Some years ago my friend and fellow musician David Key introduced me to a book by composer-pianist-philosopher W.A Mathieu called "The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music". It's a book of reflections and exercises that seeks to expand our awareness and sensitivity to the sounds in our world (including music).
When I was teaching high school music theory I used one chapter in particular as an assignment each year. That chapter is titled "Symphonies of Place". For Mathieu a "Symphony of Place" is "created" as one listens deeply and writes down every sound that can be heard. As examples he includes two "symphonies of place" in the chapter, one at his home and one in downtown Santa Rosa, California. While many of us would hear 10 sounds Mathieu, through attentiveness, notes 20-30.
Here is the exercise from his book. Give it a whirl! Then try the same as you listen to some music.
Symphonies of Place
"Get a pencil and paper. Become aware of all the sounds you are hearing now, this moment, as you read. Make a list of them. Close your eyes from time to time. Swivel your head slightly to change the mix. Make a sweep from nearby sounds to distant sounds. Fall into the distance. Become transparent. Now fall into the nearness. Make a sweep from the highest sounds to the lowest ones. Disappear into the stratosphere, reappear underground. If your space is quiet enough you will hear your own internal sounds: breathing, maybe your blood in your ears. Or the subtle sounds of cloth against cloth, skin against skin. Count everything; write everything down. Use words economically. Later, if you like, you can set the scene and go into detail.
Now make your sweeps into scans so rapid that you have the illusion of hearing everything at once. Now close your eyes and hear everything at once. Now cup your hands behind your ears. Technicolor!
This is the sound of your now, your Symphony of Place."
(From "The Listening Book" by W.A. Mathieu, published by Shambhala Press, 1991)