Kasim Sulton: One Word—Focus

WRITTEN February 11, 2016 Author: Rich Atkins

Kasim SultonKasim Sulton is a bass guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist, best known for his work with Todd Rundgren and Utopia. He has worked with many varied musical acts, including Meat Loaf, Joan Jett, The New Cars, and Blue Öyster Cult.

Listening is mainly absorption. It’s the ability to hear something, whether it’s spoken word, music or sound—anything within the range of human hearing—the ability to take in whatever it is and identify it.

We communicate by spoken word and/or sound. The only way that I can participate in society on any level is by listening.

What do we need to do to learn how to listen?

The main thing with listening, according to what you’re listening for, is focus. It’s to be able to focus on a particular sound or vibration.

After vision, hearing is the most important sense. Before crossing a street I’ll look both ways. I might not see anything but if I hear a car horn, I’ll look again. I’m focused on getting from point A to point B and the sounds would influence my traversing from A to B. So it’s focus. I’m at point A, but I’m focused on point B. There are other outside influences that come into play while I’m taking the journey from point A to point B. So while my main focus is on point B, I’m also equally as focused on what’s going on around me, what I’m hearing.

kasim2What should someone do to minimize the distractions?

It’s just concentrating. Again, focus—concentration. When I listen to a piece of music and I want to learn a specific part from it, whether it’s a keyboard, guitar, or bass part, I will subconsciously block out all the other instruments and be focused exactly on that one instrument.

What if the part is not there?

Creativity has everything to do with listening because I want to have what I’m playing fit in. On the same token, for me, I take for granted that I know what’s going on with the other instruments in any given recording or piece of music. I consider myself a specialist. Just like the surgeon can go in and operate on a small artery, capillary, or vein and not disturb anything else around it, that’s how I look at creating my part in a musical piece.

Is there anything else we need to know about listening?

Be quiet. You can’t listen unless you’re quiet. It all boils down to that one word—focus—on what it is you’re hearing.

If you enjoyed reading about listening with Kasim Sultan, “One Word – FOCUS” please take a moment to click through our other musician interviews on the subject:

Guitarist Steve Morse on Listening – IC Interview

Simon Philips on Listening – IC Interview

Arnold McCuller – Listening for the Spirit – IC Interview

Jordan Rudess — Listening with Focus – IC Interview

Musician Carl Palmer on Listening – IC Interview

Nick Beggs — Listening means Understanding Relationships – IC Interview

Pat Mastelotto— Listening Requires Concentration – IC Interview

6 Ways That Effective Listening Can Make You A Better Leader

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