May 15, 2013

Guest contributions

I describe myself as being a self-confessed ‘music/audio nerd’, so today I’d like to talk about a social issue that I think about quite often, namely, the rate of music consumption in modern day society and its effects on music as an art form. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

With smartphones, iPods and other MP3 players being ubiquitous in society, music is listened to by almost everyone, almost all the time. There are arguments (for which I subscribe to) that suggest this rabid rate of consumption devalues music, as it can be seen to be treated as a commodity, in contrast to music being seen as a special event that should be savoured.

On the contrary, many people attest that if people are listening to music in more places and more frequently, then this surely must suggest that people are enjoying music more and that they value it to the extent that they cannot live without it, even during a quick commute to work.

Again, music really is everywhere; it is shoved down our proverbial throats at every possible opportunity through a myriad of different means. It is pumped out of retail stores in busy shopping centres, and the volume keeps rising. This continual upsurge in volume is an attempt made by each individual store to be noticed and heard over their competition. But it is all in vain, the volume keeps rising and you’re never really sure what song you are actually listening to, let alone which store the distorted tunes are coming from. All you hear is non-descript noise blaring indiscriminately from various shopfronts.

But music is not just heard in society through bad shopping centre speakers, it is forcibly thrust upon us in restaurants, sporting venues, through television shows, movies, and to my disgust, by a select number of people who play music on their phone in loudspeaker mode – usually whilst on public transport. Those people should be shot, and I’m only half joking.

You may be asking yourself that if I love music so much, why do I not feel the need to be immersed in it all the time? I do not habitually listen to tunes via iPods or smartphones, and I do not feel threatened by silence. I would even go as far as saying that an absence of music actually increases my enjoyment of it when I do eventually resume listening. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The sheer amount of music processed by your brain in modern society makes it harder and harder for people to appreciate it as a legitimate art form. When was the last time you listened to an entire album without interruption and multitasking? In my view this practice is becoming rarer by the year, and as mentioned, I believe this is due to the sheer amount of music saturation that exists in society. But should you even care?

I know I can’t change your mind, but music is one of my favourite things in the world. I want listening to music to be special, and I want it to make an impact on me. I don’t want music to be considered as just background noise, I don’t want music to be used as a means to cover up the sound of cars, trains or planes. I want the songs to be front and centre, not an afterthought or lazy marketing tool. I fear that music’s ubiquity is starting to diminish people’s enjoyment of this great art form.

– Carl Thompson

Photo by Liza Mills

, , ,

2 Responses to “MUSIC CONSUMPTION”

  1. Rob Says:

    Greetings Carl – I agree very much with your comments/essay. I do love listening to music but I also love it most when I have set the environment up to gain a greater appreciation of it and to gain a peaceful meditative state of being. That’s me.
    However I guess I also appreciate how some athletes and artisans and perhaps academics also use music to stimulate and encourage a higher and deeper more connected performance within their chosen pursuits.
    Thank you for your thoughts and sharing them, it opens the door to a philosophical discussion and in my humble opinion you cannot have too much of that!
    Regards Rob


  2. Amy Says:

    I completely agree with you Carl! Not only did you give me a good laugh especially when you said “Those people should be shot, and I’m only half joking.” but you have such good points!
    Great read 🙂


Leave a Reply