Schaeffer distinguish between ordinary listening and repeated listening. The former is divided
into the four categories listening, hearing, attending and understanding.1.5 Reduced listening is
achieved by repeated listening, which enables the listener to focus on the intrinsic features of
a sound, disconnected from its context. Reduced listening is a tool for investigation and for
shifting listening attention intentionally, from the contextual to the inherent features of sound.
Criticism of reduced listening points out the difficulty of ignoring the contextual associations
of a sound. Smalley (1997) points out certain problems with reduced listening: after one has
perceived very fine intrinsic audible features in a sound, it may become very difficult to
regain a normal listening mode, with all references to the outside world are in place. Low-
level investigation, such as focusing entirely on the background at the cost of the foreground,
tends to magnify details of minor importance. When practicing a musical instrument, one
practices reduced listening.
- ... understanding.1.5
- I assume this is a well-known theory, which needs no further presentation here.