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.