Music Everywhere

02006-03-27 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

Click opera – Ubiquity is the abyss
Music is a good thing. Of course it is. I’m a musician, I’ve dedicated my life to it, and I know few better things. Music can be sacred, mysterious, otherworldly, intimate, moving, extraordinary. But, increasingly, music is the opposite of those things. It’s profane, banal, public, shared, irritating, ordinary and ubiquitous. It’s in every restaurant and every cafe and every car and every office and on every computer and on every website. It’s in each ear, snaking in on a thin white wire. You listen to music all day, every day. Time without music is downtime. It’s the triumph of music! Or is it? Maybe ubiquity signals quite the opposite; music’s defeat. For music, ubiquity is the abyss.

I have thought about this many times. What was it like when any bright color could send a person into a different state of mind, because in their daily life they encountered mainly muted earth-tones. What was it like when the sound of a musician playing his instrument made everyone in a village drop what they were doing to run and listen? When everything sacred becomes profane and banal, does it mean that nothing is sacred – or does perception simply shift. Maybe it is how we become more sophisticated. We hear ubiquitous music and quickly determine whether it is banal and irritating or mysterious, intimate or extraordinary. When music is everywhere, music with more depth and mystery has to be created in order to move us.

Restaurants like to create an atmosphere by playing music over speakers. It is a quick fix designed to take attention away from other problems. I generally do not enjoy music in restaurants. To me it feels like bringing dinner to a concert. It is equally disturbing. That said, it seems to become harder and harder to find restaurants where the music is played softly and even harder to find restaurants without music altogether.


  1. eno

    I can only imagine living in a time in Spain where you could be outside working on some project and hear a guitarist attract the attention of everyone around. That sort of mixture between the harmony of regular outside noise (not city noise mind you) and a musical instrument, to me, would be an ultimate treat. What we hear in restaurants and in our car seems to be lacking one very important piece in music…space.

    This coming from a guy who makes house music =)

  2. Carol

    It’s so sad. it’s true about everything in excess, but it’s such a travesty to do it to music.. to use it in an attempt to get your attention by irritating you. when did it become necessary for every ad to have “music” and music taking over the foreground of shows,telling us how to react, and making it difficult for many to hear the actors.. Because so many think of music only as a nuisance I can’t even introduce them to your real music. it’s too late.

  3. Dave

    Bringing dinner to a concert? ;-)

    See you in a few weeks.


    p.s. I totally agree w/ music at dinner/dinner at a concert… Just sayin’… :-)

  4. marijose

    Today a friend and I went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch, got a nice table next to the indoor pond with koi fish, opened our bento boxes…and found ourselves having to shout at each other to talk. I don’t know what music was playing because I normally block out extraneous noise, but it clearly detracted from the atmosphere and was entirely too loud. Some soft traditional koto or no music at all would have been perfect. My throat still hurts from having to shout. I know I don’t have to speak nearly as loudly when I teach.


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