Two Years Ago

02008-03-27 | Uncategorized | 5 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.

5 Comments

  1. dave

    I’ve noticed that recently the music in TGIF restaurants is played extremely loud. While I love music, this is annoying as hell and takes away from the eating experience.

    Reply
  2. Carol

    The same idea can be used for so many things can’t it…. when toys for instance for both kids and adults are so readily acquired, you to think beyond it’s main purpose and how they be used in new and unusual ways, whereas a few chunks of wood or a pencil and paper used to be a real adventure.

    Reply
  3. Anna

    Ottmar, if my memory serves me correctly, dining at Tetsuya’s is a quiet experience…

    Next time you are in Sydney, I hope you get a chance to dine at Bilson’s. Bilson’s is the whole experience. I know that each time I say goodbye to them, I am looking forward to my next visit :-)

    Reply
  4. Gerry

    ‘When music is everywhere, music with more depth and mystery has to be created in order to move us’.

    This is the answer!
    Take a listen to ‘The Sound of Muzak’ by Porcupine Tree.
    They touched on this very subject.
    ‘Hear the sound of muzak in the aisles.
    Elevator Prozac stretching on for miles.’
    Although the lyrics are lamentable, they are sung over a truely
    beautiful and uplifting piece of music.

    ‘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?’
    I’ve been listening to music for thirtysomething years and thank God, I am still fasicnated by music and musicians.
    I have definately developed a more sophisticated ear as I have matured/ aged, that’s why I apreciate Ottmars’ music, (and Stevos’ Thira) so much.
    Turn off background music in your homes and workplaces. Save your ears for music fo substance.

    Reply

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