The rain is different in Singleton, NSW, Australia. The argument starts with such a simple yet ferocious force of nature because of the subtle differences one can hear when you are really listening. Listening to the rain in Muswellbrook, NSW, Australia at one of the largest coal mines in the Southern Hemisphere, one can hear differences in pitch, tone, texture, and density of each drop. It is purely a matter of listening.

You may ask, how does this relate to musicianship?

We are so quick to talk about active listening, being authentic in our communication and daily lives but we forget that listening is a simple act, practiced by every specie on the planet.

The question should be, how do we listen?

Listening takes on three major elements which are the three core dimensions of IAVA – Interactive Audio-Visual Analysis, created during my research years.

 These elements are:

Dimension I: Aural Listening, what we hear with our auditory cortex and auditory association area in the brain. It is reductive listening which enhances this simple act of communication.

Dimension II: Physical Listening (Gesture), how we move with ourselves, with others in a conversation, during performance, rehearsal which are all connected through the energy we create inside our own bodies.

Dimension III: Visual Listening, what we see, read, interpret in books, film, music scores and even how we interpret physical movement of ourselves and others.

Each of these dimensions are integral in musicianship and has been comprehensively covered in academic literature. My work originates from the study of sound, stillness, texture, and density, and how we can describe and interpret such immersive experiences. This is what IAVA asks you to do, immerse yourself into the music which then transforms your experience into energetic waves of sound-shapes (Smalley, 1997). The process can take you into uncharted territory where one may not be able to hear the termination of a sound event. In some instances, one can hear micro sound events inside macro sound events and even suspended stillness can be heard hovering over other pieces of music.

Musicianship can only be enhanced and deepened if the musician is willing to step away from traditional analysis and listening practices. Engaging with each sound and understanding how it moves to the next can only bring the musician closer to what the composer intended for the piece. Ear training can be improved, communication on stage during rehearsal and performance can become an energetic immersive experience. Just think how this will transform the experience for the audience receiving the music into their minds.

Let us circle back to the rain in Singleton, NSW, Australia. It is so fine and gentle that each drop sounds like wind with a soft pitch, gentle texture, taking on the shape of fine diamonds. Each drop almost takes on qualities which one can almost taste on the tip of your tongue. This is the reason why I would love to delve into the five senses and sound in another article.

To read more about Sean’s research contact him via

The accompanying work to his research is available via

Power of Silence: Finding Stillness @

Mindfulness Through The Lens Of Sound: A 7-Step Listening Program @