chapter  L
6 Pages

L

Negus identifies two groups of listeners focused on by Adorno and later theorists: those lost in the crowd, and easily manipulated into the collectivity, and obsessive individuals,

alienated and not fully integrated into social life, with both types part of the anxieties of moral guardians (Negus, 1996: ch. 1). Adorno saw the mass culture products of the music industry as requiring very little effort on the part of listeners. He argued that it led to ‘de-concentrated listening in which listeners rejected anything which was unfamiliar, regressing to “child-like” behaviour’ (1991:44-5). One facet of this was what Adorno termed ‘quotation listening’, where instead of listening to a piece of music and trying to grasp it as a whole, the regressive listener dwelt only on the most obvious aspects of melody. In the process listeners adopted a ‘musical child’s language’ and responded to different works ‘as if the symphony were structurally the same as a ballad’ (cited in Negus, 1996:9). Adorno referred disparagingly to the category of ‘easy listening’, which he regarded as an example of the music industry deliberately encouraging distracted audience activity, with an emphasis on the most familiar harmonies, rhythms, and melodies, with a ‘soporific’ effect on social consciousness. Adorno saw this as fulfilling an ideological function in pacifying the listening audience and making them unable to reflect critically on their world.