We do not listen to music in uniform, fixed, or pseudo-objective ways. Creative practice and research in electroacoustic music have highlighted the ways in which we may perceive different musics in very different manners, and adopt different approaches in our listening. It is also very frequent that different listening strategies may be adopted during the course of a single piece of music. Much learned in this area about listening responses is acknowledged and employed by composers and musicians in their strategies for the creation of electroacoustic music.
It is the perceived salience of aspects of musical surfaces and structures that will lead listeners to adopt different strategies in their listening. For example, we will undoubtedly listen to a fast monophonic sequence of autonomous sonic events in a very different fashion to an immensely dense and slowly evolving granular texture. Similarly, we are likely to listen to narrative in a different manner from a highly abstract musical surface.
Since electroacoustic music is a time-based art, our listening may be highly directed by the musical codes and structuring devices of the composer, or we may be left the freedom to listen in more non-directed ways.
The idea in ecological theories of perception that any stimulus will contain the key to its eventual understanding by the perceiver is perhaps apropos.
See also:Modes of Listening