unless I have any real reason to notice them. The only real exceptions to that rule are Eminem and Al Yankovic but even then I notice the beat first.

However, if I care to notice them, I can parse the lyrics out of just about anything. I didn’t need the liner notes for any track from Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss album or White Zombie’s Real Solution #9. So it isn’t that I can’t figure them out; I just don’t give half a stroke of dry fucking about them most of them time.

MarcoNJ's avatar

I always strive to listens to the lyrics, but admittedly the beat has to initially catch my interest. It’s kind of difficult to pay attention to the lyrics if the beat sucks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Thanks for the ga. Someone else know their Stones?

DominicX's avatar

Being a classical fan at heart, I listen to the tune first and that is the main thing that determines whether or not I like the song. I don’t care much about lyrics. Good lyrics are an added bonus, but for me, it’s the tune that wins out over anything else. Of course, a song is going to have to have a good combination of the tune with the instruments used and the beat in order for me to really like it.

ubersiren's avatar

I hear (and actively listen for) the base line. The rhythm and progression of the base line. It tells you where the song is going melodically. Then, I listen for how the melody fits the base line, and what instruments are driving the melody. Tone and style of the voice is next, followed by any accessory instruments (vibraslap, chimes, bells, etc.) and finally the lyrics. For some reason the music is far more important to me than the lyrics.

BoBo1946's avatar

“da beat!”

aprilsimnel's avatar

Bass. Probably because I’m teaching myself to play one so I’m really listening for it.

Silence04's avatar

Lyrics are the last thing I listen too…

msbauer's avatar

i strangely never listen to lyrics. well at least i don’t listen to them closely enough to pay attention to the cohesive theme/message, but i still manage to know all the words. in short, i hear the instrumental rhythm first. the lyrics for me are mostly just noise adding to the overall rhythm.

JeffVader's avatar

The bass line….. every time!

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