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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We do abuse music

I decided to post this as a new article though it is a direct reaction on Sean's because this is to strong in my mind for just doing a comment:

Do you remember those news printed on paper everyone used way back? I still use them because you can read them wherever you are, without the need of a monitor or display and internet connection.
One or two months back I read in a small article in one of those that the company Muzak went bankrupt. That company's product has the same name; aka elevator music or warehouse music.
It is said that music makes people friendly, peaceful, yet happy, so playing music in a warehouse lightens up the customers mood and they'd purchase even more - was their claim.
This is a tragical simplification in my opinion, because nobody ever had the idea that one's mood might turn bad if he doesn't like the music he hears.

Back in the 80ies, when I once purchased some car spare parts and queued up at the cash point I realized at a certain moment that my spirit was slowly changing into bad mood. I realized that I wasn't the only one whose mood was darkening, a couple of other people were doing the same thing. I was a strange effect to me and I was wondering about that for about 5 Minutes. Then I noticed that a speaker was dabbling out the most crappy Bavarian folk music at an almost inaudible loudness. I said to another - in the meantime quite angry - dude: "Hey I think it's that almost imperceptible music torture that makes me so angry. It took a bit to find that out." That guy stared at me, froze for a moment or two and smiled at me when saying that "this really is the worst music I ever had to bear!" Luckily the emotion in our part of the queue was back to positive, now that we had found out the evil that happened to us.

Back a few years from now, the warehouse music wasn't a single event anymore but a pestilence, we went for some speaker cables to an electronic shop. Still being in a rather good mood - emotionally dumb for sonic pollution - my friend said to the salesman: "That indeed is some nice crappy music you guys have playing there." The salesman switched from good manners to aggression instantly. "Yes and it is in here ALL FUCKING DAY LONG!!!" we were trying to be nice guys but man, that went wrong....
So much for the general music-does-people-good idea.

Well so, folks, look around, errr... listen around! Music is everywhere. Everywhere!
I mean, when I was a teenager it was so unimaginably cool to have that walkman playing music while cycling through the city! But that was long ago.
Today wherever you go there's muzak. If McDonald's, Burger King, SFCC, any store, SUBWAY STATIONS!!! TV jingles, sweepers, shows, serials, documentaries, - even news! movie, games, yet websites.
Really, what would a website of a warehouse chain be without muzak!!
Where else... wait loops, cell phones, ipods, car radio, car docking station, wifi, itunes, the list seems endless.
I fear opening a can of beans, muzak could be inside!
Do I need a psychiatrist?

Isn't it any wonder that one blunts about music? It is a sonic pollution, yet violation today how music is abused and sprayed at us. How can something so omnipresent be of worth for the common man? Even gold would be nothing of worth if it were available everywhere endlessly.

I'm no more one of those people carrying an ipod everywhere, ripping cds to itunes and using the computer for listening to music.
I want my gems stored in shelves (that's what they are for - the shelves of course...), grab the jewel case, open, insert, play, sofa, listen, read/watch booklet (damn is this font supposed to be read? What's the song title???), be happy!
I tune in to progulus when I actually want to listen to random prog goodness.
I refuse to have music playing right now because yesterday we've been at a great Asia gig ( where 150 - 200 progulus flyers went away, not one ending up on the floor!), and a little session afterwards - because silence is golden.

Sean, the Cartasis demo is great! Hope to hold the cd in my hands soon!


guitarsean said...

Well said Ray. I have to admit to being one who has his ipod around all the time. And some days it seems like nothing is worth listening to. Actually, 90% of my ipod time is spent on science and skepticism podcasts. I got a new car late last year and I have really enjoyed getting back to a cd player in the car. I have to be more selective, more intentional.

I used to have a walkman, too, but that experience is different. I used to walk to and from school with the walkman, listening to the same tape for a week straight. With the ipod I'm too tempted not the spend time absorbing something.

Makes me wish I had a nice stereo at home, but alas, I don't. By the way, only a few small tweaks and Catharsis is mastered and off to the duplicator.

BG said...

At the moment of writing this I am sitting in a hotel room in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Arriving in this country was a big surprise, at least concerning music. In Finland rock/metal is only short of being mainstream, but during the the last 2 weeks I have heard maybe 1 song with a guitar solo. If you happen not to like pop/techno, you are in bad luck. Its all around you, in...

...the airport
...the taxis
...the hotel lobby, restaurant and hall way work (on a big 40 inch flatscreen in the reception)
...the shopping malls

I can avoid it if I take a walk, but if I get hungry I'll be at it again.

At least there will be one thing I wont miss when I leave tomorrow.

MAVIII said...

Well . . .
Its almost what James Cameron tried to show in his Movie "The Terminator", too much technology everywhere, the complacency and where it could lead.
As you know Ray, I have been touching on the very topic in my essays, music is everywhere but I have to say, or make clearly its not the music I WANT to hear.
All those places, those idiotic jobs I've had and the crappy Top40 stations that made me lose my MIND!

Music is too damn sacred in my being, and its funny, I have been thinking of late, why is it really important for me to get a iPod?
I have a really nice walk-man, I get to play my homemade Prog compilations from my own store bought CD collection, and I listen more on the road because all my stuff is stored for the time being, and when I travel on public transportation, I can listen to music I love to drown out the obnoxious people on their Cell-phones and the crazies!
But occasionaly, I'll go without, just to hear the "natural" sounds, concious that I dont want to be tied to technology (I dont own a Cell for that reason, and if I'm on the road, I dont need to talk to anyone :P).

I too love to reach for a REAL CD and look at them, hold them and read and look at the Art that was put into them. We are in a generation of instant gratification without representation, buy something without a package, just an impulse without really listening, learning, having time to taste it...
just swallow and take it, chew and spit it out.

I used to be such an optimist, but I see the world spiraling into apathy, no compassion and no regard for a soul, or art.
My gosh... I just depressed myself :P
I guess I am glad that there are "few" of us that appreciate good music done with the skills of craftsmen, no-matter what type of music, as long as its made with high standards and no rules.

May we keep the flame alive :)

T-Bo said...

I love Bavarian folk music. :P

I see what you're saying. Music is EVERYWHERE these days, and while that's a good thing, it all tends to fade in the background. Like omnipresence demanding omniabsence, to quote Pain of Salvation.

These days, there's just SO MUCH music out there, and just by volume not all of it's good. There's no desire to "listen" to music anymore, just to hear it. I hate to call my generation ADD like everyone else, but it's kind of true. Music isn't really important to people these days because it doesn't take any effort. One click, and you can have thousands of bands, thousands of songs all at your fingertips. And then, where do you start? What do you listen to? You can always listen to something later. Why listen to something different when you can hear something you know?

Radio has moved into a pre-approved playlist, only playing what the advertisers want you to hear. They're trying to cross all genres and come up with something as generic and far-reaching as possible to sell, sell, sell. Music has always been a commodity, but this is just too much. The bloated music industry is on its way to fall. Hard. And it needs to.

I've got an upcoming article about this actually, I'll update mid-week when I finish. It's actually a project I have to do for class, and I think it would be appreciated here.

stringray said...

John Mellencamp, a hit writer in the 80's and 90's, just released an inside view on the decline of the biz. It's quite interesting:

guitarsean said...

Thanks for sharing that link Ray. There are a few point (mainly about the cd's reason for being) I disagree with, but it's a very telling look from an insider.

It's also on his official page:

MAVIII said...

I was thinking Ray and Sean, maybe you should post that whole Article up, be a great discussion/conversation.

I too saw it at his site.