Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Some random thoughts on No Music Day

Avoiding music's very difficult. I'm not sure if it's harder in a music library or not. the obvious course would have been to take the day off, but I've already used up my holiday allowance for the year, and anyway, where's the challenge if you take the easy way out?

Here are most of the incidents of inadvertent hearing of music that happened to me:

tinny sound leaking from iPod/Walkman headphones: 2 (less than I'd have expected)
colleague playing CD in stock room: 2
whistling: 12 (much more than I'd have expected)
sounds from colleagues' PC: 2
singing: 1
inadvertent playing of music by Resonance FM: 3
Mobile phone: 2 (much less than I'd have expected)

I found myself putting Resonance FM on the PC headphones for most of the day, just to block out the noise in the office. it really drove home how noisy the place is. This is what I use music for normally during the day. I feel very bad about this, but I'm not sure I could bear to sit here without that shield. Maybe I'm just basically intolerant and antisocial. I don't think I am, though. This is one to ponder at length. Is it just the lack of control over sound that grates?

Spoken word stuff doesn't smother ambient noise nearly as well as music.

It's much harder to listen to non-musical sounds and work at the same time. Does this mean that my mind can absorb music on a more basic level, or just that I'm not really listening?

I heard some very interesting things that I would probably never have listened to otherwise.

I really, really, hate the sound of whistling.

When you're trying to avoid it, hearing music can be rather painful and stressful.

If I'm using spoken word and ambient recordings to the same purpose as music, does that make them music?

Conversely, if I hear music and treat it as unwanted noise and avoid it, does that stop it being music?

How would my experience have differed if I'd stayed at home, in an environment I could control? Would it have been calmer, or more stressful?

I've always been aware of the way music is imposed on us - it's different from other art forms like that. If there's a painting in the room you can avert your eyes, but if someone is playing music you can't really avert your ears. Today really rammed that fact home, it's that imposition that robs music of its meaning, it just becomes more noise.

Why are we afraid of silence? If you read the statements on the No Music Day website, there are some extraordinarily aggressive posts against the idea of going for a day without. I had a mini-argument with one colleague who really seemed unable to comprehend the idea, and could only make smug snobbish comments along the lines of "oh well, I suppose some music's very easy not to listen to." I found myself thinking what a small world he inhabits, and how awful it must be to have such a blinkered outlook.

I think I've become more aware of a very fundamental need/desire for music as a result of spending a day shunning it.

Throughout the day I had various pieces/songs pop up in my head. If I have music in the front of my imagination, even though I'm not physically hearing it, am I really experiencing a day without music?

I've gone straight back to listening to music today. Am I really any better than a junkie?

There are too many unanswered questions here. I'm going to have to do it again next year.

Anyway, Hail! bright Cecilia, and all that.


Lucia said...

Um. I find myself whistling all the time, particularly when I wait for the lift at work. There's something about that acoustic that I can't resist. I suppose I would sing but it is somehow too personal. I can't stand it when other people whistle though. Ugh. Unless it's my brother, as he's able to whistle whole symphonies, somehow. Weird.

petemaskreplica said...

I sometimes find myself whistling on the stairwell at work, it's a very reverberant acoustic and I like hearing the way the sound decays. This probably makes me an utter hypocrite, but what the hell.