Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens is a quote by Jimi Hendrix.

Some thoughts about Listening

Maybe there are so many things said about listening that we might not want to hear any more about it. But is it really listening we mean, or just hearing? What’s the difference?

Let’s do an experiment: close your eyes now for 20 seconds and focus on everything that you can hear at this very moment. Listen to the loud sounds – maybe there are people in the room or sounds outside – but also to the very soft sounds, tones that you might not have noticed before. Concentrate on all possible sonic expressions and listen deeply to the sounds that are there.
Done? Now compare these experiences with what you heard the last time you have entered a room with people. You might have been in a conversation or heard some random voices or sounds.

This is actually the difference between hearing and listening. Our ears are always open; every moment we get new information via our ears into our brain. Our ears function as a sense organ. Listening needs focus and attention.

In the Music Thinking Framework, the Listen phase is the first of the four phases and is consequently also active during the others. This means that we should switch from just hearing what is there to listen to what needs attention. As a result, Listen is not just about the data but about the meaning of it.

The Listen Card (one of the 38 Jam Cards)

The essence of the Listen card is to establish active listening. Listening can be a leadership practice to move from knowledge to wisdom. Or in other words to find the signal in the noise.

The picture

This iPhone snapshot was taken in the French Pavillion on the Venice Art Biennale 2017. The Pavillion is an architectural installation or living sculpture with different space that are intended as a recording studio. The idea of Studio Venezia by the artist Xavier Veilhan was to share moments of fragility, love, relationships and attention with musicians and art lovers. The inside – inspired by the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters – was all wood in a monochrome colour, where different musical instruments were built in the environment to bring emotion into visual art. Furthermore, during the exhibition, there were concerts from baroque, classical music, experimental jazz, pop to electronic music to share a sense of curiosity in sound and musical texture.

The quote

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

To me, this quote tells two things: on the one hand, to share knowledge, we need to speak, and on the other, to get knowledge and transform it into wisdom and also actions, it requires listening.

Jimi Hendrix was one of the greatest and most influential electrical guitarists of all time.

The sonic trigger

5-minute version at the end of the LP Electric Ladyland

Voodoo Child (slight return) is one of Hendrix’s best-known songs; it was a feature of his concert performances throughout his career, and several live renditions were recorded and released on later albums. I really love the beginning, the sonic quality and rhythm played with a wah-wah pedal and the great panning later in the song (listen with headphones). Thats why the song is not only an improvisation with guitar, voice, bass and drums but also great studio work that was evolving at the end of the 60s.

Here is another version together with Stevie Winwood:

15-minute version, the bluesy version with a lot of improvisation

The cues

On this card, we have the two cues that are playing the main role in the listening step at the beginning of a process: JAMMIN” and EMPATHY. First of all JAMMIN’ has two functions: to open up and to sense (what might come). While the EMPATHY cue stands for listening – deep and active listening – and also for understanding.

Video of the French Pavilion at Biennale di Venezia 2017
Deep Listening Institute Pauline Oliveros

Learn better listening with these two podcasts

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast
Deep Listening with Sharon Stewart

If Knowledge speaks and wisdom listens, the question is: how can you improve your listening? How do we hear? What is active listening? What is Deep Listening? In the conversation about Deep Listening, Sharon explains the difference between the way you listen to someone, and the way you listen together with someone- an interesting thought. And The Audio Alchemist and Sonic Strategist Steve Keller explains that the way we listen helps us to make sound decisions. Inspiring conversations on The Power of Music Thinking Podcast.

Like what you have read above?

The ‘Listen Card’ is only one of the 44 cards. Order the jam cards via your local bookstore (worldwide) have a nice chat with the people there, and try the cards right away. 

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Boxed set 
44 cards
18.5 x 18.5 cm
ISBN 978 90 6369 514 9
29,00 Euro

Yes, you can buy the Jam Cards at, BIS Publishers, and all the other online stores.

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens on a T-shirt

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