The other day I was in my study playing guitar. My neighbour decided that ‘all day’ was the perfect time frame for 80’s rock music to be playing. It wasn’t loud but it bothered me so I closed the window. The sound was still there but reduced. It made me think about the way we are supposed to tolerate sounds from all around. The constant drone of traffic, the constant right of a private pilot to make THAT much noise over a village in which I would surely be arrested for the same level of sound, mobile phones!
So imagine if you will, that on going to a new art exhibition in a famous gallery you found that the rooms were filled with various levels of mist. From a light film of whiteness to a dense thick impenetrable cloud such that you could only see the paintings close to. This is how the sound world has become: People cough in concerts without even trying to mask the sound with their sleeves or even their hands. People eat noisily through films (can a box of pop corn really last that long?). At a solo cello recital in Aldeburgh the other day a couple obviously not used to the fact that this was not television at homer swapping facts about the composer’s life and the soloist’s career in barely whispered asides – all through the playing.
Coming home – I notice that one of my computers delivers a slight wind sound from its fan. It has smeared over everything I listen to. Ironically it is the computer with my music library on it. Does anybody make soundproof cases for computers?
There is another sound default at work – the default that everybody will love pop music blasting out – often to drown conversation – especially in public places like restaurants and shops. Why always pop? is it only young people they are trying to attract? – if we must have other peoples music might it not occasionally be Jazz, Classical, world, singer -songwriter , alternative and so on? I do not go to the Gym I used to go to because ‘Eye of the Tiger’ type songs play on endless loops. As a preference, we should expect no background music, that silence be as golden as it used once to be.
Lets win back our auditory space and remove the fog from our listening environment.